Henry Klassen

Henry Klassen

1933 - 2023

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Obituary of Henry Klassen

Henry was born on April 6th, 1933, to John U. and Maria Klassen (nee Friesen) in the rural municipality of Hanover. The fifth of eight children, Henry had to work hard on the family farm, especially since his father was wheelchair-bound and later bedridden with Multiple Sclerosis. This forged in him the realization that he did not want to be a farmer when he grew up.  He struggled to receive consent from his mother and the church to attend high school in the town of Steinbach. Permission was finally granted when Henry promised to become a teacher.

 

Coming from the farm and being shy by nature, it was difficult for Henry to attend grade 11 classes with the town children, but he was determined and finished top of the class. Henry fulfilled his promise to his mother and received his teaching certificate, teaching in different towns in Manitoba. He also attended Steinbach Bible Institute in preparation for his career in church missions. 

 

Henry married Ramona Loewen in September 1954. The two of them bonded over their shared faith and their dream of travelling as missionaries. Their first three children were born in Canada – Phillip in Steinbach, Terry in Wynyard, and Ladine in Flin Flon. During these years, Henry and Ramona prepared for a call to the mission field. In 1962, Henry loaded up their belongings and headed off to Belize where the family served under the Gospel Missionary Union for nine years. Christine, their youngest, was born during this time. One of Henry’s proudest achievements was establishing King’s College, a high school which is still going strong today. 

 

Back in Canada Henry continued to be involved in missions by serving on the AIMM board and was Executive Secretary of the EMC Board of Missions for many years.  These positions had Henry travel to many countries, on various continents, with Ramona accompanying him on a few of these. 

 

Henry also volunteered on the church board of the Steinbach Evangelical Mennonite Church where his knowledge of protocols and familiarity with Mennonite history were gifts he shared with the church. 

 

Henry retired from the Board of Missions in 2001. Although retirement brought a more relaxed routine, he continued to be actively involved in his church and various missionary organizations. In 2007, at the age of 74, Henry accepted the position as interim CEO of the HavenGroup in Steinbach at a pivotal time for the organization.  This was a position Henry greatly enjoyed and when his term was over, he accepted a position as chair of the HavenGroup board.

Henry’s involvement in various organizations gradually waned, but he remained committed to staying active and spending time with family. He and Ramona continued living independently, even as his health faded in the last year of his life. At the beginning of June, Henry was admitted to hospital when he became too weak to care for himself. Over the weeks it became clear that his body was shutting down, and family gathered round to keep him company in his final days.

 

Henry is survived by his wife of 68 years, Ramona (nee Loewen); his children Phillip (Lori) Klassen, Terry Klassen (Grace Dueck), Ladine Klassen, and Christine (Jake) Unger; his grandchildren, Lisa (Robert) Heinrichs, Jeff Klassen (Romain Chareyron), Natasha Klassen (Andrew Hector), Jacquelyn Klassen (Christian Lacko), Bright (Gabriel) Thorsteinson, Robert Klassen, Riley Unger (Crimson Childs), Hannah Hart (Alex Adams), and Kiera Hart.  He is also survived by 4 great-grandchildren, Luke, Peter, Jack, and Bethany Heinrichs. In addition, he leaves his sisters Anna Kroeker and Elma Neufeld, several siblings-in-law, cousins, nieces, and nephews. 

 

The family wishes to extend a special thanks to Henry’s cousin Esther Barkman and to his brother-in-law Kelvin Loewen who have generously helped Henry and Ramona in so many ways.

 

                                                                          

The funeral service for Henry will be held on Saturday, July 8, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. at Birchwood Funeral Chapel, Steinbach, MB, with viewing prior to the service. 

 

Donations in memory of Henry may be made to Evangelical Mennonite Conference Missions, 440 Main St. Steinbach, MB, R5G 1Z5.or click the following link to donate online - Donate

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Saturday
8
July

Funeral Service

2:00 pm
Saturday, July 8, 2023
Birchwood Funeral Chapel
162 PTH 52 W
Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada
(204) 346-1030