Obituary of Evelyn (nee Hamm) Gerbrandt
Evelyn passed away peacefully at the PCH in Niverville on Friday, January 19th, 2024, at the age of 91. She is survived by her two children, Dorothy and Jim (Deb), two grandchildren, Jayme (JP) and Dustin, and three great-grandchildren Ariel, Kylie Anne and Dustin Jr; along with numerous in-laws as well as nieces and nephews. Evelyn was predeceased by her parents Peter and Helen Hamm, five older siblings and Harvey and Len.
Born in Steinbach, MB during the 30’s, Evelyn Hamm was the youngest of six. At that time, they lived at the edge of Steinbach on a small piece of land where they did mixed farming. The family were church goers but when revival meetings came to Steinbach, Mom, her parents and older sisters came to see themselves as sinners in need of a Savior.
Due to war and other difficulties in school, Mom did not complete high school. She helped her father on the farm and in those days the highlight of summer was to go to southern Ontario and work at the canning factory, which she did for a number of years accompanying her father. Decades later she took her children down one summer to experience cherry and peach picking while she worked in the cannery and even introduced her children to some of the folks that she had worked with decades previously.
In October 1953, Harvey and Evelyn were married and went on their honeymoon to Niagara Falls by motor bike. Their daughter Dorothy was born to them a year later, and two years later a son Jim was born. During this time, Evelyn continued working. In later years Evelyn would recall that often she would put her two kids in a wagon and take them along as she would go to different clients to providing foot care since she had taken classes in reflexology. She also continued housecleaning as added income but soon realized the need for a higher education and a better paying job.
Harvey went to Barber school and when he completed his training the family moved to Niverville, since there was no barber in that town. As both children were in school by this time, Evelyn went back to high school and completed her Grade 12 so that she could continue on to Teachers College.
Her first year of teaching was in New Bothwell at a 3-room school. She taught Grades 3, 4 and 5. The next year, she got the prize possession of the first kindergarten class in Niverville, but because no classroom was yet available, they had to use the then old MB church basement. The next year a classroom was available and for the next 10 years she taught 2 classes of kindergarten every day. She loved teaching and chose teaching over nursing because that would give her the opportunity to be at home when her children were home. She took advantage of that and had taken many family summer trips outside the province.
They say once a teacher always a teacher. Well, that was true of Evelyn. As if Monday-Friday wasn’t enough, she also taught S.S and a variety of 4H subjects, besides tending to a garden, freezing and canning, baking buns, quilting, sewing, hosting single Moms on Wednesdays, providing respite care for children, and home care for seniors, and she also composed a family genealogy history book. There was nothing she enjoyed more than spending time with her children and grandchildren creating beautiful memories. She never missed a family event such as her grandchildren’s school’s functions or the opportunity to take a road trip with Dorothy when she came home. Her heart and her home were open to all. She was adventurous even as a senior citizen which included a backpacking trip to Europe solo! She treasured her many friends throughout her life and was always willing to lend a helping hand.
After a trip to Thailand in 1982 to see her daughter Dorothy, Evelyn purposed in her heart that after she retired from teaching, she would go overseas and help mothers who were struggling with “home schooling”. She had made five trips to Thailand and each time got recruited to help teach.
As her health deteriorated her last ten years were spent at the Heritage Life PCH in Niverville. Her family would like to extend a special thanks to the staff at the PCH for their exceptional care, compassion and patience shown towards Evelyn.
The funeral service will be held on Saturday, February 3, 2024, at 2:00 p.m. at Word of Life Mission Church, Niverville, MB., with viewing one hour prior. The interment will take place at Hespeler Cemetery, Niverville, MB.
Memorial donations in memory of Evelyn can be made to Heritage Life Personal Care Home or to Ethnos Canada.