Aug. 6, 1938-Nov. 11, 2020
Ernest Dueck, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend, passed away at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, MB on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020 following a short illness.
Left to remember him are his wife of 52 years, Lorraine; children, Byron (Brenna), Jocelyn, and Valerie (Curtis); grandchildren, Freyja and Even (and father Nathan) and Maya and Henry; siblings, Frank, Walter, Arnold, and Delmer; brothers- and sisters-in-law, Maria, Sara, Dave, Nettie, Vera, Eileen, Wendy, Eleanore, Anton, and Wayne; and many other dear relatives and friends.
He was predeceased by grandson Finnegan; siblings Peter, Sara, John, Mary, Ben, Martin, Henry, Anne, and Betty; and brothers- and sisters-in-law Margaret, Abe, Tony, Tina, Victor, Phyllis, Caroline, Elmer, Victor, and Gordon.
Ernest was born to Peter K. and Justina (Unger) Dueck in 1938 and was the 13th of 15 children, one of whom died in infancy. He grew up a little north of Steinbach and attended schools in Moray, Twin Creek, and Steinbach, graduating in 1957. In his teens, upon confession of his faith, he was baptized and became a member of the Steinbach Evangelical Mennonite Church. He earned his teaching certificate from Manitoba Teachers College in 1958 and began a life of teaching; his first jobs were in the Gravel Ridge School District (in a two-room school) and Kleefeld.
In 1962, he began studying at Grace Bible Institute (later Grace University) in Omaha, Nebraska, where in 1964 he completed the General Bible Course (magna cum laude) and in 1965 the Bachelor of Sacred Music (summa cum laude). Upon his return to Canada, he continued studies at the University of Manitoba, frequently taking evening, summer, and intersession classes, and earning two more undergraduate degrees, including a Bachelor of Education in 1970.
In 1968, upon her return from a two-year teaching contract in Soest, West Germany, he married Lorraine Regier, a friend since high school. They began married life as teachers in Thompson, moving to Winnipeg for Ernest’s university studies. They later lived in Niverville, Blumenort, Kleefeld, and Steinbach. They had three children: Byron in 1970, Jocelyn in 1971, and Valerie in 1975. The family, including grandchildren, celebrated Ernest and Lorraine’s 50th wedding anniversary together in 2018.
After Gravel Ridge and Kleefeld, Ernest taught at schools in Steinbach, Thompson, West Kildonan, Gravel Ridge (again), Niverville, and Mitchell, retiring in 1993. He specialized in mathematics, German, and music and was a member of the committee for Manitoba’s mathematics curriculum. He played a significant role in the early musical experiences of many students, directing operettas and concerts and leading classroom groups in speech arts and choral singing competitions in what is now the Southeastern Manitoba Festival, often with winning results, and once taking a school choir to the provincial finals.
Upon retirement, Ernest and Lorraine moved to Klaipeda to teach at Lithuanian Christian College (now LCC International University). They worked there until the autumn of 1997, taking opportunities to travel to several other European countries, including Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Ernest loved to travel, and he and Lorraine visited many of the cities where their children studied or worked, including Astana (now Nur-Sultan), Chicago, Geneva, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Minneapolis, New York, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Prague, Toronto, and Vienna. In the 2000s, they also toured France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, and Ukraine, among other countries. Closer to home, they enjoyed visiting places in Manitoba, Minnesota, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota with relatives and friends.
Another great love was singing. Ernest studied voice in college and sang in choirs and smaller ensembles throughout his life. He also directed choirs and led congregational singing, especially as a member of the Kleefeld Evangelical Mennonite Church. During the last decade, he sang as a member of a number of ensembles, including the Emmanuel Evangelical Free Church Choir, the Grandpas in Harmony Quartet, the Eastman Male Choir and Community Choir, and the Vespers Choir. His and Lorraine’s love of music had a significant impact on the careers of their children, all of whom work in that field. For Ernest, singing together was a vital aspect of congregational worship and community, and the loss of opportunities to make music during 2020 was difficult.
Ernest was an avid and patient gardener. He managed two large gardens on the five-acre property in Kleefeld, and in Steinbach created elaborate flower scenes depicting the number of birthdays or anniversaries a family member was celebrating. He loved puzzles of all kinds, and was known to juggle a Scrabble game, a crossword, and a Sudoku simultaneously, often while punning.
His creative streak was evident in his musical compositions and arrangements, and in his programs of readings and songs for special days. He made sure to celebrate grandchildren’s birthdays together whatever the difference in time zones, coordinating elaborate video calls involving household decorations, cakes, stories, original songs, and scavenger hunts. His love for pageantry was reflected back to him through his grandchildren, who looked forward to returning his efforts with performances of their own. As "Papa," he was patient, kind and silly; his love of learning was contagious, and his interactions with his grandchildren sparked joyful inquisitiveness.
In his later years, Ernest was active in the community as a volunteer at the Steinbach Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Shop, Bridgepark Manor, and the Southeastern Manitoba Festival, as well as with Gleaners in Abbotsford, BC and Cambridge, ON.
The family is grateful to Dr Mark Duerksen in Steinbach and to staff at the Health Sciences Centre for their care. Donations in Ernest’s memory may be made to the Mennonite Central Committee and to LCC International University.