Obituary of Gladys Penner
Gladys Reimer Penner was the youngest of seven children of Henry L. and Susana Toews Reimer, born on January 2, 1938. She, like her siblings before her, was born in the house built by her grandfather who pioneered at Swalwell, Alberta. There she grew to womanhood, always under the influence of a Christian home and Christian church.
Principles learned there stuck with her for a lifetime. In childhood she learned to be hospitable, to sew, to be respectful, to be clean and neat. Her parents taught her a sense of humour, and compassion. She shared a room with her Grandma Toews. Academic skills were learned at Linden School.
Gladys responded to the Lord’s call in December of 1950. Revival meetings were being conducted at Swalwell, she realized her lost condition and accepted Christ as her Saviour. She was baptized Dec. 17, 1950, becoming a member of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite. She loved her church home and remained a lifelong member.
She trained as Certified Nursing Aide, and enjoyed her work. She worked at General Hospital in Calgary and at Linden Nursing Home. A few friendships made then lasted a lifetime.
She volunteered to work at the Sunchild Mission children’s home, near Rocky Mountain House, AB. That is where we met, when I came to teach there. We were married on June 30, 1963. Our happy union lasted over 58 years.
Our goal was to have a Christian home which would glorify God. We therefore remained at the mission. Those teaching years among the Cree and Chippewa people were a highlight for us and led to lifelong friendships.
When we moved to Kleefeld, Manitoba in 1966, we became part of a congregation. Children were born to us. Often we used the large family Bible for devotions; its colourful ancient paintings amplified the Bible stories from Mother’s lips. She played with our children. “You have to take time for them!” she said.
In 1975, leaving family and friends in Manitoba, we moved to a farm in Stettler, Alberta. She didn’t mind it, because she was now closer to her family. We loved working, often together or with our children, on the land and in the hatching-egg barn.
In the storms and victories of life, we held on to each other and to God. Gladys’s stable nature helped me survive and to land right side up. We both experienced spiritual growth.
How we rejoiced to see our children develop. They grew, were born again, and allowed Christ to mold their lives into Christian ways. She loved them through thick and thin.
In retirement, her hospitality continued, together with delicious cooking and beautiful china, She always had gorgeous flower pots and loved nothing better than a game of scrabble, usually winning. Interesting little comments endeared her to her grandchildren. They relished the tea parties, treasure hunts, and listening to her stories, and always candy.
Another high point in our lives was a three-year teaching stint in Quebec in a small congregational English Christian school. Thank you to all who opened their arms of love to us. We left a huge piece of our hearts there.
On September 1, Gladys was diagnosed with acute leukemia. She had little pain, but always she was so, so tired. Her strength declined day by day, until her peaceful death, surrounded by family, on November 28, 2021. She said she did not fear the future, but prayed that God would be with her when she crossed over. Her prayer was answered, and now “Death is Swallowed up in Victory.”
Those left behind are: Me, her loving husband Lloyd Penner; our children: Ray and Hazel (Justin and Danielle, Meghan and Tye Friesen, Casey and Kaitlyn, Caleb), Stettler, AB; Suzanne and Martin Toews (Shyanna), Heart Valley, AB; Rita and Tim Unruh (Ashton, Eddason, Gavin, Gabriella Gladys Dawn), Stettler, AB; Steve and Shandele (Shanay, Jackson, Tara, Thomas, Carson), Shefford, QC; four great-grandchildren; two brothers: Jacob and Edward; one sister-in-law Jean.
Those gone before were her parents, three brothers (one in infancy), two sisters, and three sisters-in-law.
Our sincere thanks to nurses and doctors at Central Alberta Cancer Centre and Stettler Hospital for compassion and care received. Thanks to all who helped ease her passing.