Henry T. Friesen (known as Heinrich, Hein, Hein T, Enrique, Taco, Nacho etc.) was born on December 15, 1953- a particularly cold day in Durango, Mexico. He was the first-born child of Abram & Margaretha Friesen.
One interesting thing he experienced as a young boy was when a skunk crawled into Henry’s bedroom and bit him on the leg; to loosen the skunk’s grip, his father had to choke the animal while holding down its tail.
Henry’s early years came with more than their share of challenges. When he was 7, his mother suffered severe burns from a woodstove incident. After 10 months in the hospital, she died due to complications from a mix-up in a blood transfusion. During the time she was hospitalized, Henry and his four sisters were shuffled among grandparents and family. His mother’s death was a deep loss for Henry, and he talked of desiring to know her even in recent years.
After his mother passed, Henry’s newlywed uncle and aunt came to live with them in their house. His Dad worked at a distance and was usually gone for a week at a time. Occasionally, Henry was able to join his father for a week of field work. When Henry was 11, his father remarried, and the family moved to Shipyard, Belize shortly thereafter. Henry and his sisters had to work many hot days in the fields in order to help the family make ends meet. 14 more siblings were added to the family .
After three years in Shipyard, his family moved to Spanish Lookout, where Henry started working at Isaak Dyck’s farm picking eggs. After that he began working at the chicken processing plant a couple days per week and driving CAT the rest of the week for Abe and Ike Penner. Moving to this new community came with significant difficulties in being accepted since Henry was from a different culture. This caused him struggles of bitterness that he battled for many years to overcome.
Henry was baptized on July 25, 1971. On February 8, 1976, Henry married Margaretha Dueck. They were blessed with five children, including their firstborn son Robert who lived for only one day.
Henry had a variety of jobs and owned several businesses throughout his life. An owner of the Esso filling station /tire shop where he fixed many a tire. And Farmers’ Feed Mill. And a auto body shop where he rebuilt totalled vehicles; he then went on to start a business called General Automotive selling heavy truck parts, which required many trips to Houston and Dallas and gained many long term friends.
In March 1998, he decided to sell his share of the business and moved his family to Arborg, MB. There he built strong friendships working for Okno Manufacturing for seventeen years, followed by Romafa for the last five years. Which he enjoyed tremendously, due to the love he received from his boss and co-workers. His last day at work there was July 5th of this year.
During his first years in Manitoba, Henry really enjoyed hunting. He has also played many games of golf with friends. Aviation was also an interest, and he made his pilot’s license in 1995. In 2010 he crashed his plane due to engine failure where he miraculously survived but had major back pains due to a fractured back, Henry loved going fishing, camping trips and BBQing steaks with family and friends.
Henry was a very sociable person. And will be remembered by his jokes and contagious laugh which made him a priceless contributor at the coffee table. Everyone Henry met he considered a friend. Children and youth in general and his grandchildren in particular, were his favourite.
In the last five years, Henry was able to have meaningful conversations with others that helped him to process the difficulties of his early years. He also gained a deeper assurance of salvation by God’s grace.
And had a hunger to expand his knowledge of the word of God and build his Relationship with his Heavenly Father. He particularly enjoyed the Monday morning devotion times at his place of work.
Henry was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early 2018. This was hard for him to accept, but he was so grateful when an effective treatment was found shortly thereafter.
In July of 2021, Henry began to experience new back pain and by April 2022, he began seeking medical help. The pain became excruciating by July; after numerous ER visits with no success, Henry flew to Merida, Mexico to seek for help on Aug. 25 , not realizing he would never come home again .After a back surgery in Mexico, infection took hold, and he came back to Winnipeg where he was admitted to Health Science Centre and received two more surgeries. Along with the severe infection, and evidence of new cancer; all treatments were ineffective. He was then transferred to Arborg Hospital and placed in palliative care on November 3. Henry passed away on November 16, 2022 at 6:17 a.m. At the age of 68.
Henry was predeceased by his parents, two sisters, three brothers-in-law, and his firstborn son. He is succeeded by his wife, Greta, and four children with their families: Glenn & Lisa Friesen (Tyrell, Damon, Mason); Beverly & Norman Penner (Denika, Ambria, Tamesha, Tyrin); Roger & Margaret Friesen (Logan, Avery, Leah); Kendra & Benny Wiens (Kelaya, Beckham). He will also be fondly remembered by many friends, neighbours, and co-workers.
The family wishes to Thank all the friends who supported us with love through visitations, finances, gifts and food.