my father’s life

As some of you will know, my father, Jacob Elias, passed away on November 12th.

Here is the brief biography I wrote, which was read at the funeral.  It does not capture a tenth of what I wanted it to … but I suppose it never would.

On Wednesday November 12th, 2008, at 4:13 pm in Boundary Trails Hospital, Jacob Elias of Winkler (formerly of Altona), aged 73, went home to heaven. He was predeceased by his wife Anna in 2006, and is survived by one son, five brothers, and four sisters.

Jacob was born October 27th, 1935 in Hochfeld, Manitoba. He grew up in Blumenfeld, working on the family farm and enjoying the company of his friends in trips to the Pembina Hills and horseback riding around the village. He was baptized upon the confession of his faith in the Blumenfeld Rhinelander church in 1959. In 1963 he went to Peace River, Alberta, with his brother Henry and two friends. He spent most summers there from then on, piloting the Peace River Ferry every summer from 1965 to 1969. The family moved to Winkler in 1968, and, not liking “town life”, he stayed winters with Henry and Mary in Blumenfeld for a while, enjoying the company of his little niece and happy to have a place to keep his horses. A long courtship with Anna Friesen of Rhinefeld paid off in 1972, when they were married in Winnipeg on April 6th. She had a school year to finish teaching in McBride, BC, so he stayed in Vanderhoof for a while, and then they moved to Drayton Valley where he worked for a local farmer. This was where their only son, Jason, was born, in October 1973. Shortly after that, they moved to Winnipeg for a few months, and then in 1974 to a quiet 15-acre farmyard near Altona where he lived for most of the rest of his life.

He enjoyed working with wood, creating objects both beautiful and useful, such as fine furniture, a cedar rowboat, a grandfather clock, and many smaller projects. One memorable project was the restoration of a turn-of-the-century cedar and canvas canoe. Spending time outdoors, cycling, canoeing in the nearby Buffalo Channel with Jason, and tending the yard (which was often referred to as “almost a park”) were other enjoyable pastimes. Later on he took great pleasure in developing his artistic abilities in the medium of photography.

These were not always easy years, and money was often tight. But his active faith, hard work, determination, and variety of skills meant that there was never a need that went unsupplied. He worked in local lumberyards for a while, then had a one-man insulation business for a year, then took a job at D. W. Friesens where he soon became a highly valued employee. He worked in the Fast Print division for a while, but when an opportunity arose to transfer to the maintenance department, he took it and from then on enjoyed the variety and ability to use his abilities in craftsmanship. His interest and skills in photography blossomed during this period, and he leaves behind a considerable body of fine landscape and nature work.

He was diagnosed with cancer in 1999, and retired from D. W. Friesens soon afterward. This was a severe trial, and one that never entirely left. But the family pursued a method of natural treatment that soon had the cancer at a standstill, and him feeling quite healthy. However, Anna also was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, and between that, an emergency surgery that he required, and the onset of Parkinson’s disease, his strength was slowly sapped. Anna passed away in 2006, and it seemed that much of his motivation passed on with her. Ever more conscious of his eternal future, his faith increased as his body faded, and he would spend hours a day deep in the Scriptures. Later that year he moved to Winkler with Jason, where he lived the rest of his life.

In late October 2008 he started rapidly getting weaker. On October 26th, the day before his birthday, he was taken to Boundary Trails Hospital. His condition was stable for a while, but on November 11th he rapidly took a turn for the worse, and at 4:13 pm on the 12th he faded out of this world and awoke to his glorious reward, having completed the course that was set before him. Faithful and steadfast, never wavering in his trust in the Lord, never questioning his duties, he touched many lives with blessing, and died with great honour. A quiet, cheerful man who lived for others, he led by example during his life, seldom offering advice but always worth emulating; and his example remains his greatest legacy.

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

The family would like to thank the staff at Boundary Trails Hospital, Dr. Mostert, and Dr. Welk, for their skilled and compassionate care during his last days. In addition, thanks go to Rev. Stan Krahn for the service, and to the songleaders, organists, ushers, and everyone else who made the service possible. Special thanks go the the ladies’ group for their willing hands, and to Wiebe Funeral Home for the arrangements.