In Memory of




Obituary for John Ephraim Thiessen

John Thiessen Obituary

It is with sadness that we announce the death on December 6, 2023, of John Ephraim Thiessen, much loved father, grandfather and great-grandfather at the great age of 101 years.

John was predeceased by his beloved wife of 60 years, Marie, his parents, Henry and Helen, and siblings Henry, Abe, Sarah, Frank, Art, Rudy and Laura. He is survived by siblings Bill, Herb and Anne. He will be remembered and greatly missed by his children, Lawrence (Faye), Sharon, Neil (Rhonda), Lorna (Harv), Marilyn (Lloyd) and Roger (Wanda), his grandchildren Carlee (Floyd), Jeffrey (Kirsty), Donna, Jared (Amber), Angela (Kent), Jordan (Shannon), Amy, Jonathan (Susy), Tara, Rachel, Alana (Mike), Alexander (Diahanna), Kayla and Chelsey and great grandchildren, Taylor, Sydney, Parker, Auston, Colton, Rebekah, Brooklyn, Kathryn, Jesse, Wyatt, Ella, Rosalind and Katie.

John was born on a farm near Herbert, Saskatchewan on March 31, 1922 however, farming was not his life path. He accepted the Lord as a teen and from this young age, his passion lay with serving others both in his personal and professional life. He saw the need to support others in their faith and as a pastor, he established churches in North Battleford SK, Fort Nelson BC and Selkirk MB. John supported others in church planting in small, rural communities as Manitoba Director of One Hope (formerly Canadian Sunday School Mission) and was active in their summer camp program. John’s passion for people extended to those in remote locations across Canada’s north. He served as General Director of Northern Canada Evangelical Mission travelling to many communities to support the ministry to Canada’s Indigenous Peoples which included a television program, Tribal Trails. When John was 80 years old, he fulfilled a dream to spend time in a small village in Nigeria that he and his church had been supporting for many years. Many of his experiences are documented in his autobiography What’s Next, Papa? (title taken from the text of Romans 8:15 in “The Message”). John explains the reasons for the title of his memoir:

“First it means that I can have a warm, intimate, familial relationship with God the Father. Secondly, when you walk with God, which I have done, it is not a drab, hum-drum existence!”

John’s love and compassion for others was active and was demonstrated in the way he lived his life and treated people.

John appreciated and loved the out of doors. He saw God in the beauty of His creation. His outdoor pursuits included long walks and hikes, camping and campfires, tennis and golf. He shot a hole-in-one at age 80 years at Windsor Park Golf Course and his final game was played at age 99 years. A golfing highlight was his annual golf retreat with his brothers (The Magnificent Seven) all of whom, at one point, were in their nineties! He was always up for a new challenge and kayaked, tried cross country skiing and cycling in his senior years! In spite of being born in the horse and buggy days, John kept up with the times. He embraced technology using a computer, iPhone and iPad and appreciated how these devices enhanced his life allowing him to stay connected to family and friends. It also allowed him to listen to the Bible and to church services when isolated by the COVID pandemic and when his eyesight and hearing were failing.

John also loved to travel. His professional life took him coast to coast to coast in Canada and included flights to many remote, northern locations. John and Marie did a Tour of Asia visiting many countries including Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Hawaii. In retirement, they purchased a fifth wheel trailer and spent 5 wonderful winters in Arizona – John loved the heat! He played tennis and golf while Marie bartered her handicrafts with the Mexican merchants across the border (to finance their travels)! Another travel highlight was a trip to the Holy Land at age 86.

Anyone who knew John appreciated his great sense of humour. Being with him always brought laughter and he was often the butt of his own jokes, naming himself the “Chairman of the Bored” when living in the Personal Care Home. John valued and nurtured his relationships with his family especially his grandchildren and great grandchildren. When they were young, he entered their world of play and loved to get them giggling including making zany faces with them. He was a great listener, was always interested in what was going on in their lives and remembered the details.

John put other people first. He was not focused on material things, a man ahead of his time. He lived the message of love embodied in his Faith – “Love your neighbour as yourself”.

Those who knew and loved you will always miss you and remember the message of your life.

A celebration of his life will be held on January 19, 2024, at 11:00 a.m. at Rowandale Baptist Church, 162 Rowandale Ave., Winnipeg. In lieu of flowers, John requested donations be made to Northern Canada Evangelical Mission (Tribal Trails TV).