Hiebert, Helena Penner (1874-1970)
|Left: Helena Penner, ca 1900 university
Right: Helena Penner, 1902. Preservings photos.
Helena Penner Hiebert, the first Mennonite woman to graduate from a university in Manitoba, was born on 14 October 1874 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. She was one of 11 children, of which five survived to adulthood, born to Erdman Penner (1837-1907) and Maria Eitzen (1840-1900). On 10 July 1902 Helena married Dr. Gerhard Hiebert (died 1934) of Mountain Lake, Minnesota who later became chief surgeon at Winnipeg General Hospital from 1917-1919. Together they had three daughters, Elfriede, Gerda and Catherine. In her later years Helena moved to live with her daughter Catherine Brown in Beloeil, Quebec where she died on 12 February 1970.
During her early years Helena was very fortunate to have parents who believed in higher education for all their children. After attending elementary school in the villages of Tannenau, Edenburg and Gretna, she went to study in Mountain Lake, Minnesota where her grandmother lived. She was then tutored by H. H. Ewert in Gretna while taking music lessons in Winnipeg. In 1899 Helene graduated as the Silver Medallist from Wesley College (later to become the University of Winnipeg). She immediately joined the faculty but had to resign when her mother died in 1900. Helena was involved in organizing the Modern Languages Club which later became the University Women’s Club at the University of Manitoba. Of all her many accomplishments her memoirs entitled "Granny Stories" is considered one of her greatest. In these stories Helena lovingly preserves images of the virgin prairie and life as it was in the early years of settlement in southern Manitoba.
Dyck, John. "Helena Penner Hiebert (1874-1970): True Pioneer." Preservings (June 1997): 7-10.
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MLA style: Brown, Sharon H. H. "Hiebert, Helena Penner (1874-1970)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. June 2006. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/H53707.html.
APA style: Brown, Sharon H. H. (June 2006). Hiebert, Helena Penner (1874-1970). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/H53707.html.