Obituary of John Sawatzky
John Sawatzky, age 86, of Steinbach passed away peacefully surrounded by family, on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023, at Bethesda Regional Health Centre, Steinbach, Manitoba.
He is survived by his beloved wife Adina (Brandt) Sawatzky, one son, Dale Sawatzky (Shannon – Tobin, Gemma), and three daughters, Sharon Guenther (Tom – Joseph, Maria, Ethan), Candace Georgijevic (Igor – Nikita, Maksim) and Michelle Koop (Chris – Paxton, Tyson). He will be lovingly remembered by sisters, Helen, Kathy (Bernie), Betty (Ben) and Susan, brothers, Glen (Tina) and Henry (Gertie). He was predeceased by two siblings in infancy, brothers Dave (Lillian) and Ed, sister Trude, and brothers-in-law Eddie Wiebe and Walter Tait.
John was born back in 1937 at the Altona Hospital. He grew up in Halbstadt till the age of eight and then, moved with his family to MacGregor. At the age of 15, dad stayed home from school for two years to help his father on the farm and his ailing mom and then, when he turned 17 he went to Elim Bible School in Altona to further his education. After that he returned to MacGregor to finish his high school, as far as he needed, to enter Teachers’ College to pursue his dream of becoming a teacher.
It was at Teachers’ College summer school that he met the love of his life, Adina Brandt. They were married on August 16, 1959, and four children followed. Along the way dad taught in Morocco, Africa, Steep Rock and Moosehorn, MB, Churchbridge and Kamsack, SK, and then, in 1970 finally settled for good in Steinbach, Manitoba. In the meantime, John returned to Bible School for a year and after the birth of their fourth child, went to the University of Manitoba to complete his Bachelor of Education.
John and Adina loved travelling and placed a lot of importance on exploring the world with their family and later in life, just the two of them. Highlights along the way included teaching missionary kids in Morocco, building a motorhome out of a bread van for many family camping trips, leading the EMC Youth group on a cyclathon called “God’s Cycling Disciples”, Disney, cycling all the way to Florida with Dale and two of his friends, taking the entire family to the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, visiting Candace in Korea and Germany multiple times, spending time with Dale and Shannon in Malaysia, cruising Hawaii and Alaska, and the tradition of over four decades of family camping at Falcon Lake campground.
No question John was known for how active he was in SO many ways. Not only in his years of golfing and curling but in his leading of the congregational singing, the Sunday school teaching he did and numerous committees, choirs and clubs that he was such an essential part of.
John was a gifted singer and one of his greatest joys was performing. He was a member of numerous choirs including his longest and latest stint with the Eastman Male Choir. He was a talented soloist and later in life, completed 12 tours with Far East Broadcasting ministering to countless people with his incredible voice. For about 20 years, he sang as 1st tenor with the Freedom Quartet but perhaps his greatest pride and joy was the countless times he enjoyed watching his children and grandchildren sing and play their musical instruments.
But no question, the thing we will remember the most about John Sawatzky, or “Smiling Johnny”, more than anything he DID, was the person that he was and how he made all of us feel. If any of his children or grandchildren were doing anything… anywhere… anytime… he and mom were there. The most incredible support, our #1 fans, without fail, without complaint, and without any talk of effort. They just loved it.
Whenever anyone needed help, he simply said “Yes”. That’s just who he was, and he never expected anything in return.
He showed love and joy to everyone he met. A love and joy he truly believed came from his faith in a loving God. He never wavered from wanting to live the life he was given, for the Lord. His family, his friends, his students, and even complete strangers were blessed recipients of his smile and his unconditional love. The world doesn’t seem quite right without him in it, but the goodness and light he poured into all of us is ours now to pour into others.
Donations in John’s memory may be made by mail with cheque or credit card to:
3200 – 8888 Odin Crescent
Richmond, BC V6X 3Z8
ONLINE at: febcanada.org.
We will be celebrating this incredible life well lived on Tuesday, October 10, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. at the Steinbach Evangelical Mennonite Church, 422 Main Street, Steinbach, MB.
Public viewing will begin at 12:00 noon at the church and a reception, where we invite you to share your thoughts, will follow. Burial will follow at the Heritage Cemetery, Steinbach, MB.