Klassen, William

William “Willie” J Klassen

1949 – 2014 

KlassenWilliamOn Sunday, March 30, 2014, at his home in Morden, MB Willie Klassen, aged 64 years formerly of Wakeham went home to be with Jesus.

William J. Klassen was born to Jacob and Margaret (nee Martens) Klassen on November 12, 1949 at the Bethel Hospital in Winkler, MB.  He was the youngest of 14 children, 2 of which died in infancy.   He grew up in Chortitz Manitoba. Willie was baptized upon the confession of his faith on June 6, 1971 by Bishop John A. Friesen at the Winkler Sommerfeld Mennonite Church.  He was married to the love of his life, Mary Klassen (nee Fehr), daughter to Diedrich and Sara Fehr of Osterwick, on March 4, 1972 in Morden, MB at St. Paul’s United Church.

While at home, Dad helped on his parents’ farm in Chortitz.  After getting married, Dad and Mom lived in Winkler on 2nd Street for 5 years and he did construction while living there.  He enjoyed building.  Benjamin Dale, Leonard William and Tammy Maria were born during these years in Winkler.  Tammy was born in March and then they moved the farm in June 1977 in the Wakeham area which is 10 ½ miles south of Morden where they started a dairy farm.  They had an average of 28 dairy cows they milked and filled their quota designed for 40 cows.  Dad built up his herd so that he needed fewer animals to fill the quota and always cared for the animals. Amanda Christine and Valerie Dawn were born in Morden Hospital during the farming years.

Dad really enjoyed fishing and hunting.  He was talented and had many trophy animals mounted.  He taught his sons, Ben and Len all his hunting techniques and taught the whole family how to fish.  His trips to The Pas for fishing were an annual highlight for him and even enjoyed his hunting so much that he got a Disabled Hunter’s Permit to allow him to go hunting for as long as possible.  Dad always enjoyed when a bunch of Ben and Len’s and his friends would go hunting and then come back to their place for food.  Mom always enjoyed cooking for them no matter what the time was. Gardening was very important to Dad and started plants indoors for many years.  He had an amazing garden and bred some of his own tomato plants.  He cared for his garden meticulously and loved bright flowers. Dad could always be found playing baseball, teaching us children to ride bicycles, dirt bikes and snowmobiles and once in a while having fun chasing Mom with a pail of water or garden hose, to make us laugh.  He loved tickling his children and grandchildren and giving them candy.  Candy at Christmas and Easter were always waited for by everyone.  Even the married children received goody bags.

Later when life became more physically challenging, he kept the laughter going through his words and became known as Candy Grandpa or “Ha-Ha” Grandpa. Though funds were sometimes low, Dad never stopped working hard.  His hands were calloused and broken from all the hard work and he was never too busy or sore to hold his wife or children or grandchildren.  One of his last words on Saturday, were that God had always blessed them with enough food, a house and enough money to help people.  Dad would literally, give the shirt off his back to help others. In the later years, they started fostering children.   He said he wanted to give them an example of a Christian home so that they would have a chance to make one when they would have families of their own.  Dad always wanted them to feel like a part of the family.  Their home was always open to anyone for a safe place to stay, food, clothing, acceptance and love. Growing up, we saw the love of Jesus through our earthly father and have memories of Mom and Dad sitting at the table in the evenings reading the Bible, singing together as Dad played the guitar and mouth organ.  After putting us to bed, we would sometimes go to their room to ask a question and they would be found kneeling at the bedside in prayer with our Lord. Dad found reading difficult and so Mom would often read the Bible to him.  He memorized verses that he could repeat right until the day of his passing.  The Lord’s Prayer was especially important to him because Jesus said he would give us an example of how to pray and then said the Lord’s Prayer.  He would give each of the grandchildren money if they could repeat the Lord’s Prayer.

After a year of high fusarium in the barley, and milling it all winter in the open mill, Dad’s lungs were permanently damaged.  The specialist called it Farmer’s lung and because they were not able to breathe in the barn anymore the cows and quota were sold.  On May 10, 1997, Bill Klassen held an auction on the farm.  In 1998, they moved to 316 – 9th Street North in Morden.  Leaving the farm was a difficult time for Mom and Dad.  But Dad always said that they prayed for a farm where they could raise their children and that prayer was answered.  Dad found work at Farm King in Morden and worked there until November 11, 2005 when his elbow and hand were crushed.  Dad could not walk more than 50 ft. without difficulty breathing and without the use of his left arm; he was on disability for the last 9 years of his life.  Every year Dad would buy pigs and steers for us to butcher.  After his accident, though he could not physically do it himself anymore, he talked us through each step of butchering.  He taught us to provide for our families and always wanted us to have enough meat for the year.

Dad prayed many times of day for strength and asked the Lord to take this cup from him but he said nevertheless not my will but Thine will be done.  He said Jesus was nailed to the cross and who am I? Dad never let those things get his spirit down and enjoyed using his scooter to go for coffee on the fresh spring days and warm summer mornings.    He enjoyed canning, making apple pies in fall and making homemade chocolate at Christmas. The last years were very difficult for Dad.  His allergy for scents and asthma made it difficult for people to visit and he often endured exacerbations of his lungs just to see someone.  In the end, his diagnosis of COPD, Farmer’s lung, emphysema, artery blockages, and arterial fibriration progressed to the point where he could no longer leave his home.  He did not leave the inside of his home from October 2013.  His health steadily declined. Dad was very thankful for the CD’s delivered each Sunday morning from the Morden Sommerfeld Mennonite Church and would listen to each one.  During the week, he would always tell us what he had learnt from that sermon.  He also enjoyed the communion Rev. John Friesen brought to his home.  The passage of Job was his favourite and found great comfort in the story even the day before his passing, he made mention of it.  Saturday March 29, 2013 he asked to see each grandchild for a short time.  Then after enduring great hardship Saturday night because of his breathing he did not have any pain from 6 am but was responsive to us until 9 am.

The crows called out the window, which was open a crack to give him fresh air and the sunlight shone on his face for a moment and he went to sleep to join Jesus.    Mom and each of us children held onto him and he peacefully passed away. He went to his heavenly Father Sunday morning at 9:37 am.

Thank you Jesus for letting us have a good earthly Husband, Dad, Grandpa, brother, brother-in-law and son-in-law.

He leaves to mourn his passing his beloved wife, Mary (nee Fehr) of Morden; two sons, Benjamin and Joanne Klassen of Winkler, Leonard and Carol Klassen of Morden; three daughters, Tammy and Darrel Klassen of Morden, Amanda and Tim Braun of Rosetown and Valerie Klassen of Morden; 12 grandchildren, three sisters and five brothers. He was predeceased by one sister, three brothers, one sister-in-law and three brothers-in-law.

Funeral service was held on Thursday April 3, 2014, at Morden Sommerfeld Mennonite Church with Rev. John Friesen officiating. Interment followed at Chapel Cemetery, Morden.

Thank you to everyone, for your prayers, support, wonderful meals and flowers.  We are grateful to Dr. Earl, Dr. Woelk and Karen Schaak for teaching us to care for Dad and going the extra mile to help him be comfortable.  Dad was very thankful for this. Thank you to Wiebe Funeral Home for your kind help. Donations may be made to assist the family with expenses.

Wiebe Funeral Chapel, Morden in care of arrangements.