On September 9, 1914, at 9 AM, Justina Isaac was born to Katherine (Friesen) Isaac and Jacob Isaac, near Kleefeld, Manitoba. With two older brothers, Joe and Henry, three younger brothers, Frank, Klaas and Herman, and a younger sister, Helen, she grew up on a mixed farm in a largely Mennonite community.
Mom worked hard as a gardener, cook, caretaker and housekeeper in a home where her mother was often ill. She loved school, but had to stop after the eighth grade to work at home. However, she and her siblings learned to love literature and reading.
Mom frequently helped out other families where there was illness or a new baby. At the age of 24, she convinced her father to hire her cousin as a maid, while she began to work as a nurse’s aide at Bethesda Hospital in Steinbach. This led to upgrading and RN training, with dreams of one day working in a mission. Her specialty was obstetrics.
At the age of 21, Mom had a profound spiritual awakening, where she committed her life to honesty and love. In this, Jesus was her intimate companion, and she treasured her relationship with him above all else. While other relationships changed or ended, this one sustained her through the hardships of life.
Despite her plans to nurse in the mission field, she changed her mind when Walter Braun asked her to share a new dream with him. They married on December 11, 1949 and moved to Sinclair, Manitoba, where they joined others in starting a new church community, built their home, and raised their family of one son and three daughters.
Mom and Dad transformed the bare prairie, nurturing hundreds of trees through their 52 years on their homestead. Mom loved the outdoors and gardening, especially her flower gardens. Some of her perennials came from her mother’s and grandmother’s gardens, and continue to give us joy in our own gardens.
Mom’s skill and knowledge of public health made her the “go-to” person in the community whenever there was a health emergency. She took on this role with confidence and enthusiasm. She resumed her nursing career at the Reston Hospital for a few years when the children grew older, supplementing the family’s finances.
Mom learned to quilt, crochet and knit from her aunties at an early age. She loved designing quilts, especially choosing and matching colours. Many quilts remain as a legacy to her artistry.
In 2002 Mom and Dad left their beloved farm behind and moved to the Village Oaks in Kleefeld, where they enjoyed old and new friendships for the next ten years. When Dad needed more care than Mom could provide, they moved into the Maplewood Manor in Steinbach. After Dad’s passing in 2013, Mom stayed on at the Manor, now able to relax, read, and develop more personal relationships. In her last years, her hearing and vision slowly diminished, but her keen cognitive ability and curiosity continued to infuse her relationships with integrity and vitality.
Mom passed away peacefully on September 10, 2021 after bringing her family together to celebrate her 107th birthday.
Mom was predeceased by Walter and all of her siblings. She is lovingly remembered by her children: Dorothy and Bill, David and Ruth, Kathryn and Tom, and Phyllis and Jerry, 11 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren, as well as many nieces, nephews, and in-laws Leona Braun and Jac Thiessen.
Special thanks to the staff at the Maplewood Manor for their personal touch and attention to detail as they cared for Mom. Thanks also to Dr. Ilchyna, and to all the friends, nieces and nephews who brightened her days with visits, letters, phone calls and flowers.
Viewing will be held Sunday, September 12, 2021 from 7:00 pm – 9:00 p.m., at Birchwood Funeral Chapel, Steinbach, MB, with a devotional at 7:15 p.m. A livestream of the devotional will be available.
The funeral service will be held Monday, September 13, 2021 at 2:00 p.m., at the Church of God in Christ – Mennonite, Kleefeld, MB., with interment at the church cemetery.
Donations in memory of Justina may be made to the Mennonite Central Committee.