In Memory of

Helen

Gugenheimer

Obituary for Helen Gugenheimer

Helen Gugenheimer (Klein)
1929-2023

Our beloved Mother, Oma and Great Oma passed away in the early hours of September 30th, 2023.

Mom was devastated by the loss of her daughter Hannelore (Lori) Grant, September 14, 1989 and her husband Otto in 1996 shortly before their 49th anniversary. She was also predeceased by daughter-in-law Billie; brothers, Peter, Abe and John; sisters, Rita Heinrichs and Katie Verleih; brother-in law Walter Verleih; and sisters-in-law, Pat and Lorraine.

Left to treasure her memory are two daughters, Rosa Dick (Peter), Rita Buckinx (Brian); son Karl; grandchildren, Jennifer, Chris (Lutie), Brian (Linda), Lisa (Brad), Ryan Lee (Janelle), Ryan Kelly (Wendy), Scott (Claire), Keith (Geraldine), David (Alison), Cara (Kevin), Robert (Linda); 23 great grandchildren, and 1 great great-granddaughter; brothers, Ben (Doreen) and Henry; and sister-in-law Betty, as well as many much loved nieces and nephews.

Mom was born March 7, 1929 in Neuendorf, Ukraine. She was the 3rd of 8 children born to Peter and Helene Klein. Due to the Russian oppression, Mom’s family had to flee, eventually arriving in Hunefeld, West Germany in March of 1945. In June of that year she met our Dad at the flax factory where they both worked. They were married July 18, 1947 and soon added 2 children to the family. Life in post war Germany was hard, so in 1953 they immigrated to Canada following Mom’s parents, grandparents and siblings who had immigrated the year before. They spent 1 year in Coaldale, Alberta where our sister Lori was born. When our grandfather discovered an established community of fellow immigrants in Winnipeg he made the trip there, bought a small 2-bedroom bungalow across the street from the North Kildonan Mennonite Church and moved the entire Klein clan, which at that time numbered 15, into that tiny bungalow. Our parents soon found a home of their own and the birth of their 4th child in 1954 completed our family.

Mom was very kind hearted, but she was also fearless, strong willed, fiercely independent, and yes, stubborn. She was meticulous about her home and no matter how much accumulated over the years, it was always immaculate. Her much-used bakeware and tea towels looked brand new even though most of them were 40 plus years old.

Mom’s cooking and baking were legendary. She took great pride in her baking and at family weddings and baby showers most of the baking was hers and we knew the relatives would show up because of it. Mom demonstrated love through food. A friend said that she never set foot in our mother’s kitchen without being fed. We never left her home without a goodie bag of some kind. She lived in her apartment until the age of 92 and her freezer was almost always filled with baking, roll kuchen and perogies, carefully packaged, labeled and dated, ready to be sent home with whichever child or grandchild visited. The youngest great grandchildren called her Cookie Oma. When one of her grandsons got married all he wanted for his wedding supper was Oma’s perogies and schmaunt fat which she single handedly provided to supplement the pulled pork and coleslaw for 100 guests.

Mom loved animals and many a stray dog or cat was fed by her hand. In the winter she left the garage door open and made a nice warm bed for her adopted strays. She never met a dog or cat that she didn’t love and that didn’t love her. When she visited those of us who had dogs, she always arrived with treats for them. She, of course, also fed the birds.
Mom had a strong faith and she loved her church. She enjoyed the fellowship of the Frauen Verein (Ladies Group) where she served as secretary for a period of time. She was a lover and collector of poems and was always happy to read a carefully selected poem at the annual Frauen Verein Christmas program.

Due to health and safety issues, it was necessary for Mom to adjust to a new life at Beacon Hill Lodge. And adjust she did! This was a new beginning for her, making friends with both residents and staff. Even though the location was not ideal for us, Mom enjoyed living there thanks to the incredibly caring staff who always treated her with love and respect.

After Mom’s stroke one of the nurses actually brought her a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Although all the staff were amazing, she made a special connection with a health care aide named Karlos and a recreation facilitator named Dominic who, very quickly, became her “grandsons” and called her Oma. Unfortunately, Dominic left after 6 months to further his education but Mom always still talked about and prayed for him. To the very last Mom’s eyes lit up when Karlos walked into the room. He was Mom’s guardian angel and we owe him and all the staff a tremendous debt of gratitude for making her last year’s happy.

Funeral Service will be held on Wednesday, October 11, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. at the North Kildonan Mennonite Church, 1131 Roch Avenue, with viewing prior to service. Interment at Green Acres Cemetery.