Obituary of Lawrence Klippenstein
Lawrence Klippenstein, age 91, of Winnipeg, passed away on Friday, March 18, 2022, at St. Boniface Hospital.
He was predeceased by his wife LaVerna, two brothers and two sisters.
He is survived by four children: Norman (Amanda), Noreen, Nathan (Jamie Lynn) and Nevin Jerry (Lisa); former son-in-law Ron Janzen; ten grandchildren and their spouses; two brothers; one sister; as well as two sisters-in-law and one brother-in-law.
Lawrence Klippenstein was born in Altbergthal, MB., on July 16, 1930 and grew up on a poultry farm on the banks of beautiful Buffalo Creek. He was the oldest of five boys, with brothers Alfred, Ray, Bill and Alvin. His mother passed away when he was fourteen, and second mom Susan Friesen and two little sisters came along - Helen and Nora - and later a third sister Dolores was added to the family.
After graduating from MCI, Lawrence found a position as a permit teacher for a Holdeman community in Greenland, MB. He completed Normal School, studied at Canadian Mennonite Bible College, and then taught up north in Grand Rapids for a year. He met his wife LaVerna at U of M, and after marrying they served at Mennonite Pioneer Mission in the Métis community of Matheson Island. He always had a special fondness for this experience and the people he came to know there. During this time their oldest son Norman was born. The family moved to Goshen, Indiana, where he and LaVerna attended college, and he graduated from Elkart seminary, and Noreen and Nathan were born. He was ordained and pastored in Kitchener, taught at CMBC, and helped establish the Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship. His interest in teaching church history led him to the University of Minnesota, where he completed his Masters. It was in Minneapolis where their youngest son, Nevin (Jerry) was born. He was called back to Southern Manitoba to teach at Elim Bible School, and served as interim pastor at the Altona Mennonite Church before finding his true calling as long-time archivist for the Conference of Mennonites in Canada, where he worked for the next twenty-four years. During this time he completed his PhD in Russian Mennonite history, his focus being Conscientious Objection status in Russia during World War I.
He and LaVerna were actively involved in leadership roles at Home St. Mennonite Church for over thirty years.
After retirement, MCC service sabbaticals took Lawrence and LaVerna to London UK, Germany and Moscow. During their time in Moscow as MCC country reps, they became acquainted with Lemma, Marcus and Shamal, who became like sons to them when they needed family. After LaVerna’s stroke, Lawrence became an attentive caregiver for the next nine years until her death.
As a father and husband he was soft-spoken and patient, and often had a twinkle in his eye. He was proud and supportive of all his children and grandchildren. Lawrence was a prolific writer, preacher and teacher, a teller of stories, a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend to many. He was known as a “walking encyclopedia in Mennonite history”, a great help to those doing family research, and a wise mentor. Lawrence was deeply invested in the work of preserving Mennonite history, right until the month of his death - chairing committees, giving lectures, answering email questions, writing his memoirs, and editing and mailing many newsletters, into his nineties.
He was beloved by many friends old and new at the Lindenwood Terrace, where he lived comfortably the last seven years until his death.
Lawrence was a man who in his own words, “wondered as he wandered”, his life at times meandering like the Buffalo Creek where it began. Like other men of his generation his focus was education and finding a career path, but days before his death, though experiencing much confusion, he said clearly and with deliberation, “I could not have imagined a more obliging and caring family to be the legacy of my life and work.”
We love you too, Dad. You will be so missed.
A public funeral service for Lawrence Klippenstein will be held on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at 2:00 p.m., at the Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship Church, 150 Bayridge Ave., Winnipeg. (Masks required, vaccinations optional but preferred.)
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the MCC Ukraine Emergency Response (https://donate.mcccanada.ca/cause/ukraine-emergency-response)