John J Neufeld was born May 24, 1926 on a farm near Rush Lake, Saskatchewan and passed away peacefully on October 27, 2023 at the home of his daughter Kathy (and John) Priebe on a prairie acreage near Caronport, Saskatchewan.
John is predeceased by his parents John M. and Helena (Peters) Neufeld, his wife Kay (Giesbrecht), his wife Anne (Goertz), his siblings Mary, Helen, Kay, Nettie, Elma, Frieda, Henry and Lydia, and his grandchildren Edwin and Katie.
John leaves to mourn his 6 children Philip (Pat) Richard (Eva), Robert (Lois), Kathy (and John Priebe), Susan (and Gordon Kehler) and Carolyn (and Scot Peterson) 15 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren and a large extended family, many neighbours and countless friends.
John’s parents came to Canada from Russia in 1923 and settled on a farm a few miles north-east of Rush Lake, Saskatchewan. In his early years, he contracted diphtheria but survived and says he was saved by his mother’s excellent noodle soup. A one room school house and church were the education of the day. His first memory of church was attending a Christmas service in a little Mennonite Church a half mile from home.
The family eventually rented and then purchased a farm north of Herbert, Saskatchewan in 1935. Here he attended Coxley School, finishing his grade 8 at age 14. He then left school for a while. After several years of working on the family farm and pitching hay bundles on a threshing outfit at $4 per day, he returned to school to finished grades 11 and 12, graduating in 1947. John followed his parents’ Christian faith and joined the Herbert Mennonite Brethren church.
At age 22 John headed west to BC to find work. He stepped out of an employment line to help a worker who had dropped some lumber. The supervisor saw his willing attitude and hired him on the spot. That was the way he was--always helpful. He moved between Saskatchewan (in the summer) to help on the family farm and BC (in the winter) for other work. While in BC he attended the Vancouver MB Church and it was there that he met Kaethe Giesbrecht (Kay).
John and Kay were married in 1951 and returned to Saskatchewan to farm. They purchased the family farm starting with 2 quarters of land and the addition of the Piper pasture to start a beef herd. 6 children were born to them, 3 boys and 3 girls.
Over the years his family, relatives and their children visited the farm and kids would return for summers to help out on the farm. They learned to drive farm vehicles, combine and build tree houses. These times were highlights for many and John’s acceptance of any and all who visited made him well-loved. He was a lot of fun, and knew how to make something a memory. He stole breakfast raisins, played countless games of dominos, pretended to be a little mouse that talked, and became a tickle monster.
The church, and the local community were all important to John and provided opportunities for him to humbly serve and participate. He volunteered with Christian Service Brigade, was on church committees and church moderator for several years, on the Saskatchewan board of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) starting in 1960 (for 20 years/2 years as chairman), with the Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) board and participated in numerous clean-up operations when disasters hit in Canada or the US. He served on the Herbert Co-op Board starting in 1956 for 20 years.
Dad was invited by the Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governor to say an opening prayer at a banquet celebrating Saskatchewan’s Centennial.
Our parents loved traveling and visited Europe when a Swede joined the family by marriage, to Africa to visit children working on the continent and to Myrtle Beach and Barbados at the invitation of John’s only brother and family. He loved seeing Canada from East to West.
In 1989, it was discovered that his wife, Kay, had cancer. She passed away to her eternal home at age 63. It was a hard time and John healed through service. He did more MDS assignments down in the States.
Some years later he considered a second marriage. Why not Anne Goertz, a best friend of his first wife Kay, and a good friend of the family… They got engaged on their first date and that’s a good story! They were married in 1991 to the joy of all the children who loved Anne.
John and Anne retired from the farm and moved first to Swift Current and then to Saskatoon. In 2018 Anne was diagnosed with cancer and passed away after 27 years with John. Dad’s final move was to his daughter Kathy and John Priebe’s home near Caronport. He spent the last 4 years of his life walking the prairie where he always wanted to be. He passed away peacefully at home with family at his side.
Even as he waned, Dad kept up his good humour.
A few quotes from John as he knew he was on his final journey.
I’m not lucky, I’m blessed.
"Getting old ain’t for the faint hearted."
When starting to lose his memory he would say… “Well whose face is that? You look like a person I know!”
Looking at a picture of the farm he said… “Ya, we planted all those trees.”
Commenting on his life farming he said… “I was born on a farm and I’ll die on the farm.”
Dad touched our lives in countless ways with his Christ-centered life and his deepest desire was that the message of salvation through Christ Jesus be shared through every aspect of his life.
Farewell, dear dad. We look forward to joining you in heaven.
In lieu of flowers donations can be given to West Bank Bible Camp or the charity of your choice.
North of, Swift Current SK
1 (306) 773-6815