EULOGY FOR BEN THIESSEN
My grandfather Ben was born on August 15, 1929 in Grunthal, Manitoba, to Justina and Nikolai Thiessen, named after his Mom’s brother Bernhard. He passed away April 3rd, 2019 in Port Moody, BC, just a few months short of his 90th birthday. He was the widower of Marguerite Hazel (Weibe), married for 60 years before her passing.
He is survived by daughter Carolyn, daughter in law Brigitte, grandchildren Peggy and Cory, sisters Mary, Martha and Lydia and brothers Rudy and Jake. He is predeceased by his wife Marguerite, son Darrell, brother Nick and sisters Helen and Katherine.
Ben was in grade one before he learned that his name was actually Bernhard, having always been called Ben. At age 10 the family moved from Grunthal Manitoba to Coaldale Alberta, where he would grow up working on the family sugar beet farm.
He attended Bible School in Coaldale where he met his future bride and they married in December 1954 and moved to Grande Prairie Alberta. He had a very active and fruitful life in church work such as teaching Sunday school, Bible study leader, Youth group leader, helping to establish the summer camp program and he supervised the construction of 2 church buildings.
Over the years he built 3 houses in and around Grande Prairie with help from his son Darrell. He was an avid skier and was a leader in setting up the Grande Prairie ski club, where he and his family could be found much of the winter.
He worked in various jobs before starting at the plywood factory in Grande Prairie, Canadian Forest Industries where he worked his way up to General Manager. He was transferred to BC in 1978 to take on the General manager role at CanFor in New Westminster. All his life he had a love of working with wood, the results of which you will see around his home and the homes of many others. He built furniture for his own home, for those of his children, and neighbours. He loved doing lathe work and crafting bowls and vases from rare woods. He learned picture framing so that he could frame Grandma’s paintings. The last few years he spent many hours chip carving, which we all loved to benefit from as well.
Ben and Marg loved to camp, starting off with a simple tarp, graduating to heavy canvass tents, tent trailer, a small travel trailer, camper van and finally an official motor home. He spent much of his summers exploring and camping, with trips to Hawaii and a canoe trip with his son Darrell around the Bowron lakes. After retirement, Ben and Marg made many extensive trips including a 6 week tour of Alaska with their good friends the Thomsons’.
Grandma had always wanted to go on a cruise, however Grandpa felt that cruises were for old foggies that only played shuffle board. Grandma finally convinced him to give it a try, and naturally, Grandpa came home with a shuffleboard championship trophy, along with a new way to love travelling and exploring.
He spent countless hours sitting through recitals and concerts, supporting his kids love for music. He loved spending time with his grandchildren, helping Peggy learn horseback riding which she is devoted to, to this day and attending all of my various sporting events. From elementary volleyball in tiny gyms to high school football games in the pouring rain, he was my greatest fan. He was an extremely dedicated and supportive husband, spending the last few years of Grandma’s life being her main caregiver, devoting all of his time and energy to her needs.
In 2012, our family was blessed to have Amanda join the family. She spent 7 years being a loving caregiver and friend to both of my grandparents, she was the apprentice jack-of-all trades supporting Grandpa in all his various hobbies and repairs. It gave us all great comfort knowing that there was always someone looking after them when we couldn’t. We are also tremendously grateful to all of their neighbours that looked out for them, especially Manuel and Rose, as well as his extended church family that always made sure he was well fed and cared for.
My grandpa has always been, and will continue to be a great inspiration to me in my life. I have always had a great admiration for the care and respect he showed to others, a greater admiration for being the most loving and caring husband, father and grandfather, and tremendous respect for his resilience in continuing to do, and be all of these things while battling life altering illnesses without ever seeming discouraged. He always found new ways to continue to enjoy the things he cared about and never allowed his own pain to stop him from helping anyone, whenever it was needed. Even when you could tell he was in pain, he never stopped smiling, and would still focus on lifting the spirits of those around him.
He will be remembered for his soft caring personality, his unwavering faith in God, his love of life, and for living his life with integrity, generosity and positivity. He was a tremendous witness for God, supporting, teaching and nurturing many that crossed his path.
His passing has left a hole in our lives, and he will be forever loved and missed. While we mourn, we are grateful that he is now free to walk, and run without his braces, free of his pain, able to breathe without laboring, reunited with his family.