Biographies Home

Yarrow, British Columbia

Edited by
Esther Epp Harder, Edwin Lenzmann, and Elmer Wiens

Biographies and Obituaries

BARTSCH, Anna Funk

Anna Funk Bartsch 1897-1989
Anna Funk Bartsch was born Katerinowka, a small village in southern Russia on February 6, 1897. She was the ninth child of a large family of eighteen children, born to Johann & Lena Funk. Of the thirteen children who grew up to be adults, Anna was the last remaining survivor.

She was raised in a tradition of religious and respect, Anna early committed her life to the Lord and served him faithfully ever since. At 14, she was baptized and became a member of the Mennonite Brethren Church. She shared a happy and untroubled childhood with her family and friends in Katerinowka until the time of the Great War.

Then trouble began. During the Civil War in the Ukraine, she saw her house invaded by molesting and murdering bandits. In the ensuing turmoil her father and some of her brothers were taken into captivity in a concentration camp in Siberia where they died of starvation. In 1927, therefore, she decided to leave Russia. She said good-bye to Katerinowka and immigrated to Canada. Here she attended Bible School in Winkler, Manitoba where she met Heinrich Bartsch, whom she married in 1928. They made their home in Dalmeny, Saskatchewan.

Convicted by the Spirit of God, they resolved to become missionaries and decided to go to Africa. Limited as they were in financial resources, they sold everything they owned on the farm in Dalmeny and set out for the Congo in 1930. Here they opened new territory among the Dengese tribe at Bololo, deep in the heart of equatorial Africa just north of the Sankura River. Anna stayed up many a night translating songs and Scriptures into the Dengese dialect, a hitherto unwritten language of the natives of the Congo. Here also, apart from tending her small children, two of whom were born to her there in the wilderness, Anna also supervised the mission operation for an entire year, along, while her husband had gone back to Canada to renew citizenship papers and raise funds for the mission work.

The strain proved a bit too much and the need for recovery and for furlough forced the Bartsch family to return to Canada in 1938. While Henry Bartsch continued the mission work in Africa during the war years, Anna raised four children alone in Winnipeg.

In 1942 the family was reunited again and moved to Yarrow, British Columbia. Here Anna became active in Church work, teaching Sunday school, German language school on Saturday, conducting the Ladies Choir, Bible classes and Youth Girls clubs.

In 1966 Anna was put to the test again when her husband died. During the 23 years as a widow she minister with song and word in retirement home on a weekly basis. She led Bible study groups and gave talks. In her 80's she wrote her autobiography, Die Verborgene Hand (also available in English). In which she recounted evidences of the "hidden hand" of God in the eventful 90 years of her life in Russia, Africa and Canada. She passed into the presence of the Lord on Tuesday October 10, 1989 at the age of 92. Her funeral was held on Saturday October 14th in the Clearbrook Mennonite Brethren Church with Pastor Jacob Pauls officiating.

Her greatest joy was to serve the Lord and to study His word. Fittingly, she concluded the story of her life with words of St. Paul:

"Therefore we do not heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." II Corinthians 4:16.

Anna Bartsch is survived by four children: Erna and her husband Nick Reimer, Lydia and her husband William Reimer, Arthur and his wife Helen, Karl and his wife Evelyn; and by eleven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

The Bartsch Family

Anna Funk Bartsch

Anna Bartsch of Clearbrook BC passed away October 10, 1989. She was born February 6, 1897 to Johann & Lena (Loewen) Funk in Ekaterinovka, Ignatyevo, South Russia, she was their 10th child out of 18. Early she committed her life to Christ and has served Him ever since. She was baptized in 1910 at 14 at Katerinovka, Russia and joined the MB Church. They lived Katerinovka. During the civil war, her father and some bothers were taken to Siberia where they died. Sher sister died of starvation. In 1927 she immigrated to Canada. She attended Winkler Bible School, where she met Heinrich Bartsch. They were married in 1928 and lived on a farm in Dalmeny Sask.

In 1930 they sold their possessions and went to the Congo as missionaries. They opened new territory in the Congo among the Dengese at Bololo. She stayed up at night translating songs and scripture into previously unwritten Dengese dialect. Anna played the autoharp to accompany herself when teaching and singing the songs. Anna supervised the mission for a year while Heinrich went to Canada while Heinrich went to Canada to renew their citizenship papers and raise funds. They went on furlough in 1938.

During World War II, Heinrich worked at the mission while she raised four children alone in Winnipeg. In 1942, the family was reunited and they moved to Yarrow, BC. Anna taught Sunday school and German language school on Saturdays at the Yarrow MB Church. She also conducted the ladies choir, Bible classes and girls clubs.

In 1966, Heinrich died. She continued to serve, ministering weekly with song and word in retirement homes, leading Bible study groups and giving talks.

In her 80's she wrote her autobiography: The Hidden Hand, concluding with II Corinthians 4:16. She was predeceased by all 17 of her brothers and sisters. She is survived by her children: Erna (Nick) Reimer; Lydia (Bill) Reimer, Arthur (Helen) and Karl (Evelyn); 11 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. Her funeral was October 14 in Clearbrook MB Church with Jacob Pauls ministering.

Back Row: 1. _____ 2.______ 3. Mary (Henry) Janzen 4. ________5. _______6._______ 7. Mrs. Peter Giesbrecht
8. _______ 9. ________

Middle Row: 1. Elizabeth (George) Epp 2. Anna (Peter D.) Loewen 3. Anna (Heinrich) Bartsch                        
4. Olga (Aaron) Rempel 5. Anna (Frank) Dahl

Front Row: 1. ______ 2. Tina (Jake) Dirks 3. ________ 4. Helena (George) Reimer 5. Mary (Corney) Wolfe        
6. Anne (George) Sawatsky

1. Anna from the front cover of her book "Die Verborgene Hand"
2. A page from "Die Fiebel" a book Anna used to teach German at Yarrow Saturday German School
3. Anna and her children in Winnipeg 1940
4. Anna's Yarrow ladies group celebrating her birthday.


      Copyright © Elmer G. Wiens:   EgwaldTM Web Services       All Rights Reserved.    Inquiries