It is with deep sadness that we say farewell to our loving mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, sister and friend, Maria Giesbrecht (nee Kehler). Following a period of declining health, Maria passed away on December 5, 2020 at West Park Manor PCH in Winnipeg at the age of 93 years.
Maria was born June 20, 1927 on the family farm near Randolph (Chortitz), Manitoba, the first-born daughter of David S. Kehler and Helena Stoesz Kehler. She was predeceased by her parents, her husband Isaac Giesbrecht (2010), six brothers and one sister.
Remaining to cherish her memory are her children and their families:
Douglas (Amy) Giesbrecht, Mercedes Douglas
Rhonda (Neil) Thiessen, Jonathan and Susan Thiessen
George (Valerie) Giesbrecht, Geoffrey Giesbrecht
Gregory (Sandra) Giesbrecht, Kortney Brookes (Kaleb, Sirus) Tasis Brookes (Faith).
Kimberley and Roland Brakop
Also mourning her passing are her brother Stan (Martha)Kehler, sister Helen Hildebrandt and brother Ben (Martha) Kehler, sisters-in-law Helen (Edgar) Kehler, Susie (Henry Kehler) Reimer, Eva (Peter Kehler) (Neil) Peters, brother-in-law Garnet Reimer and sister-in-law Helen (Abe) Giesbrecht. She is lovingly remembered by her many nieces and nephews in whom she took great interest and pride as “an awesome aunt, beautiful inside and out.”
Maria grew up on the farm where she lived with her 8 brothers and 2 sisters. As a young woman she and her friend went adventuring to work in southern Ontario. Upon her return she was employed at Pete’s Inn in Steinbach where she met her future husband, Isaac. They were married October 2, 1949. Maria was a busy and dedicated mother to her four children who were born in the space of five and half years! Later she launched into a career for herself working in ladies fashion at The Bay. For this she was well suited as she took pride in her appearance, always dressed fashionably and looked amazing!
Maria was a great cook and baker. From her we learned that “food is love” from the many happy times she spent with her kids and grandkids in the kitchen baking and consuming her delicious creations that were always perfection! From Christmas goodies to buns and bread to cabbage borscht and dill pickles, we were loved!
Maria had many creative abilities. She loved to have a clean and tidy home that was decorated beautifully. She loved gardening, especially flowers and always had a beautiful display in her yard. Her talents were also expressed in sewing, knitting and most splendidly in the quilts she made. She was a skilled quilter and her quilts are works of art. Those lucky enough to have been gifted a quilt by Maria know they are “sleeping under a blanket of love”. Maria used her quilting talent in her many years of volunteering at Mennonite Central Committee where she worked on countless quilts that were sold to raise funds for overseas relief work. She also made many wonderful friends at MCC and Maria and her talents will be much missed there.
Maria loved being a grandma and she was an exceptional one! She poured her affections on her grandchildren with abandon and was liberal with the time she spent with them. She took great interest in their interests and talents. With Jonathan it was shopping trips to the mall, piano recitals, choir concerts and travels to B.C. She celebrated with him when he wed the love of his life, Susy in 2014 and welcomed her into her collection of grandchildren. With Mercedes it was trips to the barn to admire horseback riding skills, barrel racing, Christmas baking and a trip to Abu Dhabi! She loved the summertime visits with Geoffrey, trips to the beach and picnics and took every opportunity for a visit to B.C. to see him. Distance did not limit their relationship. In recent years she was blessed with step grandchildren Kortney and Tasis and consequently, great grandchildren Kaleb, Sirus and Faith. FaceTime visits, lots of photos and videos brightened her days.
Maria loved to travel. She and Isaac enjoyed trips to Florida, California and B.C. Her trip of a lifetime was in 2013 when she travelled to Abu Dhabi with Rhonda and Mercedes to visit Doug and Amy. She embraced every experience and at 85 years of age rode a camel, went dune bashing, admired the Grand Mosque and the exceptional architecture of the city. Mom loved nature and the outdoors, picnicking and hiking in Bird’s Hill Park, Whiteshell Park, Spruce Woods and annual trips to Clear Lake where no evening was complete without an ice cream cone and, with good luck, a chance meeting with brother Stan and his family.
Maria and Isaac resided for 48 years at 27 Buttonwood Bay where they raised their children, and many happy memories were made. In 2008 they moved to Lindenlake Terrace and enjoyed a more relaxed retirement in condo living. In 2017 Maria moved to Lindenwood Terrace Assisted Living where she made many good friends who will miss her gentle presence. She will also be missed by her many friends that blessed her life in the 55 plus group at Grant Memorial Church where she attended for over 30 years.
Maria was a woman of deep faith and was an example of this in the loving way she treated those around her. She was a beautiful and gentle spirit, warm, kind, compassionate and positive. She was young at heart which allowed her to step seamlessly across any generation gap and into your world. She enjoyed friendships with young and old, she loved people.
As a family, our forever sadness will be that we were unable to be with her in her final weeks and days to comfort and love her the way she loved us. A memorial and celebration of Maria’s life will be held in 2021 when it is safe for her sons and families to travel to Manitoba.
From the Bible, we take comfort:
“Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is when we die and leave this earthly body) we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself.” 2 Corinthians 5:1
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it keeps no records of wrongs….It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” I Corinthians 13:4, 5, & 7
What we keep in memory is ours forever.