Jacob Klassen

Jacob Klassen

Wednesday, September 21st, 1921 - Wednesday, December 9th, 2020
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Jacob J Klassen went to be with his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the early morning of December 9, 2020. As we are celebrating the birth of a child this Christmas, dad will be seeing Him face to face.
Jacob J Klassen was born September 21, 1921 in Petershagen , Molotschna, Ukraine to Jacob Klassen and Sara Martens. He was the oldest of 3 children. He was predeceased by his wife Anna Goosen in 2018.

The early years of dads life were very difficult. Socialism, sometimes known as communism, had just taken root in the Soviet Union. All possessions were in the hands of the socialist dictators and that included food. People rarely had enough to eat, clothing was worn out, freedom was nonexistent and laughter was rare. Dad told of numerous stories of their survival. One spring after an early snowfall his mother sent him for something to put into the boiling water. Dad went out, brushed away the snow, pulled up some of the green grass and gave it to his mother to put into their boiling water. Another time he found a granary full of wheat. He found a small hole between the boards, got a stick and poked out some grain. He had a handful when he noticed a rider on horseback coming towards him. He dropped the stick and ran into the forest nearby. He noticed the rider did not pursue him into the trees and dad considered the fellow a kind man for allowing him to take these few kernels of grain to eat.

When dad was 16 years old his father was taken from the family and placed into forced labour in a mine. He was never seen by the family again. In those days dad slept close to the entrance door of their home and he could always clearly remember the sound of the Soviet military tapping on the window pane of the door when they came to take his father away! The soldiers would not allow his father to say goodbye to the girls.

When the Germans moved eastward in the second world war the soviets compelled dad to take the village pigs eastward away from the oncoming Germans. After 7 days of herding the pigs eastward, dad and another fellow decided to forget about the pigs and go back to their family. When they arrived at the village the village was completely empty. He never saw his mother again. Just before dad left with the pigs, his mother told him not to forget to pray. Dad wanted to honour his mother by always remembering to pray and through that he developed a close and intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. In 1986 dad finally got reunited with his sisters for the first time when they were eventually allowed to come to Canada and they could catch up on each other's lives. Dad also had the privilege to travelling to Germany over twenty times to visit with his sisters .

When the Germans retreated westward from the Russians in the second world war, Dad was alone and part of a long horse drawn wagon train from Ukraine to Poland. The Germans of Ukraine considered Hitler a saviour from the oppression of Stalin's socialist government. When dad got to Poland he was conscripted into the German army. After a 2 month training program he was brought to the front in Italy to fight the Americans. He was stationed close to the leaning tower of Pisa. He said he never fired a live bullet at another human being. When his battalion surrendered to the Americans he took his gun apart and hid the different parts under different trees to ensure that his gun would never be used to shoot another human being.

The Americans found out he was born in the Soviet Union so they brought him over to the Soviets in Austria where he was held in a concentration camp. While in the concentration camp dad came to terms with his circumstances and realized he would be tortured, placed into a labour camp somewhere or simply shot. He was prepared for the inevitable prepared for those considered to be traitors, whatever that may be. Shortly thereafter Dad had a dream of his cousin reaching down into a deep and dark hole, lifting dad up into the sunshine. The dream was an inspiration to him so when he got the chance he escaped from the concentration camp and went into the mountains where he was taken in by an Austrian family for 3 years. This family provided him with food in return for his labour. He kept in touch with this family until his passing.

While in Austria he found out about MCC nearby. He went to visit the office and with their help was able to get in touch with a relative, Aaron Thiessen, who agreed to pay for dad's trip to Canada. On the ocean voyage dad was quite seasick and when he finally arrived in Montreal he was hungry. He got off the ship and saw a food vendor and as he could not speak the language he pointed to something and just shook his head. When the transaction was finalized he was in possession of a raisin pie, which he held like a sandwich and ate the whole thing. His first Canadian meal.

He ended up staying at the Thiessen home until he got a job in High Bluff, enabling him to repay Mr Thiessen for the trip to Canada. While staying with the Thiessen family his evening job was to take the leftovers of supper out to the pigs. Mrs Thiessen would put in the old cookies, baking and whatever she thought the pigs ought to have. As dad fed the pigs he could not believe what he was seeing. The pigs were eating better than he has eaten all his life! He was tempted to eat the food himself, especially the old cookies, but thought he should not steal the food from the pigs. So in amazement and with agonizing pain he kept feeding the pigs. One day he could no longer take it. After feeding the pigs he saw these wonderful cookies in the trough - he jumped into the trough - chased the pigs away and ate the cookies himself! He often wondered whether he should feel guilty or not about stealing food from the pigs!

In Canada he went to the local Mennonite Church where he met the love of his life, Anna Goosen. Interestingly she had a dream that she would marry a Jake from a far away land. So when dad wrote her a letter to ask if she would consider dating him for the purpose of marriage, she accepted and the rest is history. They were married for 67 years, had 5 children, 8 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

Dad and mom were lifelong deacons in the NK Mennonite Church. They were elected in 1967 and took their role as deacons very seriously! They made a point of visiting as many of the church members as possible every year, but special attention was given to anyone who lost a spouse, child or loved one. Their ministerial work included monthly mission choir services at Bethania and weekly visiting at Concordia Hospital for many years until they were in their late 80's.

