Memorial service will be held at 2:00PM on Monday July 25, 2022 at the Winkler Emmanuel Mennonite Church with interment prior at the Weidenfeld Cemetery. Viewing will be from 1PM-6PM on Sunday at Wiebe Funeral Home, Winkler. 

Otto Hamm

1925 - 2022

Otto Hamm was born on February 12, 1925 in Altona, MB to Isaac and Maria (nee Schellenberg) Hamm. When Otto was five, the family moved to Gouldtown, SK where his parents built the local store. Both sets of grandparents lived nearby, and he spent many days with them. As a teenager he drove the truck for pickup and deliveries. The store was built along the railroad line. His love of trains was encouraged by the relationships he built with some of the workers. He spent grade 11 at Rosthern Junior College. When he returned from school, the family was packed and ready to move to McGregor, MB. Dad spoke fondly of the interdenominational church they attended in McGregor. This is where he met his future wife, Margaret Neufeld. They were baptized May 6, 1945 by Bishop David Schulz and married August 18, 1946. Shortly after their marriage, they moved to Winnipeg so dad could complete teacher's training. Prior to their marriage, dad spent a year as a permit teacher as a conscientious objector during the war. Mom worked and dad went to school. He had two teaching assignments, one in Thames and another in Grand Rapids. After Grand Rapids they moved back to Altona where they trained for the pastorate and the work in Cross Lake. By this time, four children had joined the family: Sharon, David, Jane and Wes. In 1956 dad traveled together with Jake Hildebrandt to Cross Lake to build the family home. The family joined him just before Christmas. Cross Lake was home till 1966. Cathy (nee McKay) Merrick joined our family for a time after we left Cross Lake. We cherished another sister in our family. Our move to Southern Manitoba was a huge cultural change for the family. Dad became pastor at Bethel Bergthaler Mennonite Church, and we made our home in Winkler. Dad suffered a stroke in 1967, a year and a half after he started the work at Bethel and in 1969 a seizure. With prayers, determination and Mom's support he began a slow and often discouraging recovery. Dad and Mom pastored churches in Cross Lake, Hochfeld, Steinbach, and Portage la Prairie before retiring to their farmyard in Osterwick in 1990. They built their own little oasis of beauty before moving to Winkler and then Altona. Their last retirement home was in Lions Court in Winkler.

Of all the memories and impressions we might share today, the most important is that Otto Hamm was our father, and that we loved him. Dad had an eye for beauty. And it expressed itself in music, in his rock garden, his orchard, in the pyramid he almost completed, in his photographs, and on and on… Dad began singing in the family quartet as a young boy. As he got older, dad sang in many choirs and quartets. And then he taught us to sing and play the violin. This was not always appreciated, but dad was committed. As recently as Christmas of 2020, dad sang one of his favourites, The Holy City. As recently as ten days ago, he told one of us to play in tune! His love for music lives on in his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Perhaps not the music he might have enjoyed, but a gift to his family, nonetheless. To say that dad was organized is a great understatement. Whether it was his systematic way of studying Greek and Cree or creating a detailed map with all of his church members marked by pins or creating what we believe to be the only library north of The Pas with the Dewey Decimal system. It was all well-organized. While his brother-in-law and his children would tease him from time to time, those organizational skills helped him recover from a stroke and serious seizure in his early 40’s. He played ping pong to re-develop fine motor skills in his left hand. He ran stairs at a night supervising job to strengthen his left leg. And as his memory started to fail later in life, his habit of writing everything down in his date book helped him to function alone much longer than he might have otherwise. Clearly, not all of his descendants have inherited this gift.

As a young man, dad was adventurous, a risk taker. When he moved his young family to Grand Rapids to teach, and then later to Cross Lake, he didn’t receive a lot of support. Some felt that leaving his jr. management position at CVO was too much of a risk. Dad was determined that Cross Lake was where God had called us. To get the lay of the land around Cross Lake, dad decided to hire a couple of guides and travel from Norway House to Cross Lake by canoe. In the middle of the night, one of the guides turned off the little 5 horsepower motor and asked dad, “Are we going the right way?” And dad apparently responded that, yes, because they were going with the current. We are all grateful for mom and dad’s commitment to the community of Cross Lake. Our childhood was unlike most others and has impacted all of us in significant ways. At an evening of appreciation in Cross Lake in 2016, it was clear that mom and dad were loved; loved because they committed ten years of their lives to the community. Both mom and dad often referred to their time in Cross Lake as the best in their lives. Dad cared deeply for his family. When we were young, he organized what he called Hamm Tribe. It was basically a family night for memorizing scripture, playing monopoly and receiving our monthly 10 cents allowance. Dad struggled with the times when each of us “left the nest”. However, dad and mom were determined to stay in touch. So this meant trips to Chicago, Tennessee, Virginia, Inuvik, and many trips to Alberta. When son-in-law, Les left the RCMP, Les and Sharon moved to Yellowknife. Les was flying Herc aircraft and Sharon was selling real estate. Dad and mom borrowed the in-laws little holiday trailer and trekked across the muskeg to visit. Les and Sharon were building a house, and Dad went north to help. During construction, several of Les’ crew came to help, and dad developed a good friendship with Marc. Marc’s first language was French and his 2nd language was Franglish, seasoned with the adjectives, adverbs and pronouns that he had picked up in the military. Marc didn’t ask for a board, he described it. Miraculously, dad knew which board it was. These trips were a part of the glue that kept us connected, and an indication that dad was willing to step out of his comfort zone to show his love.

After mom passed away, we all tried to help fill the lonely hours of dad’s life. Friday night suppers were often spent at David and Elf’s home. It was a good time to get to know dad in a new and different situation. Reminiscing often filled a good portion of the conversation. Dad always seemed appreciative of this time, and usually didn’t get to leave without a robust good-bye hug from his great granddaughter. There was a bit of a more familiar and special relationship that developed from these times. However, it became apparent after a while that dad needed to leave early, and it was only after some time that we learned that there was another interest awaiting him in Lion’s Court. Sometime later, Margaret Letkeman began to accompany dad to our family events. And it was easy to see that Margaret brought out the best in dad. They shared a love for God, for books, for music and for car rides together. As Margaret shared with us, “Otto was always a gentleman.” Margaret also experienced what we often had; to ask dad a simple question was like an invitation for an answer that was long enough to warrant a benediction. Dad and Margaret became very close, and when dad moved into Salem Home, Margaret was his most faithful visitor, companion, and friend. As a family, we have come to love and appreciate Margaret very much. We are so grateful for the way in which their relationship enhanced dad’s quality and length of life. We also want to express our thanks to Margaret’s family for accepting dad into their circle of love, and for sharing Margaret with us. We are grateful for the 97 years God granted to our father. And we are grateful that he is embraced in the arms of Jesus, experiencing a love he could never have imagined.

On Tuesday July 19, 2022 at Salem Home, Otto passed away. Dad was predeceased by his wife Margaret in 2015. He is survived by five children and their families, one brother, one sister, two sisters-in-law and his special friend, Margaret Letkeman. Funeral service was held on Monday July 25, 2022 at the Emmanuel Mennonite Church with private interment at the Weidenfeld Cemetery.

Wiebe Funeral Home, Winkler

In care of arrangements

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