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Yarrow, British Columbia

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Esther Epp Harder, Edwin Lenzmann, and Elmer Wiens

Biographies and Obituaries


Sawatsky, Walter (1930-1961)

Walter Sawatsky: teacher and missionary; born 26 December 1930 in Mullingar, Saskatchewan to Peter J. Sawatsky (22 March 1905–25 August 1962) and Maria (Harder) Sawatsky (20 April 1909–25 June 1942). He was the oldest child of two sons and one daughter. Following the death of his mother, his father married Mary Braun (1910–1980), a widow with two daughters, in 1943. A daughter and a son were born to this union. On 22 August 1954 Walter married Irma Neufeldt in the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church. Irma was the daughter of Peter P. Neufeldt (14 August 1911–29 June 1961) and Helena (Enns) Neufeldt (14 December 1911–18 April 1999). Walter and Irma had two sons: Terrance and Edwin. Walter died on 29 June 1961 in Bonners Ferry, Idaho and was buried in Yarrow on 2 July. On 25 July 1963 Irma married Siegfried "Fred" Epp; Fred and Irma had one daughter: Darlene.

In 1941 the Sawatsky family moved to Yarrow, British Columbia. Walter accepted Christ as his Saviour at an early age and was baptized and received into the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church on 12 September 1948. Upon completing high school in 1951, Walter spent a year at Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, Alberta. This was followed by a year of teacher training and two years of teaching in Prince George, British Columbia. For the next two years he studied at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas, where he earned an A.B. degree in 1957.

In July 1957 Walter and Irma embarked upon a missionary career in the Belgian Congo of Africa. Here they served as houseparents at the Ecole Belle Vue school for missionary children near Kajiji and were also involved in direct mission work as much as possible. Unrest within the newly created country necessitated their evacuation in 1960. During the year that followed, the family relocated to Fresno, California where Walter studied at the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in anticipation of a missionary assignment in Brazil.

On 25 June 1961 Walter Sawatsky, who was also a gifted singer, was ordained as a minister and a missionary in the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church. He considered this the high peak of his life and stated, "Like Missionary Carey has said, 'Let me burn out for Christ,' so let me burn out for my Lord." Four days later, en route to the Canadian Mennonite Brethren Conference in Coaldale, Alberta, Walter, his father-in-law Peter P. Neufeldt, and Herbert Martens, lost their lives in a traffic accident.

Gameo Reference:

Lenzmann, Ed. "Sawatsky, Walter (1930-1961)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2014. Web. 9 Jan 2021.,_Walter_(1930-1961)&oldid=121842

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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