Burton Penner was born on June 12, 1954 in Steinbach to Ben and Sara (nee Thiessen) Penner. About three months later his parents moved to the Ridgewood area where his Dad had bought a quarter section of crop land and bush.
As a toddler Burt had a hernia that was repaired just before his first birthday. His mother always said that after dealing with a lot of pain in his first year, Burt came out of that surgery, smiling and playful.
Sixty years later he continued to be an easy patient to take care of when hospitalized and often encouraged his caregivers by his good cheer and gratefulness.
Burton loved the farm life, breaking the land, tilling, repairing equipment and combining, working with his two brothers. After 35 years Burt and Peter graciously stepped aside to sell their share to their nephews, but never missed a beat and kept right on working on the farm.
Burt was never a grandfather, however, he had “grandchildren” on the farm. When that bunch got together there was lots of laughter and giggling, noise and good cheer.
Burt was inquisitive and interested in learning new things and loved the technology of the farm. He was able to answer questions in ways that others could easily understand. Peter wonders whether he will be able to operate the GPS system from now on.
Burt had a room full of toy farm equipment which he collected over many years. This summer he took a box full of these toys to a church to be given to refugee children.
Burt loved his home in the bush which was within driving distance to the farm with his side-by-side. He loved the deer that he fed in his backyard, although not so much the bear that occasionally looked into his bedroom window.
Burt appreciated his friends with whom he spent many enjoyable winter days snowmobiling in the Sandilands area at a pace that he could enjoy in spite of some limited visual ability.
In later years he loaded up quads, food and family for a day or weekend of fun quadding, making firewood, relaxing and eating in the bush. Often these fun times were initiated by Burt.
Burt had an adventurous spirit and enjoyed travelling, remembering his trips in great detail. He served with MDS several times and loved meeting new people. One winter he went back-packing into the Grand Canyon with his youngest brother. He spent numerous winters in Mexico with another brother and his family, enjoying good times that Burt wouldn’t always tell us about.
With this kind of adventurous spirit it is not altogether surprising that Burt was gung-ho to go on the greatest adventure of all, pursuing the possibility of a heart transplant. A heart attack, almost seven years ago, damaged his heart in significant ways. About 3 years ago he went into severe heart failure which led to him receiving an L-VAD, a mechanical heart pump, in November, 2020.
In the years since, there were numerous appointments and a few hospitalizations which eventually ended with a call from the transplant team in Edmonton on Aug 14, 2023, that they had a donor heart.
Burt was on the field making hay when he was told to be in Edmonton in 4 hours. Work on the farm stopped as the news spread and was celebrated. Burt was absolutely thrilled! His desire to live was strong and he was so tired of living with his heart pump. A new heart gave him new hope and gusto to
live and he had plans to go jogging next spring even on his bum knees. He also expressed his intention to encourage medical research and organ donation.
However, this was not to be, even though the transplant went well and there was lot of optimism when Burt and Yvonne returned from Edmonton on August 31. There was even more hopefulness when he came home to Ridgewood on Sept 8th. However, by Monday, the 18th Burt was needing hospital care and was admitted to ICU the following day, with two very serious infections. Because Burt’s immune system had been suppressed for the heart transplant, his body was not able to fight this assault to his body.
Because of Burt’s faith in God and hope in the resurrection, he is more alive now than his new heart could ever have made him.
Burt is survived by his five brothers, Russell (Tina), John, Peter, Donald (Shirley) and Darren, four sisters, Katherine, Phyllis (Ben), Betty (Paul) and Yvonne (Richard), and sister-in-law, Maureen, numerous nieces and nephews with their families, relatives and friends.
Burt was predeceased by his parents, two brothers, Delbert and Ray, and sisters-in-law, Martha and Shirley.
Burt expressed tremendous appreciation for his transplant team at St. Boniface Hospital, including the transplant coordinator, cardiologist and nurses as well as the transplant team in Edmonton. Homecare nurses who came twice weekly to change Burt’s dressings became good friends.
Thank-you, Peter, for being Burt’s life-long best friend and brother. The family would like to thank Yvonne for taking the time to look after Burt’s medical needs the last seven years, including accompanying him to Edmonton for the transplant surgery.
Thank-you for praying for Burt and his family in the last years.
In contrast to the isolation Burt experienced during an extended ICU stay during COVID, most of his family was there on Saturday, Sept 23, 2023 when Burt went to meet Jesus.
~ The Family
Viewing will be held on Tuesday, September 26th at 7:30pm with a devotional at 8:00 p.m. at Birchwood Funeral Chapel, Steinbach, MB.
The funeral service for Burton will be held Wednesday, September 27th, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. at Ridgewood EMC with the viewing one hour prior to the service. The interment will take place at the church cemetery.