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Dalbert Warkentin

Image by Nick Andréka


June 21, 1935 – May 18, 2024

Dalbert Lawrence Warkentin, known to all as Dal, died unexpectedly but peacefully at home on May 18, 2024. Having survived malaria, a motorcycle accident, cancer, multiple heart attacks, five children, and many years as a teacher/principal, we thought he would outlive us all. He leaves behind his wife Betty, his five kids Karen, Brad, Peter, Sigrid, and Sara, many grandchildren and a few great-grandchildren, his siblings Rosella, Arlene, and Gerry, and his in-laws John, Don, Marie, Shirley and Linda. He is predeceased by his parents, his brother Harvey, and his first wife Patricia.

God broke the mould when Dal was born on June 21, 1935, to Anne and Cornelius Warkentin, in Hepburn, Saskatchewan. As a child he was an avid reader, a tease and a teacher to his younger siblings, a lover of music, and a challenger of anyone in authority.

When Dal was three, the family packed up and moved to the Niagara region of Ontario, and soon established a small fruit farm, adjacent to Anne’s parents. His grandfather, Abram Wiebe, became Dal’s beloved hero as he was growing up, and maintained that status throughout Dal’s life. Dal fondly recalled his time on the farm eating his body’s weight in fruit daily and hiding in the outhouse when called upon to perform unpleasant chores. He did work hard, however, taking on additional jobs to buy his first bike, followed by his first car, a 1930s Model A coupe. He learned carpentry skills from his dad that he would use for the rest of his life building houses, decks, canoes, furniture, or anything else he might dream up.

As a child growing up in the Mennonite church, Dal dreamed of travelling the world as a missionary. As a young man, he discovered a different way to see the world – travelling as an educator. He attended Bethany Bible College while simultaneously completing high school through correspondence coursework, followed by the Wilfrid Laurier University (formerly Waterloo College) where he studied English.

While working as a young teacher in Ontario, he met Patricia Patkau, a pediatric nurse, whom he married in 1960. With their respective career choices, the pair made an admirable child rearing team, and they grew their family by three children, Karen, Brad, and Peter. Pat was an avid partner in Dal’s “travel the world” plans. Together the family lived in Hamilton, Wawa, and St. Joseph Island, ON, overseas in Thogoto, Kenya, then back to Oakville, ON, and on to Leaf Rapids and Killarney, MB. In Kenya, Dal’s passion for wildlife photography was born as he snapped black and white stills of lions, antelope and zebras (Oh my!). They took the kids camping everywhere, from the coast and parks in Kenya to the bush in Northern Manitoba, using a canvas tent which weighed about a tonne after a rain. Dal loved boats and built several over the years, including a houseboat built one winter in the schoolboard’s bus repair garage. In Killarney, he got his private pilot license and went flying in his Taylorcraft single-engine airplane, taking the kids up for a bird’s eye view. In this adventurous lifestyle, Dal and Pat raised their three children together until the end of their marriage.

While working in a teacher training program in the Caribbean, Dal met a fellow teacher from Manitoba, Betty Anderson. They married in 1984 and had two daughters, Sigrid and Sara, in the following years. Together, Dal and Betty taught in Winnipeg, MB; Minna, Nigeria, God’s Lake Narrows and Ste. Anne, MB; Nairobi, Kenya; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and San Jose, Costa Rica. Dal built from scratch or renovated every home the family lived in, and still found time to build little beds and travel trunks for the kids’ dolls. Dal and Betty often took the girls to the beach for the weekend, where Dal could be found baking in the sun with his nose in a book. In Costa Rica, Dal retired from education, having spent most of his career as a school superintendent or principal with many Canadian or international institutions. In addition to being an excellent leader in his chosen career, his daughters most enjoyed his singing while driving, and his performances in many musical theatre shows (special mention for the Modern Major General in the “Pirates of Penzance”).

Retirement did not slow down the pace of Dal’s dreams or schemes, as he continued to travel with family (Panama, Brazil, Mexico, and more), take on major house renovations, sing in choirs, act in community theatre, engage in spirited well-researched debates about history, politics, and religion, and spontaneously buy boats. Dal and Betty moved back to southern Manitoba in 2003 where they lived, laughed, and raced each other daily to finish the morning’s crossword. In 2015, Betty was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and in 2019 she moved into long term care.  After this, Dal lived on his own, did his best to clean his apartment, grew an abundant vegetable garden on the balcony, ate unlimited shrimp curry (Betty is allergic), and finally decorated in his own style which it turns out is very safari-themed. 

Dal was a good person to ring up when you had a crazy idea or a wild dream. He was always thinking up new adventures, building backyard zip-lines, motorcycling on treacherous mountain roads, or making up new lyrics to old songs to entertain his friends and colleagues. If you had an outlandish idea, he had either already done it or could get on board and help plan.

