Margaret Willms was born on September 29th, 1923 ,the third of five children to Jacob and Elizabeth (Wiebe) Martens in Russia. She was 3 years old when her parents immigrated from Russia to Canada in 1926. The family farmed in Mullingard, Saskatchewan where they homesteaded for 9 years. After nine years of crop failures, her family moved to Gem, Alberta where her dad opened a blacksmith shop. During these years, Margaret was able to attend school up to grade 9. When Margaret’s mother was diagnosed with cancer in 1939, the family moved to Coaldale, because there was a Mennonite Doctor there. But her dad soon became ill with what was believed to be meningitis. Margaret was only 15 when the first parent died, and her mom died just 3 months later. The children than all went to live with Margaret’s brother Jake and his wife Chris. Her sister Betty came home after her Mom died and helped raise the children. In spite of a young family being left without parents, they were determined to remain together as family. To do so, they worked hard, including work in beet fields. Margaret was working in the Del Monte General Store in Coaldale when she met Henry Willms, a bus driver who drove prisoners of war to their place of work. Needless to say, her favourite chocolate bar became the Oh Henry! They were the first couple in church to exchange double wedding rings and also go on a honeymoon! They lived in Coaldale where Henry became a bee-keeper. Katherine and Linden were both born in Lethbridge. In 1949, the family moved to Pincher Creek and Henry took over the renting of the Braniff farm in 1950. Henry and Margaret also became members of the Springridge Mennonite Church during this time. It was in Pincher Creek that Elizabeth and Rose were added to the family. Life started with no power and no running water – Margaret ran the water in and out. The cellar was used as a fridge. She also did the much of the milking. During harvest, there was a thrashing crew coming by so there was a lot of baking and cooking in addition to having her babies to look after. After the death of her husband in 1983 , Margaret lived on the family farm, sharing the load with her son Linden and family and later, her granddaughter Tany Warkentin and family also joined. These were wonderful years of sharing meals and life together with family. The last year of her life was spent at Vista Village in Pincher Creek where she received loving care by the staff. The family will be ever grateful for that. She was predeceased by her husband Henry, son-in-law Norman Greene, grandson-in-law Jeff Warkentin; siblings Jakob Martens, Betty Loewen, Frieda Martens and Mary Siebert. Margaret is survived by her children Katherine Greene, Linden (Del) Willms, Elizabeth (Brent) Sparks and Rose (Allan) Friesen; as well as 9 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren.
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