It is with heavy hearts that the family announces the passing of their beloved husband, father, grandfather, and brother, Gary Goertzen, age 68, on Thursday, November 19, 2020 at Health Sciences Centre.
Gary leaves to cherish his wife of 37 years, Margaret; children Terry (Melissa), Ed, Amanda (Mike), and Marcus; grandchildren Destinee, Nick, Myles, Jade, and Julie.
Gary will be deeply missed by his siblings; Darlene and Jake Reimer, Doris and Harry Toews, Tina and Andre Philippot, Jane Bedard, Laurie and Robert Taman, Lorne and Brigitte Goertzen. He will also be remembered with much love by his sisters and brothers in law; Attie and Jerry Horovatin, Janny and Rob Joyce, Marianna and Ed Kulscar, Grace Fast, Mark and Jackie Hoff. Also left with wonderful memories are many beloved nieces and nephews.
Gary was predeceased by his parents, Silas Frank Goertzen and Helena Sawatzky Goertzen, his nephew Barry Toews, his parents-in-law Peter and Fokeltje Hoff and his brother-in-law Reg Fast.
Gary was born July 29, 1952 in Melfort, SK, the fifth of seven children in the Goertzen family and the oldest son. The family moved to Steinbach in 1953, living on Grace Avenue until moving to a country property in Giroux in 1960. Gary loved living in the country and especially loved not being a ‘city slicker’ as a boy. Many adventures and fun were had in the country. And maybe some shenanigans too. A wandering pet dog, Roger’s Syrup lunch pails, exploring the creek, and adventurous flights from the hayloft were all happy parts of Gary’s childhood with his sisters and brother.
Gary married Margaret Hoff on November 4, 1983. Over the years they built a marriage of love, respect, and friendship, a beautiful example of what a strong marriage looks like. His ‘Em’ was special to him. Various projects, motorcycle trips, doing the everyday things of life together, and building a solid foundation for their family grew them into quite the team. He cherished Margaret and demonstrated his love through many thoughtful acts of service. He loved being a dad, his four kids were his heart and he prayed for them regularly. He enjoyed his time hunting with Terry and loved when he would drop in for coffee at the hangar. He was proud of Ed’s work stability and hard work ethic. He valued his connection to and many text conversations with Amanda, as well as their shared love of sunsets. He loved his relationship with Marcus, how they did life together and their deep friendship.
Gary worked for Valmont West Coast Engineering, staying on through multiple ownership changes. He enjoyed his work for forty years, right up until his passing. He started as a welder and became so much more than that. He was a manager, draftsman, purchaser, inside and outside sales, technical specifications, customer service, designer, fabricator, shipper, receiver, forklift operator, and jack of all trades. He enjoyed his work for the company and was extremely well-liked and respected in the industry. He was an innovative and creative problem solver. There are things he designed all over Winnipeg, almost too many to count. There are light poles, sign structures, benches, waste containers, decorative steel structures, and the Prairie Tall Grass sculpture on Regent just to name a few. Gary enjoyed and appreciated the relationships and connections that were made through his work.
These last 10 years he caught the ‘travel bug’ on a trip to PEI and Nova Scotia. Then he and Margaret were off on yearly road trip adventures together. Montana and Wyoming, Wisconsin, Alaska, Arizona and Utah, Newfoundland and then back to Alaska again. Gary loved nature, hiking, and photographing the natural treasures he found. These were key parts of these trips. He took incredible photographs of grizzly bears fishing, eagles flying, stunning sunsets, and much more. Inspired by his brothers-in-law Reg and Mark, he obtained his pilot license in 2001 and it became a passion of his. He also was the treasurer for the Steinbach Game and Fish and an usher at church, bringing relationships into Gary’s life that he valued deeply.
Most importantly, Gary loved Jesus. This was an evolving relationship, grown over time. A ‘Set Free Retreat’ in 2012 was deeply impactful and Jesus used this in his life to continue to transform him from the inside out. He grew into a man of prayer. He would wake early to spend time with Jesus in prayer and the Word. He prayed consistently for those he loved and the needs he saw around him. Gary’s faith caused him to live his normal life, every day, with purpose and intention.
We will remember Gary for his kind eyes often with a twinkle, his humility, the best hugs, acts of service, consistency of character, work ethic, a listening ear, coffee times at the hangar, and his heart for others. We loved him and he loved us. We will all miss him so much.
We would like to say thank you to the Health Sciences Centre MICU whose commitment and care in doing their best for Gary was incredible. Thanks to Dr. Mark Hoff for his support, gentle words, and friendship to Gary over the years. Thank you to Grace Fast for being available and a source of comfort. We are grateful for the prayer teams from Southland Church as well as dear friends that prayed for Gary, and for us, with endurance. We are thankful to the Goertzen and Hoff families who supported us, allowed us to share updates, and prayed for us every step of the way. And thanks to Charis Penner for all her help with preparing the funeral service. Thank you!
A private Celebration of Life will be held Friday, November 27, 2020 at 2 PM. The service will be LiveStreamed. Please see Crossings website for details.