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Born: Jun 01, 1912

Date of Passing: Nov 28, 2004

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PETER W. ENNS 1912 - 2004 Peacefully, after a long, productive, and community-minded life, Peter W. Enns, 92, of Winkler, MB died on November 28, 2004 at Salem Personal Care Home. Born on June 1, 1912, he was the eighth of 11 children of William F. and Anna Enns (nee Wiens) of Greenfarm, MB. He grew up on the family farm learning what it was to work, and after seven years of schooling at Greenfarm School, he took up regular chores on the farm. Although his formal education was limited, P.W. (as he was affectionately known to his family and community) was an extraordinarily visionary individual who pursued his love of learning throughout his long life. He apprenticed as a shoemaker, held a gas fitters license, and was a self-taught plumber, electrician, builder, welder, musician, carpenter, woodworker, and inventor. He obtained his pilots license at age 58 and flew small planes for many years. If he had had the opportunities for further formal education, P.W. would probably have excelled as a structural engineer or architect. Yet he never let his lack of schooling hold him back from following his passion to create, build, and solve problems which others often found insurmountable. He loved to devour Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines and figured out ways to read them while going about his chores. His brother used to get annoyed at him because he would read magazines while working the fields, aligning the front wheel of the tractor with the furrow and allowing it to drive on its own. Occasionally he would be halfway across the field before he would notice he was off course. He married the love of his life, Helena Buhler, on December 20, 1931, and five children were born to this union, Erna, Harold (died in infancy in 1935), Katy, Jane, and Willie. The family moved to Niverville in 1934, where P.W. opened a shoe repair shop and four years later became partners with his brother John in a farm implement and petroleum company, and later an auto dealership. The family moved back to Greenfarm in 1944 to take over the family homestead, but there always seemed to be projects that distracted him from farming. He designed and manufactured a powered snow caboose used by Winkler doctor C.W. Wiebe on his many calls to rural homes. During the electrification of rural Manitoba in the 1940s, P.W. and his brothers wired many farms and homes in Greenfarm. He designed, engineered and built a functioning elevator that served the Bethel Hospital for several decades. He spent hours tinkering, and designing in his well-equipped farm welding shop, building a self-propelled swather for his own farm and manufacturing hydraulic truck lifts for other farmers, using parts stripped out from decommissioned World War Two airplanes he had hauled to his farm from nearby air bases. In 1956, he and Helena left the farm because of her health and moved to Winkler, where he established Enns Plumbing and Heating. He continued his backyard tinkering, and inspired by travel trailers he saw on a trip to Elkhart, IN, built a prototype in a friends garage. At 53, at an age many would consider too old to start a new business, he channelled his entrepreneurial and visionary spirit into establishing a recreational vehicle manufacturing company with his two sons-in-law, Pete Elias and Philipp Ens. This business now known as Triple E Canada was originally intended to provide winter work for the employees in his plumbing shop, but the manufacturing company grew rapidly, and by 1968, the plumbing business was sold. P.W. served as the companys first president from 1965-69. His sons-in-law took over active management of the company, but P.W. continued to provide ongoing guidance and inspiration for many years. Triple E Canada is still a family-run business, with his oldest grandson serving as president. His faith and church involvement was integral to his life. He was baptized in the Winkler Bergthaler Mennonite Church upon the confession of his faith on May 24, 1931, where he remained an active participant throughout his life. His strong commitment to mission and service was demonstrated in many practical ways. He volunteered his plumbing and electrical skills to build the chapel at the Mennonite seminary in Elkhart, used his engineering and visionary skills to design the Bergthaler Church building in 1970, and offered his organization skills and connections to reconstruct the Mennonite Hospital in Taiwan. He viewed his business as an extension of his church life, growing the company in order to provide employment for his fellow citizens and directing profits into many charitable and church projects. He established the P.W. Enns Family Foundation to raise funds to build the Mennonite Heritage Centre at 600 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, on the campus of what is now Canadian Mennonite University. Visitors to this striking, A-frame building can admire his personal touch on the handcrafted wooded doors gracing the entrance. His faith was expressed openly in his community work, but also quietly and simply inside his home and within his family. P.W. also offered his many talents and skills to the local community, serving as a trustee for the Greenfarm School District, a volunteer at the Mennonite Central Committee headquarters, and as a member of the Bergthaler church council and on two building committees. He served on the boards of Salem Home, Eden Health Care, and was a member of Mennonite Economic Development Associates and a lifetime member of the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Steinbach, as well as the Stanley Flying Club. In 2004, he was recognized for his many accomplishments, achievements and contributions when he was named Winklers Citizen of the Year. He expressed his love of music by playing in the Greenfarm and Winkler bands, in his celebration of the many musical accomplishments of his children and grandchildren, and through the donation of the pipe organ to the chapel of Canadian Mennonite Bible College. His inventive and inquiring mind was only stopped by the advancement of Alzheimers Disease in later years. After the death of his beloved Helena in 1993, he lived peacefully and quietly for the next decade at Salem. He was predeceased by his infant son Harold in 1935, his son-in-law Pete Elias in 1995, his daughter Katy in 2000, and one great-granddaughter Yriel, in 1992. He is lovingly remembered by daughter Erna Elias; son-in-law Philipp Ens and his wife Ilse; daughter Jane Peters and her husband Harold; and son Willie Enns and his wife Sharon; by his 12 grandchildren, Terry and Eleanor Elias, Ron and Linda Elias, Shirley Elias and Michael Sullivan, Flori Ens and Jamie MacIver, Phillip Ens and Bridget Breiner, Johanna Ens and Alexander Klauser, Peter Ens, Yvette and Jeff Demke, Yvonne Peters, Chadrey and Isabel Peters, Karl and Kim Enns, Kristina and Robert Martens; and eight great-grandchildren. Funeral services for Peter W. Enns will be held 2:00 p.m., Wednesday, December 1 at the Winkler Bergthaler Mennonite Church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to P.W. Enns Family Foundation to support education, health and relief work. Viewing will take place at Wiebe Funeral Home, Winkler on Tuesday, November 30 from 1:00 to 9:00 p.m. and at the church prior to the service. Wiebe Funeral Home, Winkler In charge of arrangements 325-4201

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Nov 30, 2004

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