Peter Janzen, cherished husband of Margaret Janzen, slipped gently into divine, endless peace on March 14, 2023.
Besides Margaret, his wife of 71 years, he leaves to honor and celebrate his life their four children: Ernest (Rebecca) Janzen, Werner (Linda) Janzen, Henry (Sandra) Janzen, and Helen (Chris) Enns; 11 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. Peter was predeceased by his parents, his sister (Helene Wiebe), one grandchild (Richard Janzen), and innumerable friends and extended family members.
Peter was born in Osterwick, Ukraine to Peter and Helene (Neudorf) Janzen during the upheavals following the Russian Revolution. His father died just months before his birth, so Peter and sister Helene were raised by their widowed mother and extended family. Despite famines, collectivization, exile of family members, religious persecution, and other hardships, Peter had fond memories of his childhood: the lush gardens and orchards of his home village, swimming in the reservoir, working in the fields with horses, and, especially, the extravagant, persevering love of his mother and wider family. Through all the fears and deprivations of that period, Peter always knew that he was loved.
Though still a teen when World War II erupted, Peter was drawn progressively into its violence and was severely injured in a harrowing munition explosion, which claimed the lives of young friends. After convalescing in Germany, and later imprisonment as a prisoner of war, he found work as farm laborer in Bavaria, before eventually emigrating to Canada in 1948, eventually settling in Coaldale, Alberta.
Peter and Margaret were married in 1951, and began a lifelong partnership in raising a family, securing a vocation, and building a growing community. Peter initially worked in construction, first as common laborer, but eventually as carpenter, and was able to build three new houses, in succession, for his young family. In 1957, Peter realized a childhood dream with the purchase of a small, irrigated farm near Readymade. This farm became an abiding passion. Together, Peter and Margaret managed a wide assortment of crops (sugar beets, wheat, barley, alfalfa, clover, pasture), dairy cows, beef cattle, pigs (briefly), and honeybees. And it was here that they raised their children and eventually enjoyed hosting also their grandchildren. In 1991, Peter and Margaret retired to Coaldale where they spent another three decades in contented retirement together. Just months before he died, Peter mustered the strength for a beautiful autumn visit to his beloved land; this may have been the last time I see this farm, he said wistfully, upon leaving.
Peter had a restless, inquisitive spirit. Although equipped with only a brief formal education, he was fluent in German, Russian, Ukrainian, and (eventually) English. He read widely, and was invested in understanding underlying processes, whether in farm machines or in language or in beehives. Even in the last year of his life, he was still a formidable opponent in chess. His impulsive inquiry sometimes sparked impatience when others seemed more sluggish, but his relentless curiosity always remained a motivating example for his children and grandchildren.
Another driving force in Peter’s life was his faith. Though church attendance was forbidden in his childhood, he became a stalwart disciple of Christ and a long-serving member of the Coaldale Mennonite Church, where he participated vigorously in diverse ways: as youth leader, Sunday School teacher, German School teacher, deacon, choir member, choir conductor, and lay pastor. Together, Peter and Margaret spent countless hours tending to people in grief, loneliness, and other heartaches. And as his end neared, he held steadfastly to the assurance of a loving, merciful God.
We, as his family, remain forever grateful for the love our father and grandfather invested in us and for the wisdom and mentorship he offers us still through the memories he left us. His was a full life, richly lived, not always without flaws, but always motivated by compassion, faith, learning, and hope.
A Funeral Service will be held at 2:00 PM, on Saturday, March 25, 2023, at the COALDALE MENNONITE CHURCH, 2316 17th St, Coaldale, Alberta. To watch the service via livestream, please go to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSGqghuTZbgq4eRHhvEcPHA and select Peter's service.
A private family Interment will be held prior in the Coaldale Cemetery.