Anna Penner

Anna Penner

1938 - 2021

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Obituary of Anna Penner

Anna (Loewen) Penner was born at the family home in Twin Creek, Manitoba on March 6, 1938. 

Her physical life ended in the Bethesda Hospital in Steinbach on November 6, 2021 after a brief hospital stay.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.” Psalm 116:15

She leaves to mourn, one daughter, four sons and their families:

  • Bob and his wife Brenda,
  • Bruce and Kim and their children;
    • Jesse and his wife, Erin and their sons Sebastian and August, 
    • Beazaiyu,
    • Madelaine and her husband, Matthew Funk and their son, Reuben,
    • Metakae and her son Kayden,
    • and Elijah and his wife, Vanessa and their son, Zion
  • Gord and Laura and their children;
    • Gina and her husband Joel Brandt and their children Emmett, Aria, & Liam,
    • Allen and his wife Janessa, 
    • Cameron and his wife Heather,
    • and Kendra and her husband, Nolan Reimer.
  • Tricia and Brian Reimer and their children;
    •  Alex
    • and Tasha.
  • Kenton and Lucille and their children; 
    • Ashley and her husband, Joel Thiessen, 
    • Megan and her husband, Josh Dueck,
    • Bonnie
    • and Ryan

Anna was predeceased by her parents, Isaac F. Loewen and Elisabeth (Unger) Loewen, her husband, Bill, her siblings, Mary, Peter, George, Leonard, John, & Edwin, and two grandsons, Lucas & Yonatan 

She also leaves to mourn, her sisters, Minna Loewen, Wilma Unger, and Valida Friesen; her sisters-in-law, Caroline Loewen, Kathy Loewen, Lydia Loewen, and Sarah Penner; as well as other family and friends.

Anna’s life on this earth was a story that might best be characterized as a contest between her somewhat blunt and adventure seeking nature and her intentional commitment to serve God with obedience and submission.

This struggle was articulated early in her life as she waited until she was 18 before choosing to set aside her desire for a lifetime of grand adventure in order to submit to Jesus and be baptized into the Blumenort Church in 1956.  She occasionally spoke with amusement about the actual life of grand adventure that ultimately unfolded for her once she let go of that ambition. 

Her innate desire to “break the mold” was almost certainly one of the reasons she was attracted to Bill Penner, the man she would marry in 1959, and whose enthusiasm to tell people about the Love of God would lead Bill & Anna to every corner of Manitoba . . . and that adventure began as soon as they were married.

They were married on August 8, 1959 and by the time the school year started a few weeks later, she and Bill were permit teachers in Cormorant Lake, Manitoba (a small community North East of The Pas).  Ten months later, in June, 1960, the school had to be closed for the day because Bill and Anna’s first son, Bob, was delivered by “Grandma Sally”, the local midwife.  The following Monday, however, Bob was in a basket in the front corner of the classroom as Bill and Anna spent the rest of the month completing their first school year as teachers.

The year they spent in Cormorant Lake had awakened something in Bill and Anna, however . . . They discovered a respect, an affinity, and a love for the people and the cultures of the North that would profoundly shape the rest of their life.

Over the next three years, Bruce was born in the Steinbach Hospital in a much more conventional setting and on the day that Bill graduated with his teaching certificate, Gord was born . . . Three boys in three years!  At this point, Anna convinced Bill that he needed to get a little bit of life insurance because she recognized another truth that would define their life together.  Like Bill’s teaching certificate, the assets that they would accumulate in their life together would mostly be intangible.  She told Bill that all of their investments were in his head and if he died, they would all be gone and she would have nothing.  She would need enough money to get her own teaching certificate so that she could support their family.

In 1963, they moved to God’s River, Manitoba and for the next four years, they lived in a postcard setting on the shores of a beautiful Northern river in “God’s Country” and Anna continued to teach kindergarten as a permit teacher.  During the four years, they lived in God’s River, Anna learned to fish and (perhaps more importantly) make shore lunches and facilitate other people’s fishing experiences.  She did, however, speak fondly of her Master Angler Rainbow Trout (which was never registered because the hook had been barbed).  In January, 1967, their final year in God’s River, Anna flew out to Steinbach to deliver their fourth baby, and Tricia, the centennial project and the princess of our family, was born in Steinbach. 

The next summer, with four young children, Bill and Anna decided it was time to move South.   Over the next nine years, Bill taught school in Blumenhof and Blumenort, bought the family farm in Ridgewood, and became a lay minister in the Ridgewood Church.  During these years, Kenton was born, and Anna’s life became more focused on the roles of mother and pastor’s wife.  During these years, she made sure that the family carved out the necessary time and resources to make family memories on camping trips and road trips, as well as swimming lessons and piano lessons.

In some ways these years may have felt less and less like an adventure, and her commitment to faith and submission was repeatedly tested and honed as she intentionally chose to accept roles that might not have been the ones she naturally aspired to.  It was a remarkable thing to be raised by a mother who believed firmly in the principles of feminism and believed even more firmly in the principles of loyalty and submission to God’s will.  As she continued to read, study, and learn, she became Bill’s editor, theological contributor, and wise council and she supported him in his role of visible leadership.

In 1976, after much prayer and family conversations, Bill & Anna made another adventurous decision and moved their young family to Lynn Lake, Manitoba where Bill became a pastor for the Lynn Lake Gospel Church and led the aviation ministry for Continental Mission.  The Church in Lynn Lake was a small and very supportive ecumenical congregation that provided a safe place for Bill and Anna to begin to develop their approach to ministry as a pastoral couple and missionary team. 

