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HELENE JANZEN (published on June 23, 2009)

HELENE JANZEN Helene was born August 11, 1928 in Schoenwiese, Siberia to Jakob and Katharina Hamm. Her childhood memories of Siberia were recalled fondly. At age eight, the family moved to Jakob Hamm's birthplace, Neu-Schoensee, Sagradowka, Ukraine. When Nazi forces occupied the area in August 1941 the family returned to the safety of the Mennonite community enjoying peace during the initial winter. Helene's father was forced to return to painting in Kronau. Helene's older sister, Tina, had to find work on the land. Helene and her mother remained alone. In October of 1943, Helene, her father and ailing mother set out, fleeing westward. By God's grace they were reunited with Tina and, together again they resumed the trek at the Polish border where they camped for the winter. The horrors of wartime Europe drew ever nearer, and Helene's father was pressed into service. Then, in January of 1945, Helene, with her ailing mother and sister, were uprooted and again fled for their lives. Russian forces swept through in April of 1945 and soon started forced repatriation. Until spring of 1947 they evaded detention, finally slipping into the English Zone under fire and cover of darkness. From there, they established contact with Canadian relatives and were allowed to emigrate, landing in Canada on October 18, 1947 and arriving in Winnipeg on October 23, 1947. She supported her mother and sister by working as a domestic. Having briefly met Gerhard Janzen while in a refugee camp in Gronau, they met again in Winnipeg, and on September 25, 1948, they married. A modest home was established, and the first of three sons arrived in 1949. The work of raising children, housekeeping, caring for her mother, cooking and washing for boarders was always done enthusiastically. Her diligence, generosity and love of her family were undiminished despite the setbacks of recurrent illness. Helene's mother lived with them until 1967, when her father was finally allowed to leave Russia for Canada. Throughout her life, bonds with her sister and her mother remained steadfast until their passing. In 1974, when her husband Gerhard was reunited with his family, Helene established lasting friendships with Gerhard's siblings and was particularly grateful for the care and friendship of Katharina Janzen and her family. Sons George, Victor, and Paul married and each of their wives, Christiane, Marlene, and Elizabeth were cherished as her own. As the respective families grew the grandchildren Julia (Matthew), Andrea (Paul), Thomas (Bronagh), Rya (Al), Leah (Carlo), Nathan, Adam (Asha) and Benjamin were greeted with the deep genuine love that held her whole. Failing health resulted in frequent and often extended periods in hospital. The family's gratitude to staff at Concordia Hospital springs from care, which they so often provided. Failing health brought her to Donwood Manor in July of 2007 where she found comfort in a place where her husband Gerhard, her steady strong mainstay of devotion for 60 years, could care for her until the evening of Friday, June 19, 2009. Our family deeply appreciates the kindness and compassion of the caring staff at Donwood Manor. A memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 25, 2009 at Glen Eden Funeral Home, 4477 Main Street. If friends so desire, memorial donations may be made to the Concordia Foundation or Donwood Manor. Mom, we love you and we'll miss you. Your faithful prayers for us throughout your lifetime will sustain us always.

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