Mary B. Barkman
November 19, 1930 – December 18, 2017
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our mother, Mary B. Barkman, at the age of 87, on Monday, December 18, 2017, at the Deer Lodge Centre in Winnipeg. She is survived by her four children – daughters Audrey Barkman Hill (and husband John), Mavis Reimer (and husband Garth), Gwendolyn Friedrich (and husband Robert); and son Grant Barkman (and wife Heather); thirteen grandchildren – Carla Barkman, Tanya Marquardt, Maria Reimer, Monica Andreas, Andrew Reimer, Bill Friedrich, Angela Sperling, James Friedrich, Jon Hill, Carlton Reimer, Joe Friedrich, Eric Barkman, and Sarah Barkman (and their partners); and ten great-grandchildren – Caleb Milo, Justice Sperling, Cassidy Andreas, Jessica Andreas, Chancellor Sperling, Jule Milo, Trinity Sperling, Gracie Hill, Emily Friedrich, and Jacob Reimer; one sister, Caroline Loewen; and five brothers – Stan Penner (and wife Rose), Wesley Penner, Winston Penner (and wife Viola), Ken Penner (and wife Helen), and Leonard Penner (and wife Hettie). She was predeceased by her husband, John Kornelius Barkman; her parents David and Helena Penner; her sisters Anita Penner, Elnora Kroeker, and Evelyn Giesbrecht; and her brother Henry Penner.
Our mother was the third child in a family of eleven. She lived in Lorette, Manitoba in her early years and spoke fondly of the Catholic nuns who taught her in French during her first years of schooling. While she was still in elementary school, the family moved to Landmark where her parents farmed; in winters, the family moved to operate a logging camp at National Mills in northern Manitoba. Mom was committed to education and to the pursuit of knowledge. After completing high school in Steinbach, she trained at the Normal School in Winnipeg and taught at a one-room school house in rural Manitoba. In 1952, she and our father took what mother called a running jump into marriage. Our father was part-owner and manager of, first, Penner’s, then Kay’s, Road Construction Company, an occupation that took them into communities throughout the prairie provinces. Mom found adventure and enjoyment in learning about new people and new places. When her children grew to school age, Steinbach became home base. Mom leveraged our interest in reading by ordering books from the Provincial Extension Library, finally deciding that Steinbach needed a public library of its own. She was a founding member of the Friends of the Library group that eventually resulted in the building of the Jake Epp Library. As her children left home and moved into university studies, Mom decided also to continue her formal education. In 1993, she completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree at the University of Regina, taking classes in history, sociology, literature, and Greek.
Mother loved words. She not only loved to read, she also loved to write. During our formative years in Steinbach, she wrote features for the Carillon News, eventually becoming associate editor. In Regina, she trained as an ESL instructor and worked with new Canadians who were learning to speak English. She kept journals, wrote poetry and short stories, and belonged to Writers Guilds both in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Family and faith were at the centre of her life. Along with our father, she encouraged and supported many faith-based enterprises, including their home churches, the Mennonite Central Committee, World Vision, Missionary Aviation, Ambassadors for Christ, The Caring Place, and Eastview Community Church’s 188 Mission. Mom found it very difficult to deal with our father’s death in 2003; characteristically, she slowly and carefully hammered out a philosophical and spiritual understanding that gave her a strong foundation on which to stand. Central to that understanding was the belief that God is never far from any one of us and that “in Him we live and move and have our being.” That is how we see her now – reunited with our father and experiencing a joy and fullness of life that is, for us, as yet, beyond our understanding.
A funeral service was held at the Regina Funeral Home, 4001 East Victoria Avenue, in Regina, Saskatchewan, on Friday, December 22, 2017. A memorial service celebrating our mother’s life will take place on Friday, December 29, 2017, at 1 p.m. at Eastview Community Church, 3500 De Vries Avenue, East St. Paul, Manitoba.
Family and friends are invited to sign a book of condolences at www.glenlawn.ca.