Klassen, Jacob J. (1912-1979)
|Jake Klassen, 1958
Jacob J. "Jake" Klassen: administrator and churchman; born 29
October 1912 in Friedensruh, Molotschna Mennonite Settlement, the second child in a family of five
daughters and two sons born to Jacob J. and Katharina (Hooge) Klassen. In 1941
he married Helen Toews and they had four daughters. Jake died 13 October 1979 in
Abbotsford, British Columbia.
In September 1926 Jake Klassen moved to Canada with his parents and siblings,
settling near Watrous, Saskatchewan. He was baptized on 19 August 1934 at
Philadelphia Mennonite Brethren Church, Watrous by Peter
Janzen. As a young man Jake pursued his high school education by correspondence
while grain farming in Watrous. He also attended Bible school for five years
during this time--two years at Tabor Bible School in Dalmeny, Saskatchewan, two
years at Bethany Bible Institute, and a final year at Winkler Bible Institute.
Jake and Helen were married in Gretna, Manitoba on 13 September 1941. They
returned to the Watrous area to farm before moving to Chilliwack, British
Columbia in 1945.
While engaged in mixed farming in Chilliwack, Jake along with a number of other
Mennonites became a founding member of the East Chilliwack Fruit Growers
Cooperative Association (later East Chilliwack Agricultural Co-op) in 1947 and was its
general manager from 1947 to 1957. Although the cooperative began as a raspberry packing
plant and marketing agency, it expanded within a few years to include livestock
and poultry feed manufacturing and distribution, and gradually became the major
feed supplier in the Fraser Valley and a primary employer in Chilliwack.
In 1953, while still serving as general manager of the East Chilliwack Co-op,
Jake Klassen became sales manager for the Abbotsford Growers Co-op, a position
that he held until 1972. During this time the Abbotsford Growers Co-op became the largest processor
of raspberries in Canada. In 1958 the Klassens moved to Abbotsford and in 1959
Jake was one of the founding members of the Tabor Home Society in Abbotsford, a
Mennonite senior citizens facility and served as board chairman 1959-1966. The
Tabor Home residence began with 39 units and grew to 120 intermediate care
units. Jake was chairman of the Mennonite Educational
Institute (1961-67) and a board member of the Clearbrook District Mennonite Savings Credit Union (later
merged with East Chilliwack Credit Union to form First Heritage Savings Credit
Union; now Envision Credit Union, Canada's fourth largest credit union as of
Frequent travel, often with Helen, became part of Jake's administrative
activity. By nature Jake seemed to portray a rather conservative attitude, and
his daughters sometimes chided him for being a "stoic." However, for Jake
nothing surpassed a good round on the greens, golfing with his friends.
Jake Klassen's administrative vocation led to involvement beyond local business
and community activities. In 1965 Jake and Helen were founding members of the
Bakerview Mennonite Brethren Church in Abbotsford. In
terms of the broader Mennonite Brethren conference, Jake served as chairman of
the British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren
Churches Board of Trustees (1971-79), as a member of the
Canadian Conference of Mennonite
Board of Trustees (1964-79), and as a member of the
General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches Board of Trustees
(1969-1979). His avid involvement in church and conference activities is best
expressed by his statement that, "I loved it. Given the opportunity, I would do
Abbotsford Growers Co-op 50th
Anniversary, 1948-1998. Abbotsford, BC: Abbotsford Growers Co-op, 1998.
Walter, ed. East Chilliwack Agricultural Co-op: 50 Years of Service. Chilliwack, BC: East Chilliwack Co-operative, 1997.
Penner, Helen. Interview by author. Abbotsford, BC (November 2001).
Eric L., compiler and editor. Tabor Home Society: 25 Years of Service
Care. Abbotsford, BC: Tabor Home Society, 1987.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
To cite this page:MLA style:
Dick, Henry. "Klassen, Jacob J. (1912-1979)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online.
December 2001. Web. 21 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/K5378.html.APA style:
Dick, Henry. (December 2001). Klassen, Jacob J. (1912-1979). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online.
Retrieved 21 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/K5378.html.