Dad and mom had the gift of hospitality and encouragement. Long before 'skip the dishes' came along, dad was delivering fresh baked goods or a meal to a variety of people as they saw the need. Mom would prepare, dad would deliver. A friend quipped the other day that he remembers dad always having a friendly smile and a kind word. He always felt better leaving than coming after having this brief encounter with dad. If you wanted to know how dad was feeling it was always 'fine and dandy, sweet like candy'. Dad was also a very thankful person, believing he was living the 'dream'. He had God, his family, food, clothing, shelter and freedom! He had it all. Dad often said washing dishes was a pleasure because that meant you had something to eat. If any of his children needed a ride, he was dressed and waiting. If we needed anything that was within his ability to give, he would give! We could go on about the many annual vacations, sometimes with all 5 children in a Volkswagen bug. 2 in the very back, 3 in the back seat and dad and mom in the front, box of sandwiches and off we went.

Dad also enjoyed having fun. He was actually quite unpredictable. For example nobody would have thought he enjoyed acting at family reunions or church plays. He had a wonderful dry sense of humour, which could easily be missed if you weren't paying a little attention to what he was responding to.

Some of dad's favourite sayings and fond memories that we his children now cherish are:
• Be happy you are paying income taxes - it means you made money
• Dad always embraced our friends and all were welcome in our home. To his last days he always asked about them and their well being
• Dad was a person of prayer. Often he prayed so loud that no microphone was needed
• When leaving after visiting mom and dad, Dad would often say "I am looking back to see if you are looking back at me"
• Dad had incredible dedication! One winter there was a snow storm. Dad couldn't get the car out of the driveway and nothing was moving so he walked to work. Took the bus home at the end of the day when the roads had finally been cleared. Actually, dads dedication stood him in good stead when he got his job at Ogilvie where be worked until the oatmill burned down in 1989? or so. When dad started at Ogilvie his job was to clean wheat out the grain cars. He enjoyed his work, but after several months he went to the doctors because of persistent nose bleeds. The doctor advised dad he would have to find another job as the wheat dust from cleaning the cars was causing his nose to bleed. Reluctantly dad went to see the head miller and told him he had no choice but to quit and explained the circumstances. The head miller told him to come back the next day and dad was offered a job at the lab testing the wheat and flour despite his minimal education and limited english.

In their latter years, dad and mom lived with Rose and I for 5 1/2 years, after which they moved into Concordia Village. Dad lived in Concordia Village for another 5 1/2 years before going home for all eternity!

Dad had a way of charming people. Not sure whether he knew he was doing it or not, but people were always drawn to dad once they met him. They would often say 'what a sweet man!'
This charming nature was with dad to the last day. The Homecare team commented that " although I never met Jake, our staff spoke so highly of him and the health care aides so adored him they would do anything they could for him. He was so loved by all the workers".
We were told that his regular homecare workers actually requested not be moved when dad became palliative, as they considered it a privilege to care for dad right up until the end .

Erika and Linda did a wonderful job of taking care of dad for the last week of his life where either one of them was always by his side taking care of his every need. As a family, we are so grateful for the love and care that dad received to the end of his earthly journey.

A private graveside service will be held Saturday and a Zoom memorial service on Sunday December 13 at 1:00pm. Relatives and friends are welcome to join in.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Jake’s favourite charity MCC.

to join the ZOOM meeting (Funeral Service)

Meeting ID: 854 9143 2231
Passcode: 165484
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Service Details

  • Interment

    Saturday, December 12th, 2020 |
    Saturday, December 12th, 2020
    Scheonfelder Mennonite Church Cemetery
    Address Not Available
    Pigeon Lake, MB
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Private Condolence

Erika Marand

Posted at 04:24pm
Linda and family
My condolences on the death of your father. He lived an amazing life. I too remember that smile of his at NKMC. Now your Mom and Dad are smiling together!

Erika Marand

John A. Warkentin

Posted at 02:16pm
Condolences to the Klassen family. I remember your dad always having a smile on his face when meeting him and asking about the farm. Love Jackie & John Warkentin

Your friends from Austria

Posted at 07:00am
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
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Doris Lang

Posted at 06:54am
Dear Jacob, may you rest in peace with Anna,
your dear friends from Austria.
Thank you for our encounters.
Doris Lang & Brothers

Elizabeth (Liz) Gauthier

Posted at 02:10pm
Dear Erika & Family,
We are deeply sorry for your loss knowing how much your father will be missed. He was such a happy many, always lifting spirits wherever he walked, visited, with whomever he met along his journey, by his kindness and friendly smile. Our family understands the amazing resilience and bravery of those who survived those times in Europe and yet came to Canada to create loving and happy families, able to share their faith and joy, always ready to give - Jacob is such a beautiful soul. We didn't really know Jacob well and yet he touched our hearts and we grieve with you. May your good memories and your hope and faith sustain you until you meet again.
Liz & Dan Gauthier

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Donations are being accepted for: MENNONITE CENTRAL COMMITTEE CANADA.
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