Heritage Highlights: John J. Elias - his impact on Winkler still felt today

Some John J. Elias memorabilia given to the Society that is on display at the Winkler Civic Centre.

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John J. Elias: 1912-2011
John J. Elias was born on September 21, 1912 to John M. Elias and Maria Elias (nee Braun) on the Elias homestead in Winkler. From an early age he displayed a curious and inventive streak, often frustrating his conservative parents. His inquisitiveness continued until he passed away.
Education and the search for knowledge were always evident in his life. Having completed his grade twelve in Winkler, he furthered his education by attending the University of Manitoba and graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture. During the summer, while going to university, he worked at the Morden Research Station, a time which he greatly enjoyed. Although his dream was to become a chemist, the war and the death of his father prevented this from becoming a reality, he also worked as a field man for the Manitoba Sugar Company for many years.
After a long courtship, he married the love of his life, Esther Marie Pelser. They were blessed with three daughters – Shirley, Frances and Mildred. He took great interest and pride in the activities and accomplishments of not only his children, but his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His wife Esther developed Alzheimer’s when in her early sixties and it was his desire to give her the best quality of life possible until her demise at age ninety.
A major interest was traveling. This included trips to Scotland, England, Wales, South America, Alaska, Mexico and many other points in the USA. One of his favourite places to travel was Saskatchewan. He made many trips there with his wife. Daughter Mildred took him on his last trip just four weeks before he passed away on October 10, 2011.
Some of his other interests included music and playing piano until the age of ninety-five. He was an avid reader and writer and had two books of his life stories published – “I Remember When…” volumes 1 & 2. He enjoyed gardening and some of his landscaping talents are evident in and around Winkler. Community involvement included serving on various boards, such as, the Credit Union, Co-op, Stanley Agriculture Society, the Winkler Canary and the Winkler Creamery. He also enjoyed constructing models with Meccano and the Winkler Heritage Museum was gifted one of his many accomplishments.
Heritage Highlights, supplied by the Winkler Heritage Society, introduces readers to the people, places and things that still impact us today. The Winkler Heritage Museum is located in the Southland Mall and is open Tuesday to Friday, 12 to 4 p.m., Saturdays 10 am – 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday evenings. The Archives located in the Winkler Centennial Library are open Wednesdays from 3 to 5 p.m.. For appointments call archivist Ed Falk at 204-325-8929. The Stones and Stories binders are on display at both locations. Come for a visit!

The Annual General Meeting of the Winkler Heritage Society takes place Wednesday, March 6 at 7 p.m. at the Winkler Centennial Library. Ed Zacharias will speak on Plautdietsch Literacy.