It is with sadness that the family of Henry Gerard Postman announce his passing into the arms of Jesus, September 14, 2019 after a lengthy illness and hospitalization. He was 87 years old and resided at St. Michael’s Long Term Care facility.
Henry was born on a farm near Monarch in 1932, to Gerrit and Joanne Postman. He was the eldest of 3 children, brother Lewis, and sister, Nettie. He lived with his family in Lethbridge in a small bungalow, across from St. Michael’s Hospital. He attended LCI High School. Henry helped with the family farm and resided in a home in Nobleford which he and Lewis helped his father build in 1945. In 1950, they moved to the Gerrit Postman farmstead near Monarch.
After Henry married his youth group sweetheart, Alice Kooy, in 1952, they settled for a short time in Abbotsford, BC and moved to Southern Alberta. By 1962, their family had grown to 4 children and they moved to Three Hills, where Henry attended Bible School training at Prairie Bible College, attaining a religious studies diploma in 1963. Henry hoped to become a missionary in Mexico with his family, but those plans changed with health concerns due to diabetes. Instead, the family settled in Creston for a short time, where Henry did painting while Alice tended the children and worked as a nurse. Now with 5 children, the family soon moved to the farm near Monarch, where they would stay for most of their lives. In 1973, an addition to the farmhouse was completed to accommodate their 6 children. Grain farming along with raising some animals - cattle, pigs and chickens, with the side job of painting, kept Henry busy and active. Henry and Alice settled in nicely to farm life at the Postman farm which his parents, Gerrit and Joanne had established years earlier.
In his earlier years of farming, Henry supplied fresh milk and eggs to much of the community. Running a family farm always has its challenges - faith, patience and perseverance were required amidst poor and good years. One thing Henry always wanted was lots of trees on his farm. Henry and Alice finally got their dream in 1995 with the farm receiving its first irrigation rights to water from the canal. Many yearlings were planted that have now grown into beautiful rows of foliage. Henry and Alice also loved to plant a garden each year, producing excellent vegetables. Henry liked hard work, but enjoyed his time off and took the family on many summer vacations to the Okanagan, Vancouver Island, and neighbouring mountain campgrounds. At times there were trips to Lyndon, and Quincy, Washington to visit relatives. There were trips as far as Ontario to pick up a grain truck, then to Michigan to visit more family. In 1978, they braved a trip to Europe, with their two youngest daughters. There they visited more relatives, and took in lots of sightseeing. Henry enjoyed exuberantly playing the cathedral pipe organs of Luxembourg and Holland. They also took an overnight ferry trip over the English Channel to London. He said they felt royal, as the family stayed at the “St. James Hotel”, located near Buckingham Palace. Henry found the ancient architecture fascinating. He also enjoyed going to art museums. Henry even learned to wear good shoes, as we walked in the pouring rain at The Vatican in Italy. One of the soles of his daughter’s shoes came off … he told her, “at least you didn't lose your soul”! Even when life was hard, Henry was sure to have a good sense of humour. As they aged, and children moved out of the home, Henry and Alice traveled less, but still enjoyed trips to the Cascade Mountains, Alaska by Cruise ship, and another flight to Holland. They enjoyed yearly visits to Creston for fresh fruit from people they knew, and felt blessed to be able to pick fruit from trees nearby the home they used to live. In 1984, at the age of 52, and 54, Henry and Alice, embarked on a new venture of raising their first grandchild. At the time, his mother was unable to care for him, so they lovingly took him into their home. When their grandson finished high school and moved out of home, they finally became more “retired” at ages 70 and 72.
A significant part of Henry’s life was music. He volunteered many years in Nobleford as a church organist and pianist - and also in earlier years, at the Alliance Church in Lethbridge. He led choirs, at Lethbridge First CRC, Nobleford CRC and a community choir. He enjoyed the opportunity on 2 occasions to lead mass, 200 member choirs for Christmas and Easter performances. He would sometimes sing as a soloist, with his clear, tenor voice. Henry could “play by ear” and commented that the new psalter hymnal was “for the birds”, as he had to relearn to sight read music at the age of 65. Later, he started a community quartet group, called “The Noblefour”. Many were blessed by their gifts of song at a variety of local functions. He also taught his children the love of music and harmony. Whether it was barbershop choruses, or Gaither hymns around the piano, music was a large part of the Postman family. He even bought most of his children instruments when the Nobleford Community Band was developed. Their slogan was, “you buy it - we will teach you how to play it”. Henry’s love for music never faded, and even in his last days, he requested songs sung to him to lift his spirit.
Henry’s faith in God was also a central part of his life, as he and Alice endeavoured to build a home together, with an eye on eternity. At times he led bible studies at church and devotional times around the table with family. One time, Henry led a bible study and during his sharing he turned around to remove a large hair from his mouth, and stated, “I think that long hair must have been my aunt’s!” The whole adult class burst into laughter. Christianity and humour was important to Henry. He was especially good at teaching simple bible texts as he believed the bible was to be understood by even a child.
As Henry aged, his diabetes became more of a concern. He received treatments and often had weekly medical check ups. In his latter 70’s, he had some strange blood work results and it was thought he was getting cancer. Later, the test was repeated and it was normal. Henry didn’t take that lightly, and said that God had healed him, extending his life. Shortly after this, his wife became more weak, and they had to move off the farm to the city for the sake of her lung condition. Alice was then diagnosed with exacerbated pulmonary fibrosis. This, after many years of chronic bone pain from osteoarthritis, and numerous back surgeries and one hip surgery. Within 7 months, she passed away. Family and friends were all surprised, as Henry seemed to be the one with the greater health problems. They were both weak, and often said that they both felt broken, but held by the Lord. Alice often said, “Each day is a gift".
