We Remember

EPP, Marie

— January 27, 2015

Epp – Marie nee Schmidt, age ninety-one, died peacefully on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. Her surviving two sons and three daughters were thankfully all present for the last week/s of her life, but sadly only a few of her thirteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. An avid letter-writer and sender-of-cards (including the annual birthday cheque), Marie delighted in being a modern grandmother when it came to the new technology of texts, Facebook, and photo-sharing. It let her communicate with her dispersed family: Shirley May (1947) nee Epp and Dale Whittles farm in Battleford, SK; Mary Ann (1948) nee Epp and David Roberts enjoy semi-rural Ephrata, PA, USA; Edward John (1950) Epp and Leanne Boschman now live in Vancouver, BC; Gordon James (1951) and Cheryl Epp make their home in Abbotsford, BC; while Linda Joy Epp (1956) embraces urban Toronto, ON.

Marie was pre-deceased by her parents, husband, four sisters, three brothers, and two grandchildren. On July 19, 1923, Marie was the youngest child born to Peter (1882-1945) and Helena nee Wiens Schmidt. Her mother, Helena, was born in south Russia to Molutchna colony emigrees Elizabeth (1849-1926, daughter of Benjamin Ratzlaff 1824-1901) and John Wiens (1872-1919). They first went to South Dakota, USA, but then moved to Waldheim, SA. Around 1875 Marie’s father’s mother Helena Richert (1851-1919) and father Cornelius Schmidt (1841-1919) made a similar journey. Always a lover of stories, Marie recalled that her grandfather Cornelius was robbed of his money. Still they made a go of it in Marion, SD, USA where Peter was born. In 1901 they paid ten dollars a quarter section and the C.H. Schmidt homestead listed on the Marion School District no.853 Langham, SK was one-hundred and sixty-acres.

Marie played guitar and mandolin and sang in church choirs. She had dogs on the farm, but never took them in the house. Growing up on the old homestead was her whole life. Marie often claimed to be an orphan, because her mother died when only eighteen, then her father three years later. She found the one year spent at the Mennonite-run Dalmeny Bible School “too close-minded and too-close-to-home.” So she was thrilled when her best friends Clara Kope from Waldheim, Josie Clark and Rosie Baerg actively recruited her to join them and attend the Alliance-run Canadian Bible College in Regina. This was her escape from the farm! In 1944 she also met her “soldier boy, John Epp, who swept her off her feet!” Soon after, he was sent overseas for active duty as a medic and a Conscientious Objector. They corresponded by mail until John proposed. For this he sent a special recording. They were married on October 6, 1946, on Sunday afternoon, at the Dalmeny Mennonite Brethren Church. Post-war there were several services during a weekend and there was a run on wedding dresses! Their trip to Saskatoon was fruitless, so Susie, bride to Marie’s favourite brother Henry, offered to lend her gown. John gave her a special locket, but they couldn’t afford a wedding ring.

Starting out, John expected to support his wife and children, but they quickly realized that was unrealistic. After a brief try at farming they decided they were city people and moved to Saskatoon. As the family grew, one baby at a time, they came up with different homes, vehicles, and work places. Like Avenues J and C, Porteous and Bader Crescents, at each place Marie and John crafted a new home, building rooms, porches, basements, and garages. All the children enjoyed playing in sawdust and sleeping in a tire. Until her varicose veins gave way she loved to play baseball with the kids too. While she frowned on playing cards, games were always part of the family life from Clue, to hockey rinks, crokinole, dominos, shuffleboard and darts. Indeed until the last few weeks of her life Marie loved to play Skip-Bo. She didn’t feel like she needed to win but it didn’t hurt. She loved to send the kids to the lake but was always cautious of water. Later, in life, she actually got the courage to take swimming lessons. But lost some of that nerve. She liked to walk and maintained exercise classes.

