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November 4, 1937 – July 14, 2023
A life well lived. A life full of commitment to others, bettering the lives of everyone she met, and all simply an extension of her faith. Jessie Zacharias lived a community-centred life of generosity, kindness, gentleness, and humility.
As a primary school teacher, Jessie engaged children of all temperaments, inspiring those who had never sung before and keeping them interested in learning with her joyous enthusiasm. She organized many school musicals with her colleagues, some of whom remained close friends, and her classes won numerous music festival awards. She also led adult choirs, sang solos, and performed in marvellous concerts with the Manitoba Handbell Ringers.
The number of groups, clubs, and social activities that Jessie participated in and volunteered at are too many to list – but all the people in these groups meant so very much to her, which became evident also in the deep connection people felt to her. After retirement she enjoyed travelling internationally with friends and frequently took a suitcase of supplies for schoolchildren in other countries. When she recently became ill, dozens of people expressed concern and said they were missing her smile and laugh. Her joy can still be heard echoing in the halls of Bethel Place.
Jessie will be deeply missed by her family. Her nieces and nephews meant the world to her – she told stories, sang songs, and played with them endlessly over the years, including those in the next generation. Her “Yahoo!” when she won a game at a gathering or someone got an amazing score is something we will always remember. She especially enjoyed beating her brothers at bowling!
As the youngest sister in a large family, Jessie had a very special relationship with all her siblings. She is survived by her sisters, Sara Ens and Helen Ens (Abe); brothers, Peter Zacharias (Ella) and Ed Zacharias (Susan); sisters-in-law MaryAnne Zacharias (Frank) and Lydia Zacharias (Bernie); and numerous nieces and nephews and their families. She was predeceased by her parents, Peter S. and Aganetha (nee Penner) Zacharias; siblings, Jacob Zacharias, Susanna (in infancy), Mary Janzen, Nettie Zacharias, Anna Zacharias, Frank Zacharias, and Bernie Zacharias; nephews, Myron, Carl, and Michael; sister-in-law Mary Zacharias (Jacob), and brothers-in-law Henry Janzen and Henry Ens.
Jessie’s Mennonite heritage was a strong part of her identity, never taking the privileges of a free country where the elders had landed for granted. She remained devoted in her faith by attending and participating in Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church for many years, contributing with music and other volunteering.
It is a fitting coda to a life so generously lived that one of her last caregivers was a grade two student of hers from four decades ago. As they laughed together, he said that he had turned out okay in part because she had kept him in line.
We will keep telling stories, sharing our memories, and being deeply grateful to have known Jessie.
A memorial service will be held at Bethel Mennonite Church, 465 Stafford Street, on Wednesday, July 26 at 11:00 a.m., followed by a light lunch. Everyone is welcome. A private burial will follow at a later date.
Flowers are gratefully declined, due to sensitivities. Donations can be made to Abundance Canada (formerly Mennonite Foundation of Canada).
Memories, Stories and Condolences
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