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Yarrow, British Columbia

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Biographies and Obituaries

MARTENS, Herbert

Martens, Herbert P. (1913-1961)

Herbert Peter Martens: businessman and churchman; born 24 December 1913, in Davlekanovo Mennonite Settlement, Ufa Region, Russia, to Petrus Jakob Martens and Aganetha (Dyck) Martens. He was the third of three children. His mother died of influenza when he was five and his father married Anna Thiessen. This union resulted in five more siblings. Herb married Frieda Martens, daughter of Wilhelm W. Martens and Katharine (Toews) Martens, on 12 October 1939 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Herb and Frieda had two children, Peggy and Allen. Herb died 29 June 1961 in Bonner's Ferry, Idaho, USA.

Herb's early education in Russia was provided by his parents and grandfather Jakob Martens at the Armenschule (school for impoverished children). This early training was cut short by the Russian Revolution, thereby ending his dream to become a medical doctor.

In 1926 the Martens family emigrated from the Soviet Union to Canada, settling in Grunthal, Manitoba. Here Herb was baptized in the local Mennonite Brethren church. In 1930 the family moved to Yarrow, British Columbia.

Upon arriving in Yarrow he received some English teaching and later was self-taught as he built his business together with David Martens. The garage, Martens' Motors, grew to become a General Motors dealership and a bulk oil distributor. As a result of Herb's honesty, friendly demeanor and respect for those who had incurred debts in his company, he was held in high regard in the community and area. Children of customers rarely left the garage without benefit of a treat from his cache of candies.

During a revival in 1955, in Yarrow, Herb repented and abruptly broke his dependence on alcohol, resulting in a profound peace within. With a restoration of faith came a passion to share this new found freedom and joy with everyone he met. Together with a friend, Peter Nightingale, they began the Inland Tract Mission, mailing tracts to people in small British Columbia interior towns. He loved traveling to these villages and making personal contacts, especially with people who had written to him.

As someone ahead of his time, Herb insisted on teaching his wife to drive. She became the first Mennonite woman in Yarrow to have a driver's license. Relaxation for Herb meant a camping trip with his family to Penticton, British Columbia in the summer, a visit to relatives in Seattle, Washington, or San Francisco, California or impromptu outings to nearby Harrison Hot Springs with his son and friends. Always, Herb's choices put relationship ahead of monetary gain.

In the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church, Herb was appreciated as head usher. Here he had a special friendship with handicapped people who found their way to his aisle for a hug or a handshake. He also served as a board member of Sharon Mennonite Collegiate. Given Herb’s concern for evangelism, he generously contributed towards the promotion and support of the West Coast Children's Mission, and for a time, served on the board of this organization.

The life of an affectionate, loving husband and father, a sensitive friend and a successful businessman all came to an abrupt end when Herb was killed on 29 June 1961 in an automobile accident while traveling to the annual Mennonite Brethren conference in Coaldale, Alberta with his pastor and mentor Peter Neufeldt, and Peter's son-in-law, Walter Sawatsky. He had invited numerous others to join them, enthusiastically anticipating participation in the conference.

The stories told by countless others to his wife and children since his death, distinguish Herb Martens as one defined by who he was, how he valued others and lived his life, not by what he achieved by societal standards.

Gameo Reference:

Hiebert, Peggy and Jim Martens. "Martens, Herbert P. (1913-1961)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. September 2011. Web. 9 Jan 2021.,_Herbert_P._(1913-1961)&oldid=115034

Chilliwack Progress, July 4, 1961

Area Mourns Triple Fatality 4,000 Attend Yarrow Funeral

Close to 4,000 people attended the massed funeral service on Sunday for Rev, Peter P. Neufeldt, Rev. Walter P. Sawatsky, and Herbert Peter Martens who died as the result of a car accident at Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

In lieu of flowers, donations were made for more than 140 Gideon Bibles. These will be placed by the society in memory of the three well-known and long-time residents of Yarrow.

Only close relatives followed the funeral cortege to the Yarrow cemetery where the interment took place.

Officiating ministers at the combined service in the Mennonite Brethren Church, Yarrow, were Rev. Aron Rempel; Rev. A.H. Wheeler [Wieler], Abbotsford; Rev. J.T. McNair, Chilliwack; Rev. P.R. Toews, Vancouver; Rev. D. Neuman, and missionary H. Brookes [Brucks] who served with Mr. Sawatsky in the Congo.

Mr. Sawatsky was ordained into the ministry a week prior to his death.

Rev. Peter P. Neufeldt was born in Russia on August 7, 1911, and had lived in Yarrow for 32 years where he was the leading minister of the Mennonite Brethren Church.

Pallbearers were N. Boschman, J.A. Martens, A. Martens, J. Reimer, P. Neufeldt, and R. Boschman.

Mr. Neufeldt is survived by his wife Helen, Central Road, Yarrow; two sons, Gerry [Jerry] at home; Harvey, Ontario; two daughters, Mrs. Abe (Elfrieda) Konrad and Mrs. Walter (Erma) [Irma] Sawatsky, Yarrow; four grandchildren; two brothers, Jacob and Henry Neufeldt.

Rev. Walter P. Sawatsky, was born in Mullingar, Sask., on December 26, 1930, but had lived in this district nearly all his life.

Pallbearers were Ervin Janzen, Bert Krause, Dave Loewen, Roland Sawatsky, Vic Neufeld, Jake Enns.

He is survived by his wife Erma [Irma], Central Road, Yarrow; two sons, Terry and Eddie at home; parents, Mr. and Mrs. Peter J. Sawatsky; two brothers, Roland and Victor; four sisters, Mrs. Ervin Janzen; Mrs. D. Loewen; Mrs. Bert Krause and Rita Sawatsky.

Herbert Peter Martens was born in Russia on December 24, 1913, and had lived in Yarrow for 32 years. He was the proprietor of Martens Motors, Yarrow.

Pallbearers were Walter Martens, John Martens, Ernie Neuman, Corny Langeman, David Martens and William Martens.

He is survived by his wife Frieda, 1013 Eckert Road, Yarrow; one son Allan, and a daughter Peggy, at home; father, Peter [Petrus] Martens, Yarrow; a brother, Jacob Martens, Yarrow; sister, Mrs. Corny Langeman, Vancouver; three half-sisters, Mrs. Ernie Neuman, Mrs. Art Bourne, Mrs. Bill Cornies; two half brothers, Walter and John Martens, Vancouver.

Garden Chapel Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.


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