Peter “the Bagman” Thiessen
Peter was born on April 29th, 1940 in the Mennonite village of Neuendorf, Ukraine to Aron Thiessen and Margaret (Dyck), a middle child, with older sister, Helen, and younger brother, Henry.
On Oct 13th, 1943, the family fled the Ukraine and communist capture and headed for Poland. They arrived in a refugee camp and stayed in Peking, Poland until 1944. Peter’s father, Aron, was taken by the German army and forced to enlist. Margaret, and her 3 kids, fled Poland for Germany ending up in a refugee town called Bremerhaven before being transported to South America. After 10 years of the family farming in Paraguay, in 1954, Margaret and her 3 kids were finally sponsored by relatives to come to a new land of opportunity, Winkler, Manitoba.
After 2 years in Winkler, the family made their way to Winnipeg. Peter began working as a manufacturer’s rep at Leaper Agencies. Peter was exceptional at getting to know people, and people genuinely enjoyed getting to know him.
In the mid-60s, Peter met the love of his life, Elsie Koch.
On November 8th, 1969, as he always proclaimed, Peter became ‘the luckiest man alive’ and married Elsie. After 49 years, there was still not a day that would go by that Peter would ask out loud: “How did I get so lucky to find such a good woman?!” The sight and sound of his dear wife would still light up his face and bring a twinkle to his baby blue eyes.
Peter was blessed with two children, who he was incredibly proud of, Jonathan (1973) and Jennifer (1977) who took every opportunity to spend time with him.
One of the most important decisions in Peter’s life was to purchase property on glorious Moonlight Bay at West Hawk Lake. Peter & Elsie spent as much time as possible at their cottage, entertaining friends and relatives, as often as they could.
In November 1982, Peter was reunited with the father he had not seen for 38 years and was thankfully able to spend 12 years with him before his passing.
In 1987, while now owning and running Leaper Agencies, Peter bought a small wholesale business called U.N. Luggage …“bagman Pete was on his feet!”
In 1997, Peter was diagnosed with a brain tumor and a surgery followed.
Peter’s brain tumor required a second surgery some years later and despite the surgeries and many treatments, Peter would never complain, just thank God that he was in Canada, surrounded by his loving family.
In spring of 2017, Peter was taken to Concordia Emergency with a very severe case of pneumonia, and the good doctors in the ICU were able to save his life, giving us one more year with this great guy.
Peter enjoyed a traditional family Christmas at his daughter’s home on December 16th and fell ill a few days later, gently passing away at Concordia Hospital on December 21, 2018.
He will be deeply missed by his darling wife, Elsie (nee Koch), son Jonathan Thiessen & wife Desiree Single, grandsons Ivo & Otto, daughter Jennifer Goreski & husband Mike, grandson Soren and granddaughter Lottie, sister Helen Fast (Walter), brother Henry Thiessen (Katy), brother in-law Irv Koch (Sandy), sister-in-law Ruth Skinner (Rick) and a whole bunch of nieces and nephews…Sandy & Randy Douglas, Garry & Susan Fast, Rod & Krista Thiessen, Debbie & Garth Styles, Brian & Jen Thiessen, Marcie Thiessen. Pam & Scott Wotherspoon, Kelly & Daryl Peters, Jody Koch & Albert Harper, Keely Koch, Kurt Koch, Kristine Skinner & Brad Hultman, and many great nieces and great nephews: Lukas, Thomas, Adrienne, Nathan, Carson, Everett, Caitlin, Madison, Peter, Anne, Signey, Gretta, Lane, Mackenzie, and Logan.
The above is the abridged version of a man who led an amazing life. He was friends with so many of us, an uncle to some of us, the Bagman to all of us, a brother to two of us, father to two of us, grandfather to four of us, father-in-law to two of us and a husband to Elsie. For the full story, we hope to see you at the service.
A celebration of his life will take place on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 at 2:00 pm at Douglas Mennonite Church, 1517 Rothesay Street.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Mennonite Central Committee, MCC Canada 134 Plaza Drive, Winnipeg, MB R3T 5K9 Canada who were such a key part in bringing the Thiessens to this country.
Our most sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Peter Thiessen 2018..