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Helene Rempel

Helene Rempel

Sunday, September 21st, 1930 - Sunday, September 6th, 2020
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Obituary

Helene Sara Rempel (Loepp)
September 21, 1930 - September 6, 2020

Born the youngest of 6 siblings in Mariental South Russia (Ukraine), she was predeceased by her husband Franz, parents, Franz and Anna Loepp (Matthies),all her siblings: halfbrothers Peter, Abraham and Jakob, and sisters Anna and Maria .
In the village of Mariental Helene attended school with her siblings until 13 years old. Sept 12, 1943, they were forced to leave their home due to the second world war. Helene was a part of the Mennonite refugees of Russia, who travelled west across Europe searching for peace and a new home where they could practice their religion and observe their pacifist traditions in peace.
In January 1947 the MCC had arranged a ship, the Vollendam, to transport Mennonite refugees to Paraguay in South America to start a colony there, and the voyage to a strange country began for Helene and her mother, sisters Anna and Maria and brother Jakob. Life was difficult there in the extreme heat and surrounded by jungle and all the dangers that came with it, wild animals, poisonous snakes and spiders, to name but a few. The refugees had to create a life from nothing here. They cleared an area in the jungle for their colony, planted food, and began building a life. Each family was given a small plot of land and the families helped each other to build homes. Helene was baptized into the Mennonite faith shortly after arriving. On his way back to the village after a very difficult day of work, Helene's brother tragically died of a heart attack, while swimming in the river to cool off on his way home. This left their family of women to fend for themselves. Helene met her husband Franz (the boy next door), and they fell in love and were married on October 11, 1952. 9 months later almost to the day on July 15. 1953 their son Frank was born. In 1958 the family had the opportunity to immigrate to Winnipeg, Canada. They joined Franz's family in a 2-bedroom apartment in the North End above Obie's steam bath on McGregor St. and Franz quickly found work.
In 1960 after the birth of their daughter Karen on March 20th, they moved into the second-floor suite of the Kroeger family home. Helene and Agnes Kroeger soon became best friends, which they remained for the rest of Helene's life. In 1965 Franz and Helene purchased their first home, 5 doors down Home street from the Kroegers. Daughter Julie was born November 14th, 1965, and in 1967 their family was complete when Dianna was born on February 3rd. Helene attended church at Sargent Mennonite, and was a quiet, committed Christian, raising her family in the Mennonite faith and traditions. Helene was an excellent cook and baker. She was well known in the neighborhood for her delicious food, and many of her children's friends loved to come over for her homemade buns and pastries and her delicious soups and dinners. She welcomed them all and made everyone feel comfortable and a part of the family. She was especially famous among family and friends for her Napoleon torte, and her Sauerkraut and dumplings (Vechlasch). Helene was an accomplished seamstress, sewing, altering and mending many of her children's clothes, later on passing her skills on to her daughters. She always had a garden in her small back yard, always managing to grow beautiful tomatoes and carrots every year. She loved to entertain as well, and many weekend evenings the home was filled with polka or mariachi music, as she and Franz danced the night away down in the rec room with their friends. As her children grew older, Helene, began to work outside the home as a housekeeper. She was in high demand, working for the likes of the Asper family and always did her work meticulously and to such a high standard, there was never a complaint. Helene taught all her children the values and rewards of hard work, a lesson which has served them well in their lives.
Helene loved to camp and fish. There were years of happy family camping weekends and fishing trips to Nutimik Lake in the Whiteshell. The Teichroeb, Dyck, Kroeger and Vogt families were more often than not camped in neighboring spots. Camp suppers were followed by a walk to the store for ice cream, evenings were spent surrounding a campfire and eating knackzote (sunflower seeds) and roasting hot dogs.
