Mary (Marie) Thiessen

Mary (Marie) Thiessen died in the Cariboo Memorial Hospital on Dec. 20, 2007 at the age of 94.

She was born to David and Maria Penner (nee Neufeld) on May 15,1913 in the Ukraine and raised in Rovnapol, Siberia.

Because of the political situation the Penner family moved to the Ukraine and made arrangements to come to Canada in 1925.

The rest of her childhood was spent on a farm in Grassy Lake, Alberta. When Marie attended Coaldale Bible School for three years, she became acquainted with Henry Thiessen whom she married on June 16, 1935.

Henry and Marie raised six children while farming and teaching in various places in southern Alberta. Shortly after their 40th anniversary, Henry passed away in July 1975.

Marie lived in Lethbridge, Alberta; Morden, Manitoba; and Abbotsford, BC before moving to the Cariboo Lodge in Williams Lake in 2000.

Marie’s passion in life was her relationship with Jesus Christ and often spoke of her life in heaven following her death.

A close second was her love for her family.

For many years, the walls of her homes were filled with photo after photo of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

She prayed for each family member by name regularly.

Through most of her life, Marie was also well known for her cooking and baking. Mennonite dishes such as wareneki (perogies), roll kuchen (like a fried fritter), and home-baked buns and apple buns were some of her most requested specialties when family members came for a visit.

Marie enjoyed her last years in the Williams Lake Seniors’ Village assisted living unit. She enjoyed various activities – especially the Bible Studies, Herb’s Harmony (mostly gospel songs), and many musical presentations and parties.

Predeceased by her husband Henry, their daughter Laura Grace, parents, and four siblings, Marie is survived by sons Arni (Rosemarie) from Calgary, Willard (Betty) from Winnipeg, Henry Elmer (Shirley) from Williams Lake, Dave (Jan) from Griswold, Manitoba; Ernie (Debbie) from Calgary, and daughter Dolores (Harry Goerz) from Williams Lake, 27 grandchildren (25 with spouses), and 53 great-grandchildren.

She is also survived by siblings Freda Neumann (Alex), Willard Penner (Erika), Jake Penner (Edna), and William Penner (Grant).

In 1993, with the help of a relative, Marie published her memoirs. At the end of this book, she wrote, “How would I like to be remembered? It would make me very happy if my grandchildren would all remember that Grandma really loved them, and that they in turn, loved me too.”

Anyone who spent even a few minutes with Marie Thiessen felt loved by her and would have loved her too.

A public viewing and small memorial service for Marie was held at Cariboo Bethel Church on Dec. 28. A funeral will be held in Calgary on Feb. 8.

Marie Thiessen will be buried next to her husband, Henry, in Calgary. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to New Day Ministries at or write to: It’s a New Day, Box 2010, Winnipeg, MB R3C 3R3.

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