In Memory of Helmut Penner
First Baptist Church Halifax extends sincere sympathy to Gisela O’Brien and family in the loss of her father, Helmut Penner, of Winnipeg on 28 November 2013.
Penner, Helmut – Born in February, 1920 in Tiegenhof in the then-Free State of Danzig, Helmut Penner grew up in a Mennonite community and was baptized into the Mennonite faith. At 18 years if age, after his father’s untimely demise, he took over the management of the family general store. In 1939, though an unlikely candidate for war duty, he was pressed into military service, taking advantage of a 7-day leave to marry his beloved wife Lotte with whom he celebrated 60 years of marriage before she died of the ravages of Alzheimer’s in 2006. In 1943 he served time as prisoner-of-war in the United States and was released in 1946. A joyful reunion with his wife and his 3-year old daughter, whom he met for the first time, ensued. Through the auspices of the MCC, a major move to Canada in 1949 signaled the beginning of a new and happy life in a welcoming country, crowned by the birth of a son in 1952. Helmut Penner was a dedicated provider for his family and a loyal, longstanding employee of Winnipeg Transit, working for the City of Winnipeg for 36 years. He loved music, especially chamber music, and participated in the Manitoba Music Festival in the Solo Recorder Class for some 50 years. An avid fitness and sports enthusiast, he took up windsurfing at the family cottage at Lake Winnipeg near the age of 60, enjoying the benefits of regular walking and swimming. Helmut Penner was ever grateful for the sustaining presence and support given to him and his family by the Mennonite community in general and First Mennonite Church in particular. His contribution to the church’s ministry took the form of playing music for worship services. He had a strong faith. This, and his determination to live a good life, carried him through the uncertainties of his young adult years, the perils of war, and the anxieties of emigrating, leading to a rich and positive family experience from which his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren have benefited in large measure. Left to mourn his passing on 28 November, 2013 are his daughter Gisela O’Brien (Joe) and son Reinhard Penner (Christine) and grandchildren John O’Brien (Rosella Diliberto), Kyna Mason (Adrian) and Tim O’Brien (Dina) and Heidi Wiebe (Tyler), Victor Penner (Mercedes Muzychuk) and Kevin Penner (Jillian) as well as 11 great grandchildren: Kyran and Fabyano O’Brien, Elena and Scarlet Mason, Oliver and Clive O’Brien; Vienna and Elise Wiebe, Bella, Brody and Piper Penner.