Eventually Helene and Franz purchased. "Pancho's Rancho" on Steep Rock road. Humble at first, and with Franz's family and their friends the Kroegers in cottages nearby, life was good. The cottage was added onto, and Helene and Franz enjoyed cottage life to the fullest. Summer days were spent out on the lake fishing, with frequent trips over Sturgeon falls and Helene collected many Master Anglers! Back at the cabin, after frying up or smoking their catch, they were never too tired to take Julie and Dianna waterskiing. In winter, ice fishing was their past time, and Franz and Helene were often seen heading out on their snowmobile or with their cross-country skis to check their lines for those tasty jack and pickerel. In 1986 their first granddaughter Laura was born, and soon after in 1989 Timothy. Sara (1990), Patrick (1993), Carson (1997), Noah (1999) and Nicolas (2003) followed. Now an Oma, Helene doted on her grandchildren, and loved to play with them, and make them delicious treats in the kitchen. When Franz's failing health forced them to sell first the cottage, and then the house on Home Street, Helene took it all in stride. They moved into the apartment on Edison in East Kildonan and in no time, she had organized a meal service with her sister Annie. They cooked up Mennonite dishes, and served them at cost to other apartment residents, always selling out and leaving people begging for more. When her sister's health failed, her friend Vera stepped in. Vera's kitchen was started and Helene and Vera cooked up a storm, making huge pots of Borscht and piles of rollkuchen, with Platz for dessert, for many of the apartment residents. Helene was delighted when the Kroegers also moved to Edison and she was able once again to be close to her best friend. Mornings were spent visiting with friends and meeting for communal enjoyment of hot steaming Gvampa's full of Yerba matte, a traditional Paraguayan tea which is prepared in a gourd and sipped with a silver straw called a bombelia. Of course, there was always fresh baking to enjoy it with. As Franz came to need more care than she could provide, he was moved first to Riverview, and then to Donwood Personal Care Home. Helene persevered, rarely missing a day of visiting him, taking 3 buses to make her way to Riverview, and later walking or busing to Donwood. She so appreciated the days she got a ride to Donwood from Cousin Irene on those cold winter mornings! She brought him homemade food each day and cared for him with love and devotion. Helene kept very busy when at home attending exercise classes and playing dominos. Franz passed away May 8th, 2016, and Helene moved to Concordia Village a few years later, in January of 2020. Helene loved living there, going for walks and sharing breakfast with Agnes each day. Covid hit, and Helene felt isolated, unable to share meals or even see her friends. Helene's family did their best to cheer her, with lots of phone calls, coming to chat with her outside her balcony and gathering outside with signs and notes of love for special occasions. Helene was always happiest when with family and looked forward to and enjoyed family gatherings and meals with her growing family. She was blessed with two great-grandchildren, Riel and Holly and she loved them dearly, always looking forward to their visits. She also enjoyed special times with niece Ingrid and great-niece Talia, who came for visits and to play games. Helene lived independently until she was diagnosed with late stage cancer only 2 short months before her passing. She spent her last days at Riverview Palliative care. She was very thankful to be there, often praising the care of the staff there. Her favorite things to do at Riverview were to spend time in the courtyard at the fish pond, visits with family and friends at the "fence", and playing Yahtzee, Mensch Argere dich Nicht and Domino's with her children as they came to visit each day. Helene was surrounded by love and her family until her passing on September 6th, in the early hours of the morning. Helene, Mum, Oma, Tante, Dear Friend. You were an inspiration to us all and a constant example of kindness, patience, love, and devotion.
Helene’s family wishes to thank Riverview Health Centre, Palliative Care for the culture of caring that all staff nurture and display. We are so grateful to all the staff there for supporting us in being with Mum in her final weeks. You were all truly a blessing.
Thank you to Frank Klassen for coming to minister to Helene in her final hours, and to all who called, prayed, visited at the fence, emailed, sent videos and cards, pictures and flowers, songs and scriptures. Helene felt truly loved and blessed.
For those who wish to make a contribution in Helene's name, we ask that you direct donations to Riverview Health Centre Foundation.
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Service Details

  • Service

    Monday, September 14th, 2020 | 11:00am
    When
    Monday, September 14th, 2020 11:00am
    Location
    Chapel Lawn Memorial Gardens Chapel
    Address
    Address Not Available
    Officiant
    Frank Klassen
  • Interment

    Location
    Chapel Lawn Memorial Gardens
    Address
    4000 Portage Avenue
    WINNIPEG, MB
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email

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Donations are being accepted for: RIVERVIEW HEALTH CENTRE FOUNDATION INC..
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