When you stopped by Agnes Klassen’s home, she welcomed you with delight and an invitation to join her in fun: making socks, bread, music... That’s who she was. Agnes died peacefully on March 29, 2020 at the Valley Manor in Barry’s Bay. She was almost 86.
Agnes was born April 26, 1934, and grew up with 11 siblings on the Klassen farm in Aldergrove, British Columbia. She graduated as a nurse from the Essondale Psychiatric Institution in Coquitlam, BC. Her nursing career spanned decades, taking her from BC to Great Britain and Ontario.
Agnes loved adventure, and travelled to California, across Canada, to Britain, France and Australia. In England, she met her longtime partner Johathan Glover. They lived in London and Wales, and for a time on a riverboat in the English channels, publishing a newspaper about their community. After seeing a bit of the world, Agnes and Johnathan chose to settle in Canada, and built their home in Rockingham, Ontario.
Family and friends recall visits to Agnes’ home with great fondness, as there was always something unusual and fun to do: learning to make fresh pasta and homemade beer, cooking outside, long evening visits with cake and wine and neighbours.
Agnes cared deeply about her community: she helped the struggling CHCR radio station get off the ground and supported the Killaloe Fair. She freely helped her friends, shared food from her garden and shared her skills with anyone interested in learning them. She could butcher a turkey, make maple syrup, soap, and wine... the list of what she could not do might be a shorter one.
Agnes was a master knitter. When she retired from nursing, she opened “The Woolly Jumper” and sold beautiful and often intricate woolen clothing to shops throughout the region. When she stopped knitting around age 80, many folks in the Valley quickly learned to darn, eager to preserve the last of Agnes’ famously colourful striped socks.
After Jonathan died, Agnes moved into Killaloe. She became well known in the village for her homemade sourdough loaves, which sold fast at Grandma’s Pantry. She loved nothing better than to get the neighbours in for a “jam session”, belting out Beatles and Rolling Stones tunes on the piano for all to sing and play along.
In her later years, Agnes moved to the Water Tower Lodge and then to the Valley Manor, where she continued to welcome visitors and share her stories of past adventures.
Agnes believed in living simply and well, balancing hard work with the pleasures of life: beauty, adventure, music and companionship. Friends and family remember her as a free spirit; grounded, positive, and fun. Throughout her life, she lifted those around her with her humour, generosity, courage and strength.
Agnes is survived by an older sister Mary Frick of Kimberly, BC; two younger brothers Dave Klassen of Edmonton, Alberta; Abe Klassen of Williams Lake, BC, and many, many beloved nieces and nephews. She was pre-deceased by her parents Peter and Agnes Klassen, and siblings Margaret Wedel, Louise Klassen, Peter Klassen, Jacob Klassen, John Klassen, Ann Froese, Henry Klassen, and George Klassen, and by her long-time partner Jonathan Glover.
Special thanks to Dr. Malinowski, the staff at Water Tower Lodge and the Valley Manor, and to Zohr Family Funeral Home.
Agnes wanted no ceremony or “fuss” to mark her death. Instead, a memorial music jam will be held in her honour in Killaloe, Ontario, at a later date. Details will be announced in the Eganville Leader and Valley Gazette. Contact Genevieve Way of Killaloe for more information.