Also surviving her are grandchildren Lorriann Ludwig (Arnd), Steven Sawatzky (Kim), Chris Janzen (Rosie), Stephanie Janzen-Martin (Reuben), Nathan Wiebe (Kristin), Jessica Friesen (Mike), Rachel Fehr (Eric), Lisa Janzen (Andrew) and Matthew Janzen along with 18 great-grandchildren.
She is also survived by step-children Norman Wiebe (Irene), Lorraine Thiessen (Henry), Marilyn Shulz (Stan) along with six step-grandchildren and nine step great-grandchildren.
Also surviving her are siblings and in-laws from both marriages as well as many beloved nieces and nephews.
Mom was born in Gnadenthal, Baratov Colony, Ukraine in 1919, the youngest of eight children. She was born in the aftermath of the turbulent times of a world war and a revolution. In 1923, when mom was four years old, the Sawatzkys were able to leave Russia, and the hardships of civil war, for a new home in Canada. They settled in Gnadenthal, Manitoba. Mother, being young and blessed with a positive disposition, adapted quickly to her new home.
School years were especially enjoyable for Mom. She loved learning, read eagerly in both German and English, enjoyed mathematics and music and often spoke of the amazing teacher that Mr. Schaefer had been to the children of Gnadenthal. Mom finished Grade Ten, an exceptional accomplishment in that time and place.
While in her teens and early twenties mom faced deep sadness with the death of her father in 1936, her older sister Maria in 1939, and her mother in a tragic car-train accident in 1943.
Mom worked in the Gnadenthal General Store during these years and was loved and supported by her brother, sisters and their families, and the Gnadenthal church family. She was baptized upon her confession of faith by Bishop Johann P. Bueckert and joined the Blumenorter Mennonite Church on 13 May 1940.
It was during the years of World War II that Mom made a bold move, relocating to Plumas, Manitoba to work at an egg grading station there. This arrangement allowed our parents to continue the courtship which the war had interrupted. Our Dad was serving as a Conscientious Objector, first at Riding Mountain National Park and later on a farm near Plumas.
Our parents married in the fall of 1944 and settled in Altona where they lived for the next 30 years.
For the following years, Mom worked hard as a homemaker caring for her growing family.
She enjoyed the Mary Martha women’s group at the Altona Bergthaler Church and over the years frequently took on committee work. Eventually, she also worked on the Manitoba Women’s Conference executive as the secretary.
After her youngest child was in school, Mom began working as a fabric clerk for M&A Fabrics. Although moving heavy bolts of cloth was hard work, she thoroughly enjoyed meeting the women of the community with whom Mom made many lasting friendships. Mom was an excellent tailor and her daughters were the grateful recipients of many new outfits in the latest fabrics and colours.
In 1974 our parents moved to Winkler where Dad was employed as the maintenance person at Salem Home. They built a new home on Pembina Avenue and Mom found employment at the Co-op grocery store, and later at Salem Home in the Activities Department.
It was during this time that Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery. Our parents found the news of cancer difficult to bear but the surgery was successful and did not require follow-up chemotherapy. Mom regained her energy and zest for life quickly. Her faith, acceptance and resilience through this experience was a lesson to us all.
Then, in the spring of 1983 Dad was diagnosed with cancer. Mom was by his side through surgery and recovery, learning the medical techniques so she could care for him at home. These were difficult years for Mom and the family, and Dad passed away in March 1986. Again, through the love and support of family and the church community we were comforted.
The years of being a widow were lonely for Mom. She took up more quilting projects and created many wonderful articles for her family.
When Bill Wiebe, also widowed and a long-time acquaintance, came calling it didn’t take long for them to decide to marry. They were married on 17 June 1989 and enjoyed almost 27 years together in Winkler.
Mom and Bill moved to Garden Park Estates in 2000 partially because Mom had been diagnosed with macular degeneration. Vision loss and, subsequently hearing loss, were difficult for Mom to accept but she would always say, “What can you expect at our age.”
Independent living for Mom and Bill came to an end when Mom fractured her pelvis in a fall at home in 2012. This incident was followed by a three month stay at Boundary Trails Hospital and a nine month stay at the Morris Hospital while waiting for placement at Salem Personal Care Home.
A room at Salem became available in January 2013 and Mom spent her last years there, along with Bill until his death in 2016. Mom enjoyed the food, her comfortable room, the Salem activities and the unfailing kind attention of the staff. Mom was thankful and expressed her gratitude freely. We know that she will be missed not only by her family but also by the staff at Salem Home.
Mom’s faith in God was important throughout her life sustaining her in difficult times and giving her strength, courage and insight to go on. She will be remembered for this commitment, her zest for life, and her love and care for her family.