During these years, Anna continued to take university courses wherever and whenever they were available and her role as a lifetime student was able to benefit once again from a formal education.  It is a testament to her academic orientation and her lifetime of intentionality as a mother and a leader, that she would often come home from university classes on psychology and sociology and say (with a chuckle and a measure of pride), “I now know the words and the theories that describe what Bill & I were already doing”.

In 1983, Bill & Anna made another move to Wawanesa, Manitoba where Bill became the pastor of the Church in Treesbank.  During this time, Anna took full advantage of her proximity to Brandon University and she completed her Bachelors Degree which aggregated and celebrated her lifelong commitment to take every available University Course, and bundle them into a degree that was roughly built around an emphasis on Psychology, Sociology, and Indigenous Studies.  This degree was a symbolic declaration of her tenacious pursuit of academic learning in all of the circumstances of her life.

Beginning in 1982, Anna also intentionally took on the role as Mother-in-Law as her children began to bring new members to the family.  On the day of the first family wedding, she announced that Mother-in-law jokes were no longer funny and she began to thoughtfully and intentionally explore this new role.  For some of her daughter-in-laws, she was the only Mom they had as they began their own families and Mom embraced each of them as her own.  Her decision framework for new in-laws was quite simple.  She would tell us, “Until you tell me that this is the one you are going to marry, I am not particularly interested . . . after you tell me that this is the one, they will become my family” . . . and her commitment to her extended family was unequivocal.  One example of this commitment was her regular monthly breakfast gatherings with “the girls” in which she told stories and shared wisdom and stayed connected.

In 1986, Bill & Anna moved to Steinbach and began to study at Providence Seminary.  Mom completed her Masters of Arts in Counselling and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of studying and learning.  Throughout her life, she often described her whimsical and hopeful view of Heaven as a never-ending series of free university courses with God Himself as the professor.

During this time, Bill and Anna returned to Ridgewood and became the senior pastoral couple and Anna continued utilize her gifts for the Kingdom of God.  Her loyalty to Bill and her love for God were unequivocal and she looked for ways to serve that honoured her husband and served the Church.  She often joked about her “gift of discernment” and the fact that Bill called it the “gift of criticism” . . . but there is no doubt that their shared ministry was built around the healthy combination of Bill’s tenderness and Anna’s discipline and they served as appropriate counterpoints for each other.

This was also the period in which Anna took on another role for the first time as she became a grandmother in 1988.  From the very first day, she was a committed and intentional grandma who sacrificed many other things to play an important role in the lives of her grandchildren.  During the years in which they lived down South, Anna would schedule “Grandma days” every week in which she had all of the grandchildren in her home for an afternoon of crafts, baking, singing, storytelling, or simply playing together.  In later years, she would move in with her grandchildren for a week at a time in order to give their parents an opportunity to go on a vacation or a study break.  During those times, Anna would implement “programs of activities” which were designed to be educational, fun, and character building and she got to know each of her grandchildren personally.

In many ways, Bill & Anna’s ministry culminated with their move back to the North in 1995.  Bill became the Director of Continental Mission in Thompson, Manitoba, but both Bill & Anna finally had the opportunity to fully engage in connecting with the “people of the North”.  They poured themselves into rekindling the relationships they already had in so many Northern communities and building new friendships with the people they loved so much. 

Anna learned the stories of the North from a wide variety of sources . . . both personal interactions and voracious reading from many sources and she developed a compassionate and respectful understanding of their history.  She was an articulate defender of the beauty and nobility of the native culture as it had been traditionally lived out for generations and she chose to be their storyteller and advocate. 

After Bill passed away in 2015, Anna continued to live out the life that they had shared for over 57 years.  She continued to travel North and visit the communities they had served together.  She continued to provide leadership to their care group in the Ridgewood Church.  She continued to love their grandchildren and pray for them and connect with them and give them the gift of a weekend in Camp Arnes every winter and at Longbow Lake every summer.  She continued to provide mentorship to the SBC Mission Exposure program that sent students to the North every year.

On the day of Bill’s funeral, she made a commitment to live out her faith by being intentionally thankful.  She began a Thankfulness Journal that day and rapidly built a list of over 1,000 reasons to be thankful and it transformed her life.  Last week in the hospital she told her doctor that she now had 7,000 reasons to be thankful and had hoped to build the list to 10,000 before she died.  The last two items that she added to her list were “hospital care” and “congenial staff”. 

Her commitment to thankfulness was accompanied by her commitment to prayer, and her commitment to love and serve.  In an act that was consistent with her whole life, she spent her last Sunday on earth making lunch for the youth at YFC Steinbach and delivering it to them in person even though she was physically exhausted. 

We will always remember her as a woman who “said what she meant” and “did what she said”.

Anna lived life to the full and chose to serve the Lord whether as a wife, mother, and grandmother, or as teacher, preacher and missionary, friend and mentor. She had no interest in retiring and actively served until the end of her life. She reminded us that it was not necessary to praise her, only the Lord is worthy of our praise.

The come & go viewing will be held on Thursday, November 11, 2021, between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. at Birchwood Funeral Chapel, Steinbach, MB., following Covid restrictions. Please line up in your vehicle on the west side of the building and a director will usher you in when it is safe to do so.

The memorial service will be held on Friday, November 12, 2021, at 1:30 p.m. at the Ridgewood E.M.C., the service is open to all those that are fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination is required.

To join the family via livestream please visit at the time of the service.


Come & Go Viewing

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Thursday, November 11, 2021
Birchwood Funeral Chapel
162 PTH 52 W
Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada
(204) 346-1030
Please Follow Covid Regulations

Memorial Service

1:30 pm
Friday, November 12, 2021
Ridgewood E.M.C.
37015 Pr 311
Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada
The family requests that only vaccinated people attend the service.