Cover photo for Margaretha "Marge" Friesen's Obituary
Margaretha "Marge" Friesen Profile Photo

Margaretha "Marge" Friesen

April 16, 1933 — November 27, 2023

Altona, MB

Margaretha "Marge" Friesen

It is with heavy hearts, and great affection, that we announce the passing of Marge (Margaret) Friesen at the age of 90 on November 27th, 2023 at the Altona Health Care Centre.

Marge was the first born for Peter P and Olga Toews, and grew up on the family farm with 5 brothers and 1 sister in the Weidenfeld area northwest of Altona.  

Mom had many interests.....including public affairs, sports and music. 

Her love affair with music began early, listening to her mother Olga play the pump organ.  Marge learned to play the accordion, and violin and we are told, she and lifelong friend Nettie brought their instruments and enjoyment of dancing to parties in places like Weidenfeld, Horndean and New Hope. We've also come across videos of Mom in her 80's playing the accordian for the great grandchildren.  As an adult, and young mom, she joined the Altona Community Choir in its very first concert of Handel's Messiah in 1958.  Her memory book includes a picture of a youthful Marge Friesen as a front row soprano, for the first of many performances over the next 50 years with the Southern Manitoba Choral Society.  Mom sang in the Messiah ten times, and over that half century, served as President, was recognized as one of 14 life members, and sung for Maestros Boris Brott and Bramwell Tovey and the WSO as part of a 500 voice chorus.  It should be added that although Dad supported Mom's love of music, and at times was volunteered to usher, it would be fair to say, his enthusiasm was more "muted"...... having been known to fall asleep at the same token, she did accompany him on fishing trips....which generally were mostly "fishing" not "catching"

It's said, much of success can be achieved by simply showing up.....and in 1969, at age 36, Mom "showed up" at the Altona pool...not as a mom, but to learn to swim.....with much determination she achieved her Survival Swimming badge.  Mom was never a great swimmer, but thanks to her swimming buddies, and especially Ang Stoesz who dutifully reserved lane one, Mom regularly "showed up" to swim lengths until her mid 80's. She also participated in exercise classes at Gardens on Tenth, using soup cans as dumbbells, until she received a pair of one pounders as a Christmas gift. 

It's fair to say, Mom had a more than casual interest in politics, having learned at the kitchen table from her father, Peter P, a lifelong follower of the Liberals.  Mom's support for the Liberal party dated back to the 1968 Convention where Pierre Elliot Trudeau was chosen to lead the Liberals and the country.  She was especially thrilled when, at her 90th birthday party, grandson Justin Friesen presented her with a congratulatory certificate signed by another Trudeau, son and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

It was perhaps fitting that Mom passed away at the Altona Health Centre.....She spent many years there as a volunteer, visiting seniors in the Personal Care Home, and in a more public role with the Altona Health Care Ladies Auxiliary, also serving on the provincial board, and ultimately as Manitoba President, which involved attending numerous regional, provincial and national conventions in Calgary, Charlottetown, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Regina, Vancouver and Halifax.   Her hometown recognized Marge as Altona Citizen of the Year in 2015.  As was reported on CFAM Radio and Pembina Valley Online - Marge Friesen served on the executive of the Ladies Curling Club, the Southern Manitoba Choral Society and volunteered for a term on the Altona and District Research Centre. Marge also spent a year with the Altona Sunflower Festival food committee and along with Dad helped with the annual Rhineland Empty Stocking Fund for about a decade.  As she said, in a followup media interview, 

"I was always interested in meeting new people and I have worked with some great people and then there's the challenge of maybe learning something new about the organizations I got involved with."

2023 was difficult for Marge as the reality of an aging body and suspect heart forced her to rely on others    Although her "health status" still seemed to be a closely guarded secret, to be shared only on a need to know basis, her medical appointments became much more frequent.  Mom did share that despite challenges, this last year contained many thoroughly enjoyable events.......The highlight was her 90th birthday party, with surprise guests from as far away as BC, for an afternoon of laughter, reminiscing, and the poignant recognition that this might well be Mom's last hurrah.  ..She never said no to an outing.....but the bounceback took longer. Perhaps most meaningful was the continuation of her 70 year friendship with lifelong friend Nettie who passed away within a week of Mom, and they were together again, only this time in the funeral home.

Mom entered the Altona Health Care Centre on Sept 6th and over the next two months her spirits were buoyed by regular visits from her fellow church members, friends, family, granddaughter Brandi's enthusiastic hugs, complete with a commitment to pray for her.  Mom rallied.....earning respect and affection from the medical staff, including Palliative Care nurse Blake who described her as "a wonderful lady with a happy demeanor".....We could not agree more.   Mom spoke glowingly of the care she came to know and rely on.....and so do we...  Although Marge's spirits remained positive, her health again began to deteriorate and with family members at her bedside during those final hours, and the music of Handel and Mozart in the background, she slipped away at 7:30 on Monday evening, Nov 27th. 

Mom was predeceased by her husband CJ, son-in-law Larry Derksen, and brothers, Brian and Bill.  She leaves behind many positive memories for Al (Tara), Dennis (Angela), Sharon (Glen) and Colleen,  grandchildren Justin (Daphne), Melanie (Dan), Scott (Kendra), Carissa (John), Cody (Neele), Jason, Brandi, Colby, Nicole, and Louis with her most recent sparkles created by great grandchildren, Oliver, Julianna, Isabelle, Brooke, Elisa, Judah, Elliot, Felix and Madelyn.  She is also survived by sister Vera, and brothers Ron, Alvin, and Gary. 

Mom (and Dad) were proud of their hometown and volunteered for, and supported many organizations with their time and financial contributions.  The family of Marge invites you to make a contribution in Mom's name to the Altona Community Foundation.

Love you, Mom


The memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 9, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. at the Bergthaler Mennonite Church of Altona.  Interment will take place prior to the service at 1:00 p.m. at the Altona Cemetery.  Viewing will be at Wiebe Funeral Home Altona on Friday, December 8, from 1:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Donations in memory of Marge may be made to the Altona Community Foundation.


Click on the video link below to view the memorial service.

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Past Services


Friday, December 8, 2023

1:00 - 9:00 pm (Central time)

Wiebe Funeral Home Altona Ltd.

Box 308, 216 Centre Ave E, Altona, MB R0G 0

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Memorial Service

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Starts at 2:00 pm (Central time)

Bergthaler Mennonite Church, Altona

117 2nd St NW, Altona, MB R0G 0B1

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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