Agatha Shellenberg

Agatha Siemens Schellenberg

1899 – 2003

Agatha Schellenberg.jpgAgatha Siemens Schellenberg (nee Dyck) was born near Plum Coulee on Feb. 20, 1899, the second child of John H. and Agatha Dyck.  Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Queen Centre School District, near Kane.  Farming was the family’s livelihood.  Mom became a seasoned farmhand, working the fields for endless hours.  Mom looked forward to the winter months when she would be able to attend school some of the time.  As the size of the family and the workload increased, Mom, as one of the older children, was often required to help at home, tending to the gardening, housework and younger children. A growing family ensured that there was no shortage of work and no danger of being lonely.

Mom certainly understood the pioneer lifestyle.  Horses were a reliable means of transportation for many years of her life.  And then one day, her dad announced that a car was coming along the dam about half a mile from their farm.  Everyone tried to catch a glimpse of this modern wonder.  Considerable time elapsed before another car came along. 

When the family moved to a location south of Morden, Mom began working at the home of Judge Lock.  This was a great learning experience in many ways, and after four years of employment, she felt quite comfortable speaking the English language.  The family’s move to a farm at Osterwick was significant.  The land was fertile, and the associations would be long term.

Another phase of life was about to begin for Mom.  A young man by the name of Isbrand Siemens had come to Winkler from Mexico.  It was while he was working as a farmhand that Mom and Dad met.  On April 10, 1928, Easter Day, they were married at her home in Osterwick. The couple made their home first at Waldheim, and then at Glencross where their first daughter, Grace, was born.

When Mom’s parents moved to B.C., the farm at Osterwick became available to Mom & Dad. Three more daughters were born, Irene, May and Ruth.  Dr. Wiebe, one of the few Winkler residents who surpassed Mom in longevity, attended all four births. 

Sometime in 1948, Dad began to feel unwell. Finally, farm help was obtained to put in the crop. When the official diagnosis of cancer was finally made, Mom cared for Dad for about three weeks, and then he passed away at home.  He was only 49 years old.  This was a terribly difficult time for Mom and the whole family.

Mom courageously stayed on the farm for six more years. She did yard work, chored, sewed, crocheted, gardened, cooked and canned.  She had not learned to drive car, so the grey 1946 Chevy stood in the garage almost unused, waiting for a friend or neighbor to take the family shopping or to church in Winkler. 

In 1955 Mom sold the farm to her children and moved to Winkler. She enjoyed tending the garden and flowerbeds, did most jobs such as painting the house herself, and covered many miles as she walked from 11th Street to the downtown to look after necessary business .  She welcomed grandkids and provided delicious meals when family came to visit.  She took a few breaks – trips to B.C. to see her relatives and to Wisconsin and Nova Scotia to visit children.  Reading, crocheting, embroidery and sewing gave her much satisfaction and also filled many lonely hours.  In 1971 Mom moved to a more convenient location on 6th Street, across from the Bergthaler Church where she attended services and was part of the sewing circle.

On July 23, 1972 Mom married David Schellenberg .  Once again she joined the M.B. Church where she had been a member before she met Dad.  They had a few healthy years together before Dad Schellenberg became ill.   In 1981 they sold their house and moved into Lions Manor.  In 1982 Dad Schellenberg was admitted to Salem Home, and he passed away on Oct. 9, 1984. 

During this time there were clear signs that Mom’s health was deteriorating.  The family was concerned and consultation with her doctor resulted in the withdrawal of the prescription medication she had been taking for years. Steadily her health improved and she was able to read again and enjoy time with family. She began having pride in her advancing age as she anticipated reaching one hundred!  And when that milestone birthday of one century arrived, she celebrated in style. 

In March of 1998, Mom experienced the death of her oldest daughter Grace.  Several times she commented that she would willingly trade places with her if only she could.

Letting go and acknowledging the need for a personal care home was a difficult and somewhat bewildering step for her to take.  However, once she made the move to Salem in June of 2002, she adjusted well.  Though she maintained her independent spirit to the end, she frequently expressed her gratitude for the wonderful care she received.  She was treated with dignity and felt loved and secure.  She was still able to read large print  material and enjoyed attending church with her family.

On Sunday, July 29, Mom was admitted to the hospital with congestive heart failure.  Even though she had difficulty breathing and speaking, she clearly entered the conversation with her family through her eyes and gestures.  Those staying at her bedside, had a sense of a peaceful home going.  Psalm 23 was shared with her.  How appropriate -- she seemed to “fear no evil” as she was passing “through the valley of the shadow of death” because the Lord was her Shepherd. 

Mom was predeceased by her first husband Isbrand Siemens, her second husband David Schellenberg, her daughter Grace, her parents John & Agatha Dyck, and three brothers and six sisters.

Mom is survived by three daughters and four sons-in-law: Frank Wieler (Grace), Irene and Lloyd Siemens, May and Harvey Myers, and Ruth and John Janzen; grandchildren:  Murray Wieler (great grandchildren Chris & Teri Wieler, Dana & Chris Klassen), Cheryl Wieler, Sandra and Steve Banman (great grandchildren Erin, Joel, & Jordan), Danny Wieler;  Gerry Siemens (great granddaughter Rowen), Ren and Carolyn Siemens; Verne & Irene Wieler (great grandchildren Sonya, Kendell, and Branden; Heather Unrau (great grandchildren Troy and Destiny), Cindy Hummel (great grandson Rylan); Michelle Janzen and James Kornelsen (great grandchildren Maya and Solace), Michael Janzen, and Matthew Janzen. She is also survived by two great great grandchildren, Cheyanne and Jarett, her brother Peter Dyck and sister Mary Hildebrand both of B.C., and Margaret Krahn (Peter) of Winkler, sister-in-law Liz Dyck of Winkler, and numerous relatives.

In her imperfect state, Mom always relied on God for the strength she needed in the various circumstances of a life that spanned three centuries, and that faith was evident till the end.   Her love and concern for family was constant, and her unwavering hope and prayer was that her children and their families would all be part of the larger family of faith.  We know that it was time for Mom to go to her heavenly home, but we will miss her greatly as a precious individual and a focal point in our family.

Funeral service was held on Thursday, July 31, 2003 at the Winkler M.B. Church at 3 p.m. with Arnie Neufeld and James Peters officiating.  Interment followed at the Winkler Cemetery with Wiebe Funeral Home Winkler in charge of arrangements.  Donations may be made to M.C.C.  The family thanks all those who so caringly helped Mom have quality of life – homecare workers, Salem and hospital staff, neighbors and friends.

Wiebe Funeral Home Winkler in care of arrangements.

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