Giesbrecht, Karen


Memorial service will be held at 11:00AM on Tuesday September 24, 2019 at the Winkler Bergthaler Mennonite Church. No public viewing. Public devotional will take place at 7:30PM on Monday at Emmanuel Mennonite Church. Private family interment prior to the service at Westridge Memorial Gardens. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Karen’s memory to the Central Manitoba Youth Choir or STARS Air Ambulance

Karen Anne Giesbrecht (nee Friesen)

1965 - 2019 

On Tuesday, September 17, 2019, at St. Boniface Hospital, Karen Giesbrecht, 54 years of Winkler, MB passed away unexpectedly. She is survived by her husband, Dan Giesbrecht, daughter, Jacqueline and son, Patrick, stepson, Danny (Vanessa) Giesbrecht and their children, Adan, Aria and Alexis, stepdaughter, Andrea (Steve) Coukell and their children, Matthew and Lauren, her parents, Henry Irwin and Margaret Friesen, her sister, Kathy (Fred) Unger and their sons, Josh and Ben and her sister, Carol Friesen (Stephen Carney) and their daughter, Sydney.

Karen Anne Giesbrecht née Friesen was born on February 18th, 1965, in Ottawa, ON to Henry Irwin and Margaret Friesen. Shortly thereafter, they moved to live on a farm near Rosser, MB. Karen began her education attending Rosser Elementary School and Grosse Isle School, moving on to Warren Collegiate for high school, where she graduated in 1983. During these years, she began developing her love of choral music. She participated in school choirs at festivals and competitions in Winnipeg and Brandon until she graduated. During these years, Mrs. Marie Cosens became a very influential person in Karen’s musical life and would continue to be for many years. Karen was also involved in all school sports with volleyball being her passion.

Karen’s post-secondary education took her to the University of Winnipeg, where she achieved her Bachelor of Education in 1987. Upon graduation, she moved to Winkler to pursue her first job as a teacher at the Plum Coulee and Border Valley elementary schools. She formed and conducted a volunteer choir at the Plum Coulee School – the first choir she ever conducted. In 1989, Karen began teaching French at Garden Valley Collegiate, where she met Dan Giesbrecht. Dan and Karen got married on June 30, 1990, and had two children, Patrick (1992) and Jacqueline (1994).

When Dan became Vice-Principal at Garden Valley Collegiate, Karen volunteered to transfer to Winkler Elementary School (WES), where she would remain for two decades. She taught junior high French, Language Arts, and Social Studies. During this time, she developed her true passions: music and musical production. With the encouragement of her principal John Zacharias, Karen started a choir program. She volunteered her lunch hours to conduct the Junior High Volunteer Choir and the Junior High Jazz Choir. Her choirs received national recognition and could be seen performing at a variety of regional, provincial, and national events and festivals. Karen always encouraged her students in her choir to join other ensemble groups within the province or nation and would volunteer her time within regional and provincial choral associations. During her time at WES, Karen also co-directed numerous musicals with one of her best friends, her colleague Ms. Louise Fultz. Ever the decorator, Karen loved looking for costumes, choosing the props, and designing the sets.

Karen began her dream job teaching choir the opening year of Northland Parkway Collegiate (2013). She started the choir program from scratch and worked hard to develop it to a similar standard. She co-directed two of her favourite musicals during her time at NPC, Les Misérables and Alice in Wonderland. Upon her death, she was in the process of planning her last production before retirement, Shrek the Musical.

Karen often set time aside to revel in the beauty of nature. Karen enjoyed gardening, watching migrating birds, and going for walks in the Pembina Valley. During these activities, she took many pictures, often using her favourite photo setting: vivid. She loved to increase the variety of flowers in her garden, often trading transplants with friends and visiting other gardens to get new ideas.

Karen adored her family and supported them in their endeavors by attending concerts, presentations, sporting events, and an abundance of baseball games. She bragged about them constantly and took a plethora of pictures, which they will now treasure. She also loved connecting with her stepchildren and their families, and always looked forward to having them over for gatherings and cooking a multitude of dishes for them to enjoy.

Karen loved to travel and plan trips. During her choir trips, she not only wanted her students to be inspired by high-level music but for their horizons to be widened by the vast beauty of this world. She traveled often with her family, most recently to the Maritimes this August. Just a few days after this trip, Karen and Jacqueline drove across northern Ontario to Kingston, where Jacqueline began studying in September. Karen enjoyed sightseeing in Kingston and Ottawa and was able to see the hospital where she was born.

Karen passed away four months before her planned retirement. She had many plans – plans to travel, to further develop community and regional choirs, and to begin many other projects around the house. It is a great sorrow to her family that she will never attain these dreams. Yet her example has taught us several lessons: to live exuberantly, see the beauty in the world around us, to fight for what we care about, and to dream big. 