Dal was happiest and proudest when he was talking about his travels or his children and their many accomplishments. Many people reading this will already have been regaled by tales of his climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, riding his bike into the Niagara River, catching the pickpocket in Nigeria (Dal’s jeans were too tight to have his wallet pried out), or of course, the old classic, “Corny and the Rattlesnake”.

He loved nothing more than telling a good story, some of which may have been rather embellished, so please come chat with family and share some Dal stories on Monday July 15, 2024 at 2pm at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg, 603 Wellington Crescent. Wear something comfortable, colourful (he was partial to orange), or animal print.

Dal had a complete faith; not in religion, but in something good beyond this world and a life after death. At his memorial, we will be celebrating his audacious eighty-eight years of life and toasting to the next one.

If you ever crossed Dal, think of him when you eat breakfast — he many times instructed his kids to sprinkle a little of his ashes into the oatmeal of his enemies. If you liked or loved him, please think of him the next time you sit down with a cold beer, indulge in an absurdly large bowl of ice cream, crack the spine of a fresh book, or set off on an adventure. 

Dal’s family kindly requests that all his friends and relatives take a few minutes to honour his memory by sharing photos, memories, and stories, using the comment section on this page.


Cremation & Life Celebrations

530 St. Mary Avenue - Winnipeg

204-421-5501 -

Memories, Stories and Condolences


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Steve and Mary Cutting - Australia

July 14, 2024 at 2:25 AM

Sad news but with it many fond memories of time spent together with the Canadian entourage in Minna especially of our stay with Dal and Betty when they housed us in the back yard bungalow at their Ministry of Ed’ house. Dal was very industrious and made many improvements to the place, putting screens on the windows and making fly wire doors. It was a hoot living with them both. I can hear his voice and recall his mannerisms - he spoke with his hands. The stories have faded but his joie de vivre is vivid. Betty's laughter comes back too, their love for one another was palpable. A more recent memory is of an afternoon of sunlight and companionship lounging in the grass by the river with D&B, Yvette and Dave on our 2015 visit to Winnipeg, six old friends together, recalling adventures in Africa. Now on a wet wintry night here with the rain on the roof Mary and I recall that afternoon very fondly and it warms us both. Love you Dal

Kathy and Tony Calabrese

July 11, 2024 at 1:37 PM

Dear Sigrid, Sarah, and family,

We are so sorry for the loss of your father. Dal was a huge positive presence for our family in Argentina, as a principal but mostly as a friend. We have fond memories of family pizza nights, holidays, and travel together. We remember when he once interupped a burglary at our house! Every morning he stood outside the school with the children for BOTH national anthems.

A wonderful man who enriched our lives.


Bret Wiebe

July 6, 2024 at 3:59 AM

I have two memories of my uncle Dal to share, both of which involve aviation - an interest that we shared.

(1) During his flying days he landed the Taylorcraft in a farm field on the edge of Pilot Mound, MB and took me for a flight over the town. I've loved airplanes all my life and that experience helped me realize that flying was something that I could do too. I later earned my glider pilot's licence during university.

(2) There is a large fly-in/airshow every year in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, which Dal, my dad and I attended in 2005. One of the unique features of Oshkosh is that there is a float plane base that is reached via a shuttle bus from the main airport. We went there one afternoon and spent an hour or so enjoying a really unique environment.

Patti Zucca

June 25, 2024 at 9:16 PM

What a beautiful memorial! Dal truly comes alive through it. Sara and Sigrid and family, I'm sorry for your loss.

Marie Warkentin

June 25, 2024 at 1:51 PM


Where do I begin.?

To Dal's family children,brother and sisters.

Dal was a wonderful man and a father to be proud of.

My deepest sympathy.

He is all that you have written .what a tribute.

Of late we spoke via phone of the Old days,and how we jokeingly should plan a last hurrah. We laughed as we both have healthi issues.. But we thought it might be fun to visit Tony and Rosanne in Mexico. Would we fly,drive .came to the conclusion neither, was fun planning and laughing about our imaginary travel plans of course it is what kept us both young and laughing .

it was fun going down memory lane discussing the highlights of our lives. Many fond memories of St Joseph's Island, and of course Costs Rica.


Yes Dal was game for everything. It was exciting as I to was a bit adventuresome but he lived his.

I am terribly saddened that I will not be able to share with you ,your dad's amazing legacy. In July.

Please accept my heartfelt condolences ,I know what is like to lose someone you love,admire,respect.


Will be there in spirit and I will toast in Dal's memory and crack a book or two to the best if my ability.

Sending hugs to you all.

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