Mary Klassen

Obituary of Mary Klassen

Mom was born Maria (Mary) Froese on Dec 24, 1922 to Dietrich and Maria Froese in Siberia Russia because her Parents had fled with their family from the Mennonite colony in the Ukraine for safety reasons. She was the 8th child born however only the 3rd child to live past childhood and because she was so small, her parents thought she would follow those that had passed on before her. They kept her warm by placing her on the oven and to their surprise she not only survived but she thrived for 99 years.

When she was 3 ½ years old, her parents decided, because of the unrest in Russia, to immigrate to Canada so they packed up their family and fled, boarding a boat and arriving in Canada in 1926. They lived in Sullivan Lake Alberta for a time before settling in the Leamington area in 1938 and 2 more children were added to the family in Canada.

Mom raised some money as a child by collecting gopher tails. The government paid a penny for each gopher tail because there were far too many gophers and they were a nuisance to farmers. Mom would turn them in when she collected 100. She would trap the gophers and their dog, Poodle, would kill them if they were still alive and then she would pull off the tails. She once found a lone tail but her father wouldn’t let her collect for it until she found a gopher without a tail and killed it. She earned enough to buy a bicycle.

Mom was a good student and memorized 500 Bible verses which allowed her to attend Three Hills Bible camp where she accepted Jesus as her Saviour, asking for His forgiveness for all she had done wrong and asking Him to come in and lead and guide her life from then on.

Mom and her siblings worked hard to help the family and Mom quickly was given the nickname of Speedy since she always tried to do more work than anyone else and could tie tobacco, plant seedlings and pick vegetables at such a fast pace. Faster than most others.

She also remembered having to wash floors on her birthday since the next day was Christmas and everything had to be cleaned.

Mom was privileged to attend Winkler Bible School for 3 years. While there, her friend Annie Klassen took her to her home in Manitou for a weekend where she spotted Annie’s brother, Jake, who also took a liking to her. They dated quietly, since it was forbidden by the school and once Mom graduated, her and Dad were married in Leamington on June 28, 1947. They sharecropped till they bought their own farm in 1958 on what is now County Road 37. 6 children were born to them, Laura, Mary, Neil, Shirley, Janey and Mark but unfortunately Mark died at 7 months, 20 days. That was a very difficult time but God sustained them through it all and their faith in Jesus never waivered.

Dad lost his leg in a farming accident during harvest season so Mom had to hold down the fort with the help of our loving neighbours and friends.

Mom had always wanted to be a nurse so as Mom and Dad aged, they sold the farm and Mom got a job at a rest home which fulfilled her desire to be a nurse. She also worked at KFC cooking for a time.

Mom was very gifted in hospitality! If anyone dropped in unannounced, she would invite them for supper and at the last minute, whip up a huge spread which was delicious and satisfying to all.

Mom also loved to quilt and knit. We all have benefitted from her handiwork. She made each of us a quilt when we married and carried on the tradition with all her 12 grandchildren. She also knit a beautiful baby blanket for each family as the grandchildren arrived and then for the great grandchildren. We kept her pretty busy besides all the things she made and donated to missions.

Mom loved young children and taught the 3 year old’s Sunday school class for 15 years. She also loved telling our children Bible stories with her flannelgraph. She was a grandma that ‘played’ on the floor with her grandchildren and she enjoyed them all very much. They all remember her French fries which were the BEST ever! None of us seem to be able to duplicate them either.

Mom was often asked if she could have anything in the world, what would it be and her answer was always the same. She prayed and wished for all her children to follow Jesus and live for Him. No, they’d say, what would you really want?? But Mom’s answer remained the same. Well, Mom’s prayers have been answered and not only have all her children accepted Jesus, but also her grandchildren and many of her great grandchildren have also made that decision so her legacy carries on.

Mom and Dad celebrated 62 years of marriage before she moved into the Mennonite Home after Dad’s passing in January of 2010 and was very content there and well cared for.

As Mom’s mind continued to fail, she never waivered in her faith in Jesus. Some days were better than others but no matter what kind of day it was, if we started a familiar Bible verse, she would finish it. She reminded us that Jesus loved her and would take care of her. If we sang a hymn with her, she knew and wanted to sing every verse and if we missed a verse, she looked at us with an inquiring look, wondering why we hadn’t sung it all. Her favourite hymn used to be Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross but more recently it became Jesus Loves Me and was a constant reminder of God’s love for her.

Predeceased by her husband, Jake(2010), their sons, Mark(1966) and Neil(2021), and their granddaughter, Jodi Schmidt(1978).

She is survived by her children, Laura and Henry Schmidt, Mary and Milan Milec, Joni Klassen, Shirley and James Dueckman, and Jane and Mike MacIntosh, her 23 grandchildren and 32 great grandchildren. Also surviving is her sister Sally Dyck, step-sister, Elsa Dick and step-brother, Harry and Mary Friesen. Predeceased by her siblings, Dick and Helen Froese, Susie and Martin Woelk, Margaret and Art Tiessen, Henry and Elsie Froese, Henry Dyck, John Dick and Peter and Theresia Mantler.

Burial has taken place and a Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. Arrangements entrusted to Reid Funeral Home 519-326-2631. In memory of Mary, memorial donations may be made to the Leamington Mennonite Home. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.reidfuneralhome.ca