Klassen, Agatha Wiebe Thiessen (1887-1979)

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Agatha Wiebe at her nursing graduation.
Source: Preservings.

Agatha Wiebe Thiessen Klassen: registered nurse; born 9 May 1887 in Weidenfeld, Manitoba, to Peter B. and Anna K. (Wiebe) Wiebe as the fourth of nine children. Agatha’s younger brother, Cornelius Wiebe (1893-1999) became a family physician in Winkler and Manitoba’s first Mennonite Member of the Legislative Assembly.

Agatha grew up in a rural community in southern Manitoba. She attended school in Rosenfeld until another school was built nearer Weidenfeld. Her education was delayed when her parents needed her help at home.  However, when her own lack of strength prevented her from doing hard physical work, she was again allowed to continue her education. She completed Grade 11 at Mennonite Collegiate Institute in Gretna.  She moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1911 to receive nurse’s training at the Evangelical Deaconess Hospital. At the end of the 3-year program, she graduated with a nursing certificate in 1914 and returned to Manitoba as one of the first Mennonite women to hold official nursing qualifications.  Since these qualifications were not recognized by Canadian hospitals, she took another nursing course in Winnipeg. After she successfully passed the Canadian Registered Nursing examinations, she was employed at the Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Ninette, Manitoba for seven years.  By the end of her time, she was the head nurse.

Agatha married on 30 January 1927 at the age of 40 to Franz F. Thiessen (1882-1959), a widower with 11 children. Three years after their marriage, the couple’s first child was born, and a year and nine months later another child.  Agatha and Franz lived on a farm near Lowe Farm, Manitoba for 23 years. Agatha used her medical skills whenever someone in her large family became ill. She also assisted with vaccinations at the nearby school when necessary. Agatha and Franz retired to Steinbach in 1950, where Franz died in 1959.  A little later Agatha married Jacob J. Klassen. He died in 1961. Agathe spent her last eight years at the Salem Personal Care Home in Winkler, where she died on 6 December 1979.


GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 5.03 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2007: #166264.

Hildebrand, Marjorie Wiebe.  "Agatha Wiebe (1887-1979) Registered Nurse."  Preservings No. 14 (June 1999): 80-81.

Author(s) Susan Huebert
Date Published November 2007

Cite This Article

MLA style

Huebert, Susan. "Klassen, Agatha Wiebe Thiessen (1887-1979)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2007. Web. 20 Aug 2018. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Klassen,_Agatha_Wiebe_Thiessen_(1887-1979)&oldid=105531.

APA style

Huebert, Susan. (November 2007). Klassen, Agatha Wiebe Thiessen (1887-1979). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 August 2018, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Klassen,_Agatha_Wiebe_Thiessen_(1887-1979)&oldid=105531.

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