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NEIL (CORNELIUS) KOOP
June 5, 1949 - August 18, 2023
Peacefully, with his beloved wife Marge and close friends at his side, Neil passed away on August 18, 2023.
Left behind to mourn his passing are his wife Marge of 53 years, his brothers Jac (Mary) Koop and Dave Koop (Heather Sheardown); brothers-in-law Vern Penner, John Froese (Marie) and sisters-in-law Anne Penner, Bertha Gunson and Marie Penner as well as many nephews, nieces and friends. He was predeceased by his parents, Peter N. and Katharina Koop; sisters Helen Severson, Annie Schultz, Tina Siemens, Margaret Van Wyk and his brother Peter Koop.
Neil grew up on a small hobby farm on the outskirts of Steinbach. His mother, widowed when Neil was only 4, led him to become the hard-working, forever patient, kind and compassionate man for which he was known and loved. Always ready to lend a hand, he put others needs in before his own.
Neil was schooled in Steinbach and went on to attend the University of Manitoba where he received his Bachelor of Social Work. He began his career in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where he worked as a Marriage and Family Therapist at the Moose Jaw Union Hospital. It was here that Neil and Marge formed a life-long bond with Jez and Sandra Ryba, quickly becoming a part of their family. Leaving their friends behind was a difficult choice but adventure was calling. Two and a half years later they made the move to the northern frontier of Whitehorse, Yukon. Their brand new, bright red Datson was quickly traded in for a second-hand VW Westphalia van and they were off, about to experience 950 miles of gravel! Just a year earlier they made their first trip to the Rockies where they fell in love with the breathtaking beauty. From that moment on, they spent most of their summer vacations hiking in the mountains. Whitehorse seemed a natural fit. It was here that Neil cut his teeth as a social worker, covering every facet of social work along the Alaska Highway from Whitehorse to the Alaska border, including communities north and south of Whitehorse.
After two years he returned to Winnipeg to pursue his Masters of Social Work at the University of Manitoba. Neil worked as a professional Social Worker for 44 years, spending the last 15 years as a consultant, fully retiring in 2019. He worked with numerous government and non-government organizations, spending most of his career working in mental health and mental wellness. He was passionate about removing the stigma associated with mental health, wanting it to be normalized and recognized as an illness like any other.
Neil was loved and respected by his colleagues. He always went into work early to do what he called his “bean-counting” so that for the rest of the day his door would be open to listen to people’s concerns, to collaborate and come up with creative solutions to problems.
Neil was a constant support to Marge in her career, becoming known as her “O’Neil”, her favourite and trusted roadie. Whether it was lifting and carrying equipment, setting up and tearing down the stage, stacking and unstacking chairs and tables, running errands only to be sent out one (or two or three) more times to pick up “just one more thing” that was absolutely essential.
Neil lived his life with gratitude, each and every day. In 2005 he fell ill with an unknown virus, went from being a healthy person, walking many miles every day to having no heart function in a matter of 10 days. A new heart became available after a short 15 hours of being placed on the list. Post transplant, Neil lived a healthy, full and wonderful life, enjoyed working out at the Rady Centre 4 to 5 days a week, cycling, hiking, puttering and building things around the home and cottage. Life became more challenging in the last year of his life. Through it all, he never complained. He was happy to the end, grateful for the gift of 17 1/2 additional years of precious life. Neil was grateful to be able to do home dialysis with his favourite “nurse” Marge by his side.
Special thanks to Shari Barker, Dr. Shelly Ziroth and Dr. Allan Schaffer at the Adult Heart Transplant Program at the St. Boniface Hospital and the staff at the Home Hemodialysis program at Seven Oaks Hospital for their care and support.
In accordance with Neil’s wishes, cremation has taken place. A celebration of Neil’s life will take place at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, September 13, 2023 at Young United Church.
When you remember me I shall be among you
When you think about me, smile
My memory will be a blessing on you
Remember me and Death
will not have power over me.
Translated from Hungarian
Donations may be made to the St. Boniface Hospital Foundation or a charity of your choice in honour of Neil.
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