John Driedger (1940-2020)
John Driedger was born at home on the family farm in the summer of 1940, the oldest son to Peter and Helena Driedger. He died surrounded by family at his home in Carman in September, 2020.
John grew up on the farm in the Kronsgart School District near Winkler with his parents, three sisters and two brothers. His parents taught him a strong, honest work ethic. Farming has always been a part of his life, first with his Dad and then with his sweetheart. He loved farming and was innovative, finding many clever ways to complete the work himself.
John was needed to help at home at a young age and completed the eighth grade in a one room schoolhouse. He graduated from Elim Bible School in Altona, and throughtout his whole life had a fantastic memory for the Bible.
As a family, we loved to hear stories of how he learned to ride his Dad’s bike underbar, or the tradition when he was growing up of Christmas bowls filled with treats, or how he took his driver’s test in a truck with no signals. John had a keen sense of humour and always said that just before he was born he saw the doctor coming around the corner to deliver him.
John met Leona in 1964 and in the spring of 1966 they got married. They lived in Winkler for the first year of their marriage. That winter he took his one and only job outside of farming. They bought a farm in the Carman area and moved there in the spring of 1967.
John spent countless hours volunteering and donating to causes important to him. He was proud to have donated blood at Canadian Blood Services for the ninetieth time this past spring and had plans to get to at least a hundred.
He held many positions in the church, including Christian Service Brigade leader, Sunday School teacher, usher and as a deacon with Leona. He served with the Gideons for thirty five years, volunteered many years with Mennonite Central Committee and enjoyed driving his ’64 Massey Ferguson 35 in the annual Eden Foundation Tractor Trek, to name a few such commitments.
John loved to try new things, embark on new adventures and try new foods – the spicier the better! Some travel highlights include climbing the Tikal ruins in Guatemala, whitewater rafting in Alaska, exploring the Holy Land and hiking the Berkeley Hills in California. He had an amazing sense of balance and stood on the edge of many precipices, much to the chagrin of his girls.
John loved nature and took great care to preserve the land and grew bountiful crops and gardens. He was proud to help beautify God’s creation by keeping a lovely yard and was particular in its care.
John enjoyed meeting many new people, including through curling, which he started at age sixty. He loved to go camping, hiking, biking, ziplining and kayaking. He delighted in his various collections, and loving photography, took many unique photographs.
John and Leona moved to Carman eight years ago. It was difficult for him to leave the country, and although it was challenging to admit at first, he enjoyed living in town. He loved their new neighbourhood and was much appreciated by the children who took to his kind and playful nature.
John is survived by his beloved wife of fifty four years Leona, daughters Lorelee (Brian) and Janet (Keith), and grandson Benson. He loved his family and was very proud of them. Papa had a special bond with his grandson, who joined him on many an adventure.
He was a kind, thoughtful, gentle and humble man, generous with both his time and resources. John was a man of few words but when he spoke, people listened.
John had a strong faith which centered his life to the end. He lived life to the fullest, calling his time with cancer these last couple of months an “incredible journey.” John had peace. Over the summer, on a number of occasions, he reflected on his final adventure, saying, “my body isn’t healed, but my soul and spirit are.” He was lovingly cared for by—as he described Leona, Lori and Janet—“my three angels.” He was grounded by his faith in God, and in God’s faithfulness to him.