Aganeta “Agnes” Willms was born November 8, 1919 in the village of Muntau, Ukraine — the third of four children born to Aron Friesen and his third wife, Elisabet. Sadly, Elisabet died when Agnes was three, and many of her siblings also passed away in her early years. Agnes was educated in Halbstadt until she moved in 1939 to work at a hospital in Muntau and train as a nurse. The war forced her from her home in 1943. The following year she worked at a field hospital in Mogilno, where on her rounds she caught the eye of her future husband, Jakob Willms, and they were married on January 4, 1945.
Unfortunately, their happiness was cut short as only weeks later war called him to the front. Her last contact was a simple note from him amidst battle in Russia. The following years would be full of turmoil and upheaval. Unbeknownst to Jakob, Agnes gave birth to her only child, Elvira, on November 2, 1945 while fleeing the Russians in Polish territory. Her beloved father, Aron, died in 1947. That year she said “she came to believe” in a faith in Jesus that would sustain and define her through out her life. Assuming Jakob had not survived, Agnes began the application process to go to Canada, sponsored by her uncle. On November 23, 1948 Agnes and Elvira left Germany to begin a new life in Canada.
Initially settling in Drake, SK with her uncle and family, Agnes worked on the farm until she found employment as a cook at the Herbert Hospital in 1949. No stranger to hard work, Agnes supported herself, her daughter, and her stepmother. Living on very little, she sustained the family through her garden and shifts at the hospital. Elvira married Willie Reimer in 1966 and they had two children – Lori (1967) and Shelly (1969). In August of 1974, Agnes faced tragedy again when Elvira was killed in an accident.
1984 arrived and Agnes said, “a miracle happened.” Through a series of events, she was reunited with Jakob after 39 years of separation. They remarried in Germany, then in 1986 began their lives together when he joined her in Herbert. The “newlyweds” appeared as though they had never been apart. Agnes & Jakob were spectacular gardeners and spent many hours nurturing the garden until his death in 2011. Agnes had many friends and her church became her family. When not in the garden, she crocheted, knitted, sewed, and of course, cooked. She had a special bond with her small family and was delighted to have lived long enough to know her great-grandchildren, who adored her.
Not a woman of many words, Agnes lived what she believed. Always welcoming, always generous, always kind — she was an inspiration to all who knew her. Just two weeks after her 100th birthday, the world lost this most magnificent woman and suddenly, 100 years does not seem long enough. Her legacy lives on in her grandchildren, Lori (Swift Current, SK), Shelly & Fritz (Eatonia, SK); and in her great-grandchildren, Max, Hannah, and Emma, who grieve her deeply.
The family extends deep gratitude to the nurses who were with her at the time of her passing. Thank you to Dr. Kassette and the wonderful staff at Prairie Wind Estates for the care she received during her time there, and to her church family, and the community of Herbert, whom she loved and cherished throughout her life.
The Funeral Service for Aganeta “Agnes” Willms was held on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 at 11:00 am from Living Faith Fellowship Church, Herbert, SK with Pastor Lincoln Vellacott officiating. “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” “In the Garden,” and “What a Day” were sung by the congregation, with Marilyn Vellacott serving as pianist. Scripture reading was given by Hannah Eckstein (great-granddaughter) who read Matthew 6:25-34. The eulogy was given by Shelly Eckstein (granddaughter). The ushers in the church were Randall Fast and Harry Friesen.
The Private Interment Service was held prior to the Funeral Service from the Herbert Cemetery, Herbert, SK with Fritz Eckstein, Max Eckstein, Willie Reimer, Ron Schultz, Don Andres, and Brent Hackney serving as Pallbearers.
In memory of Agnes Willms, donations made to Prairie Wind Estates in Herbert would be appreciated by the family.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Aganeta "Agnes" Willms, please visit our floral store.
Prairie Wind Estates
1329 Herbert Ave, Herbert SK S0H 2A0