Margaret Krahn Penner (nee Klassen)

1930 - 2015


PennerMargaretMom was born on May 4, 1930 to Peter and Margaratha Klassen in Cauachtemoc, Mexico.  She was the youngest of six children, including three sisters and two brothers.  Her early years were spent on the family homestead in Mexico where her parents farmed.  In 1950 she was joined in marriage to Bernhard S. Krahn.  They were blessed with nine sons and five daughters, three who predeceased her in infancy. The first years of their marriage were spent in Mexico where they endured extreme poverty and many hardships.  Her first child, a daughter, was taken in death at three months of age.  She often spoke of the grief this caused her.  While in Mexico, they were blessed with the births of five more children; Marge, Ben, Abe and Pete, as well as another son who also passed away in infancy.  In 1957 Mom and Dad joined a group of pioneers from their area who had decided to seek a better life in Belize.  While they were there, two more children were born to them, son John and one more son who also died at an early age.  In 1960, when it became apparent that their hopes for a better life would not be realized, they decided to move back to Mexico.  While they were there they were blessed with another son, George and a daughter, Sara.  Life remained unbearably hard and after a time, they emigrated to Winkler, Manitoba where they raised their children and were joined by four more children, son Neil, daughters Ann and Lisa and son Frank.  Their family grew and prospered as their children married and blessed them with 37 grandchildren.  On August 7, 1993, Dad passed away suddenly.  Though she was no longer in good health, she met the challenge of widowhood by earning her living doing home care and later by caring for mentally challenged adults in her home.  In 1998 Mom met and married Jacob Penner, a widower with 10 children.  They enjoyed each other's companionship for eight years and were able to do some travelling which both enjoyed greatly.  With the years, Mom's health steadily declined.  She had numerous surgeries including hip and knee replacement.  During these challenges she was lovingly cared for by Jacob until his death on January 18, 2007.  After suffering a heart attack Mom managed to live semi-independently until she was admitted to Salem Home in January of 2006.

Mom's life was an example of hard work, service to others, a love of fun, a concern for the spiritual and physical well-being of her family and a truly indomitable spirit.  She knew nothing about giving up. 

We loved to hear her tell us stories of her life, though many of them must have been painful for her to re-live.  As a young girl in the 1940's, working in her father's corn field, she was bitten by a rattle snake.  She was carried home where she suffered terribly.  Until the neighbor lady arrived.  When Mom would tell this story she would always shudder, shake her forefinger and say in an ominous tone in low German, "Dann vist eck kreikt vaut de klock yeschlauen haud!" - meaning she knew exactly what this lady's arrival meant.  She was forced to drink a vile concoction and though most people would have thought that the cure was worse than the disease, she did survive. Her life in Belize was also wracked by hardship, disease and death.  Together with Dad and others of the group of pioneers, they hacked out a community in the jungle and started a banana plantation.  They were tormented by mosquitos and the diseases they carry, by unbearable heat and humidity and by army ants that would come in the middle of the night, forcing them to flee their home until the creatures had passed through.  It was here that Dad was both midwife and undertaker, as he delivered the children born here, built a casket and buried the child that died.  Upon leaving Belize, Mom endured a terrifying channel crossing in a small open boat, clinging in terror to her children lest they be thrown overboard. In Canada her life did become easier but was still not without challenges that would have defeated many women.  She told of one year when she worked tirelessly all summer to grow and can hundreds of jars of food that was to sustain her family over the winter.  The jars were placed in an underground cellar for storage.  Unbelievably, the door was left open in the frigid Manitoba cold and all the jars froze and broke, leaving all her hard work in ruins.  Years later, her grief over this incident was still evident in her eyes as she talked. While the hardships were many, so were the joys.  She took great pride in the 15 years during which she was employed as a home care worker, serving with love and respect those who could no longer care for themselves.  Her family was also a great joy.  Who will forget noisy Christmas gatherings and Sunday faspas at Gramma's house with the smell of fresh buns and delicious homemade soups permeating the air and making your stomach growl? How many ice cream pails of homemade candied popcorn did we devour?  Or the rollkuchen and watermelon in the summer?  And the tupperware container with the golden syrup, peanut butter and jam in its three separate compartments?  And course, the Aggravation game made by Grampa.  It was over yet another game of Aggravation that she showed what one granddaughter carefully termed "her sneaky, fun side".  She was deeply offended to be laughingly called a cheater, but she did roll an unusual number of sixes and won a high percentage of the games she played.  And oh, the delight on her face as she giggled like a teenager when she would send your marble home!

Her years at Salem home presented new challenges to overcome.  To be confined to a wheelchair with little to do that in her estimation could be considered useful, was one of the hardest things she had ever faced.  So with characteristic determination and with the help of her children and especially her son Abe, she kept her hands busy with small crafts that were a constant source of amazement to all who saw them.  Aprons and pillowcases were embroidered, lampshades were redecorated, sequined pictures and metallic scratch art were completed and hundreds of medicine cups were saved by fellow Salem residents to be recycled into battery operated lamps decorated with silk flowers.  After many a visit in her room she would accompany us to the main doors where we would go out into the sunshine to resume our lives.  She would watch somewhat wistfully, wave and then quietly and bravely wheel herself back to her room. Mom also had a deep concern for the spiritual.  It was in 1995 that Mom grew fearful that should she die, she would not go to Heaven.  When it was explained to her that all she needed to do was accept what the Bible says, which is that she needed to confess that she was a sinner and ask Jesus to save her; she gladly knelt and prayed.  On her next visit to Mexico, she had the priceless privilege of leading her sister and brother-in-law to the Lord.  Oh, her excitement over that!  Her concern for the salvation of others extended to her new husband, Jacob.  On the morning of their wedding they knelt together and Jacob also prayed to receive Christ’s free gift of salvation.  She also spoke often of her concern for hers and Jacob's children and grandchildren.  She prayed countless times and shed countless tears for those she loved.  More than anything, she hoped that each one would come to understand the fact that we are all sinners, and that no one can be good enough to deserve Heaven.  She believed that what the Bible says is absolute truth. Each person must repent of their sin, recognize that Jesus paid the penalty for that sin by His death on the cross, and ask Him to save them.

In the last week of her life, Mom called out repeatedly, "Oh, loving heavenly Father, please open the door".  Just before 5:30 am on January 3, 2015, Mom breathed her last earthly breath with her daughter Marge at her side.  This time it is we who are left behind and she who goes through the doors and into eternal sunshine. Mom reached the age of 84 years and 8 months.  She is survived by her four daughters, Marge and husband, Jake Suderman of Miami, Sara and husband, Jim Motyer of Lac du Bonnet, Ann and husband, Brad Hall of Calgary, AB and Lisa of Calgary, AB as well as seven sons, Ben and wife, Bette of Wynndel, B.C., Abe and wife, Marianne of Winkler, Pete and wife, Janet of Morden, John and wife, Sandra of Horndean, George and wife, Lisa of Hochfeld, Neil and wife, Martha of Reinland and Frank and wife, Eva of Hochfeld as well as 37grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren, 5 stepsons and 5 stepdaughters and their families. She was predeceased by her first husband, Bernhard S. Krahn, her second husband, Jacob Penner and by three children in infancy.

Funeral service at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday January 8, 2015 at the Chortitz Old Colony Mennonite Church with interment at the Church Cemetery. If friends so desire, donations may be made in Margaret’s memory to the Anchor of Love Orphanage.

Wiebe Funeral Home, Winkler

In care of arrangements

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