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Born: Sep 04, 1939

Date of Passing: Jan 17, 2004

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JAMES (JIM) RUSSEL PENNER 1939 - 2004 Peacefully, surrounded by family, Jim Penner, beloved husband, father and grandfather and respected businessman, statesman and charitable giver, passed away on January 17, 2004 at the age of 64 years old. He is survived and lovingly remembered by his wife of 45 years Beverley (nee Reimer) his sons, Phillip and Greg (Dianne) of Steinbach; daughter Judy (Jeremy) of Winnipeg; his grandchildren, Alixandra, Madeleine, Clarey, Lauren, Carli and by his older brother Reginald (Marj) younger sister Donna, as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Jim was predeceased by his mother Esther and his father Jake. Jim was born on September 4, 1939 in Rosthern, SK. He moved to Steinbach along with his family in 1946 when his father bought a small grocery store, Modern Grocery. In 1958, Jim married his childhood sweetheart, Bev, and the two moved to Chicago where Jim studied Sociology and earned his Bachelors degree from Trinity International University. Jim intended to study overseas following his University graduation and pursue a career in academics, but due to the health of his father, he returned home in 1962 to help run the grocery store. While it was not Jims initial intention to get involved with the family business, he proved to be a skilled businessman. Together with his staff, Jim grew the company from a small one-store enterprise, to one of Canadas most successful independent grocers, Penner Foods Ltd. During Jims 36 years as President of Penner Foods, he and his staff won many local, provincial and national awards for quality service and retail excellence, including Independent Grocer of the Year. By 1998, at the time of its sale, Jim had grown the company to six stores employing more than 800 people across the province. Despite the many pressures of retail business, Jim never lost sight of the importance of people and Penner Foods developed a reputation for superior service and as one of the best places to work in Manitoba. Jim always credited the success of Penner Foods to his staff and customers. While Jim had a head for business, he truly had a heart for service. In keeping with that spirit, he was quick to look for another opportunity to serve people after the sale of Penner Foods. He found that opportunity when he was elected as the Member for the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for the Steinbach Constituency. During his term in the provincial legislature, Jim often commented how lucky he was to be representing the same people who were his customers and staff at Penner Foods. He always took great pride in the people he represented and will be remembered in the Legislature by all MLAs and staff as a true statesman. Throughout his life, Jim practiced his belief in giving. He believed that he was only the steward of the resources that God had given him and his many public acts of charitable giving were matched by the countless anonymous acts of charity he performed each day. He traveled the world to help others, from teaching free enterprise in Russia to working with the Mennonite Economic Development Association in India. Jims concern for people led him to become actively involved in many organizations such as the Association for Community Living, The Variety Club, and Trinity Western University. While he shied away from public recognition for his charitable acts and service, the honours came, including recognition as the 2001 Variety Club Humanitarian of the Year and with the designation of an honorary Doctorate of Law degree from Trinity Western University. In spite of his many accomplishments, Jims greatest pride was reserved for his family. While the demands on his time were often great, he always made time, whether in person or by phone, to connect with those who meant the most to him. The family cottage at Falcon Lake became a meeting place and Jim spent many summer weekends in the company of family and entertaining friends. Jims love for travel and his love for family often met as numerous family trips were enjoyed throughout the world, including a family trip to Disney World last spring prior to his diagnosis with cancer. As a husband, father, grandfather, employer, representative and charitable giver, Jim touched the lives of thousands and thousands of people around the world. His spirit, his compassion and his love for people will live on forever in each of these lives. Jim was a true servant of the people. He has gone to be with God, but he has left our world a better place. The family wishes to express sincere gratitude to Dr. Curtis Krahn, the Steinbach Cancer Care Unit, Palliative Care and supportive friends and family. The viewing will be held from 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 20 at the Cornerstone Bible Church, 290 1st St. in Steinbach. A Memorial Service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 21 at the Emmanuel Evangelical Free Church, 360 McKenzie Ave. in Steinbach. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Jim can be made to the Association for Community Living (395 Main St., Steinbach MB. R5G 1Z4) or Trinity Western University (7600 Glover Rd., Langley B.C. V2Y 1Y1). Arrangements entrusted to LOEWEN Funeral Chapel 5 Chrysler Gate - Steinbach - 326-1351

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Jan 21, 2004

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