After the shock of his wife’s passing, Henry learned to have a “new lease on life”. He would say, “I will never stop grieving Alice’s loss”. It was very hard, but with God’s help and prayer, he was determined to persevere through his grief. At this time, he moved back to his farm, and taught himself to cook, clean, wash, dry, and even can fruit. All tasks that Alice had done, and Henry watched often. He was more the outdoor farmer, painter, cattleman, etcetera. So, he defied that, saying: “Now you can teach an old dog, new tricks”. He loved having family and friends visit. He even held a neighbourhood, BBQ on the farm. Henry still tried to do some farming, mainly driving the John Deere tractor doing small jobs around the yard of tilling, or driving his new lawn mowers. Despite his arthritis, at the age of 81 he still climbed up the old Massey Tractor to harrow some weeds. One time, he got caught in a fence pole, as his driving was a little more unsteady. He phoned family for help, and when they arrived they noted quite a predicament he got himself into. The family stated, the “Postman got caught around the Posthole”. With a little push and a whole lot of laughter, he got unstuck. Family had warned him to avoid climbing to his “doom”, as next time it may not be so “forgiving” - he may break something that isn’t just a wooden pole, but bone…
Shortly after acquiring kidney failure, Henry began years of dialysis, which also taught him perseverance. Henry still had friends and family drive him to his treatments, even after he had his driver’s license taken away. He was grateful he could still stay at the farm, with family to help. However, one summer day, Henry got out of the passenger side of his van and persisted to open a stubborn door, while his son was unloading some flower gifts. Out of excitement, Henry tried to get out of the vehicle and fell, twisting his hip, and breaking it. He was hospitalized for not only replacement hip surgery, but, acquired a bowel obstruction while being on food restrictions while awaiting his hip surgery. Henry could have died, as they found his bowel kinked quite badly. They repaired this and Henry survived a long surgery. The hospital stay was longer than usual, but Henry once again, persevered. However, this time after Rehab therapy, Henry, though determined to live at home, was transferred to Fort Macleod Lodge.
Then about six months later, Henry broke his other hip. Unable to walk, he eventually moved to St. Michaels Health Centre. While still getting tri-weekly, dialysis treatments for his dormant kidneys, Henry still managed his diabetes mainly by himself. He often told doctors and nurses, that he should manage his own diabetes, as they hadn’t had diabetes as long as he had, for 45 years. With Henry’s move to St. Michael’s, he asked that he only wanted to be there if they could teach him to walk again in the PARP department, while living in the long term care area. He was unhappy living there, and most wakeful days still hoped to move back to his farm. Henry didn’t give up his dream, and still asked a month or two before his death, to go to the PARP, rehabilitation department to learn to walk.
After 3 1/2 years, bedridden at St. Michael’s and with several bouts of pneumonia, Henry weakened, swallowing became harder, and he was sleeping more. Family rallied around him to help him to eat in his wakeful hours. Outings were less frequent, but even the day before he died, he looked forward to going to church. His son, Ken visited him the evening he passed away, noting that his dad was tired but talking about seeing his wife again in a great church. A while later, Henry asked the nurse for a pudding. Sometime within the next hour, staff found him peacefully lying in his bed, hands resting on each other on his waist. Family said their goodbyes, and Henry now eternally rests, in the arms of His Saviour and Lord. The Lover of His Soul took him home September 14 at around 10:00pm. He is at peace and in eternity. What more could we ask for?
Henry we will miss you, but we wouldn’t want you back as the suffering was too great, the waiting too long, and the loneliness too daunting, but you persevered to the end, and your faith sustained you. It is finished. Christ has won. You are with Him now, the author and finisher of your faith. Praise the Lord.
One thing we remember Henry for, was his love for botany. His casket will carry much colour and an array of flowers, in his remembrance.
God bless you forever….
Henry was predeceased by his wife, Alice Mary Postman, his parents, Gerrit and Joanne Postman, and his brother, Lewis Postman, and also by his parents-in-law, Peter and Jennie Kooy, brothers-in-law, Ralph Kooy, Albert Kooy, and Peter Kooy, and sister-in-law, Bertha Hofman.
He will be lovingly remembered by his sister, Nettie (Ron) Wilson, and sisters-in-law Jean Postman, and Johanna Konynenbelt, as well as by his children, Donna Postman, Gerald Postman (Wanda Murphy), Dan (Lorna) Postman, Ken Postman, Lynnette Postman (Ross Bryant), Heather (Paul Arthur) Kadach; and his grandchildren, Leon Postman, Ali, and Spencer Postman, Jon, David, and Melanie Postman, Karson, Kaycee, and Amylia Postman, Henry, Jennie and Niko Bryant, Bethany, Rebecca, Karen, Sharon, Grace, William, Heather Alice, Craig, Linden, Grayson, Pamela and Jonathan Kadach; and great-grandchildren, Madison, Kaiden, and Dawson Postman
The funeral at the Nobleford Christian Reformed Church Saturday, September 21, at 11:00 am.
Internment to follow at the Monarch/Nobleford Cemetery, Luncheon will be provided at the CRC Fellowship Hall.
Viewing open to public, Friday, September 20, 2019, at 7:00-9:00pm
The family of Henry Postman would like to extend their heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the staff at St. Michael’s Hospital, and Dialysis Dept. at the Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge, for their loving care of Henry, thank you.
In remembrance of Henry, donations may be made to Prairie Bible Institute, 350 5th Avenue East, Three Hills, Alberta T0M 2N0, or the Kidney Foundation of Canada, Suite 408, 740 4th Avenue South, Lethbridge, Alberta T1J 0N9.