Marie has always been a hard worker and whenever the world wasn’t going her way, she would begin to clean. But the unruly mass of guests, borders, friends, children and relatives would chip away at her clean kitchen counters. She was a great cook, gardened, kept the freezer full, and could keep the troops happy especially with her home-made chicken noodle soup, varenikie, or just some simple green bean soup with cream and dill, nice bread and cheese. With a few exceptions, she made her children’s friends welcome. And as a grandmother later in life she didn’t play favourites. There was always someone extra invited to feed at the table. Marie had a great curiosity about life and what people were up to. She loved to feed and nurture, yet knew how to carve out her own time. Beyond this Marie loved to knit and sew. First, because it was prudent and necessary, then because it provided a challenge and finally (much later) it gave her joy to just sit with her local knitting group to knit patches for quilts for the homeless. While her stamina had faded for making large garments, other than baby outfits, one of her last concerns indeed had to do with a garment for a yet unborn child. She also took on outside work; a dietary aide (PT) for six years at the university hospital and then for sixteen years sorted mail for the Saskatoon post office. In her daughter Linda’s teen years she worked mostly nights. So this set down late night coffee and early morning breakfasts. Marie would sometimes meet her friends for breakfast before sleeping for a few hours in the day.

Both John and Mary had their commitment to the Mennonite Church and to voluntary service in general. As early retirees they both took on some short-term service positions with YWAM, and mother worked for years at the Mennonite Relief Store in Kelowna.

John and Marie were members of Mennonite Brethren Churches in Saskatoon and Willow Park Mennonite Brethren in Kelowna. They moved to Abbotsford in 2006, and John passed away in 2008. Marie became a member of the Bakerview Church in Abbotsford. People who visited only last week before she died said how very much they enjoyed her and that they always saw her out and about in the community. It is also true that as Marie could finally afford to buy herself clothes she may have taken this activity a little far. It was one “sin” among so much “saintliness.” It was refreshing at no matter what age, or due to some progressive handicap, like needing a cane or a scooter, Marie was in tune with design, fabric, colour and just really, really enjoyed dressing well. A favoured look was shades, fitted soft pink leather motorcycle jacket with a walker. She has been known to give great tips to the residents at Primrose Place, her last independent residence. Always active, and independent, she valued her ability to drive herself up until 2013. She then purchased a scooter just last year and her not-so-young children were getting blisters chasing her to Mill Lake either to see the ducks or as a path to the mall. Also, she loved coffee. Thank God! We shall miss you, Marie. With love.

On January 29, family and friends will gather at the Springfield Funeral Home, 2020 Springfield Road, Kelowna, at 12:30 for a visitation, followed by a burial service at 2:00. A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday January 31st, 2 pm at Bakerview Church, 2285 Clearbrook Road in Abbotsford. Donations in memory of Marie can be made to the Abbotsford Hospice Society www.abbotsfordhospice.org . The family greatly appreciates the tender care received by Marie at the Tertiary Palliative Care Unit at ARH!

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bakerview Church

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Abbotsford Hospice Society Link: www.abbotsfordhospice.org


Service Information

Service Details

The service for EPP, Marie is scheduled for Saturday, January 31, 2015. Below you will find the map for the service location and the contact information should you have any questions.

Address & Contact for Service Location:

Bakerview Church

2285 Clearbrook Rd, Abbotsford, BC


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  • Adrienne Kinchen says:

    My deepest sympathy ,to all the family ,may God be with you ,I will miss her too.

  • Adrienne Kinchen says:

    My deepest sympathy to all the family

  • Scott McKee says:

    Sorry for the loss of your dear mother. I will pray for her progress through all the worlds of God.

  • Su Bright says:

    Please accept my condolence sent on the loss of your Mom from this earthly realm. I will say prayers for the progress of her soul.

  • Norma Hoyle says:

    Dear Gordon,
    I’m so sorry to learn of the loss of your Mother and want to extend my sympathy. At such times, while we can be grateful for the recognition that for those passing on, death truly is a “Messenger of Joy”, yet it’s not always easy for those left behind to let go of the familiar and loved presence. Please know that I will pray for the progress of Marie’s soul.

  • Julia Jay says:

    Memory Eternal, you are all in my prayers
    Mike and Julia Jay

  • Margaret Lucas says:

    I was just informed by Alice Hopper that your beautiful mother had passed away. Please accept my deepest condolences. I cleaned for dear Marie since she moved to Menno and enjoyed my time working for her. She shall be missed by myself and my sisters who often came with me to clean. I am sorry I was able to come to the memorial service. God bless your family.

  • Irene Murphy says:

    Just read about your mom’s passing Shirley sorry to hear about it. My condolences to you and your whole family. Mothers really are very special, no matter how old they get.

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