Livestream link:

Wiebe Funeral Home, Winkler
In care of arrangements


#1 Candace and Dave Stobbe 2019-09-19 14:27
We are so sorry to hear that Karen has passed away so suddenly! You are all in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time! She will be missed!
#2 Roxanne and Randal Dyck 2019-09-19 15:24
We were shocked to learn of Karen's passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you in your grief. She will be missed.
#3 Sandy & Lyndon Friesen 2019-09-19 16:12
So very many happy memories of watching games together.... Karen's always smiling face and cheerful "Hello", along with chats of travels and adventures will be greatly missed!
#4 Linda Giesbrecht Wiebe 2019-09-19 17:51
Our thoughts and prayers are with your family and you, Dan during this difficult time. God’s many blessings will comfort you and guide you through this time. Just remember to reach out for help and try not to do this on your own.
#5 Debbie & Bernie Loewen 2019-09-19 20:07
We are so very sad to hear of Karen’s sudden passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Dan, and your family. May God give you comfort during the difficult time.
#6 Verna Schiller 2019-09-19 21:35
I will always remember Karen's exuberance when talking about the success of the students in her class, choir / school musicals at W.E.S. More importantly, she often shared her pride and joy in the progress and accomplishments of her own children. She loved you deeply Jacqueline and Patrick! Very sorry to hear of her passing; deepest condolences to the entire family!
#7 Brad & Janet Neduzak 2019-09-20 13:39
Please accept our most heartfelt sympathies to you and your family Dan for your loss. Our thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.
#8 Ken Bergen 2019-09-20 16:48
Dan and Family,

Our hearts hurt for you and your family. We extend sincere sympathies and condolences along with thoughts and prayers for all of you in the coming days weeks and months.
Ken and Lois Bergen
#9 David and Murielqx2 Boyes 2019-09-20 20:04
Dan, we are saddened to hear of Karen's sudden passing. She had such a tremendous influence on countless students, including our own children. I always appreciated the times she would bring choirs and choral groups to my school. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers through these difficult days.
#10 Harold Fehr 2019-09-21 11:16
Dan and family: Mina and I met Karen this summer in Winnipeg, She was so cheerful as she always was. We are in Mexico just now so we can't be at the funeral. It truly saddens us to hear of her sudden passing. Our prayers will be with you.
#11 Tim and Dianne Brown 2019-09-21 12:02
Dan and family - we are so very sorry to hear of Karen’s passing. Your loss is great, may the memories of happier times sustain you. We will be praying for you.
#12 Garry & Barbara Froese 2019-09-21 13:04
We are so deeply sorry to hear of Karen’s sudden passing. Our sincere condolences to you Dan and family, as you walk through this difficult time. Thinking of you and praying for God’s peace and comfort.
#13 Don Hamm 2019-09-21 13:51
Dan and family, I am so very sorry to hear of Karen’s passing. Sending hugs and prayers to all of you. Cherish the memories!
#14 Sharon & Brad 2019-09-21 22:12
So sorry to hear about Karen. Our thoughts and prayers are with you Dan and family.
She will be missed dearly!
#15 Sharon & Brad Hildebrand 2019-09-22 00:11
So sorry to hear about Karen your wife. Our thoughts and prayers are with you Dan and your family.
She will be missed dearly!
#16 Monique & Denzil 2019-09-22 20:55
We were so sad to hear of Karen’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Dan, and with your family at this difficult time.
#17 Mary Anne Falk 2019-09-22 22:14
So very sorry to hear about Karen. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
#18 Scott Jantzen 2019-09-23 08:28
Dan, Pat, Jacqueline, and extended family, I am so sorry for your tragic loss. I want you to know that I have been praying for you guys.
#19 Paul and Rita Moen 2019-09-23 20:11
Our thoughts and prayers are with each of you at this difficult time. Karen was a wonderful teacher and a tremendous example of excellence through hard work. May you feel the love and support of family and friends in a special way.
#20 Anne Martens Schaefer 2019-09-24 10:47
Please accept my most heartfelt sympathies to you and your family Dan for your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time and upcoming times as well.
#21 Carolyn Gwyer 2019-09-24 11:20
So incredibly sorry to hear of Karen's passing. What a shock. I didn't know Karen very well but we were colleagues in the Manitoba choral music community and I saw her often at different events and we always had supportive, funny and encouraging conversations. I always admired her work, her devotion to the craft, and her enthusiasm and energy. God bless you, her family and friends, at this time of deep sadness. The loss of this lovely lady will certainly be felt in the Manitoba choral music community as well.
#22 Indeed Broeska 2019-09-24 18:10
My heart goes out to Karen's family. Working with her at Central Manitoba Choral Assos. events was always a joy. My sympathies to you. Blessings.
#23 John and Ruth Janzen 2019-09-24 20:16
We are saddened by the sudden departure of Karen. Her enthusiasm and joy enriched all of our lives. Cherish the great memories and may God comfort and sustain you. Condolences. Shalom. John and Ruth.
#24 Lois Fehr 2019-09-25 08:31
Dear Dan and family,
I am so very sorry for your loss. Karen had an impact on all of our boys and they will all say that she was one of their favorite teachers. Praying for you as you now move on without he
#25 Rhonda Denbow 2019-09-28 02:27
I’m so sorry to hear about Karen’s passing. My heart goes out to you Dan and family. My sincere condolences and prayers as you continue through this heartbreak time.❤️
#26 Curt reimer 2019-10-03 13:46
So sorry Dan and family,loved working with Karen,such a great freind,will miss her,be blessed
#27 Darlene Hiebert 2019-10-05 22:07
Dan & family Karen was a huge influenceour r kids lives.
#28 Darlene Hiebert 2019-10-05 22:18
So sorry to hear about Karen 's passing. She impacted her students. Fantastic Han being.

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