Abram P. Willms: writer and minister; born 17 March 1882 in Rückenau, Molotschna Mennonite Settlement, South Russia, to Peter and Katharina (Fast) Willms. He was the middle of three children in the family. On 15 May 1903, he married Anna Reimer, daughter of Aron and Katharina (Ennz) Reimer, in Fürstenwerder, Molotschna Mennonite Settlement. The couple had 10 children, two of whom died in early childhood. Anna died in 1946, and on 27 July 1947, he married Helena (Penner) Funk, daughter of Franz and Helena (Wall) Penner. Abram died on 19 November 1959 in Coaldale, Alberta, Canada.
Abram grew up with his family in south Russia, first in Rückenau and then in Fürstenwerder, Molotschna Mennonite Settlement, where he completed his early education, also receiving private tutoring from Jakob G. Thiessen. Later, he worked as an assistant writer in the mayor’s office. On 15 June 1903, he married Anna Reimer. Abram was baptized and joined the Rückenau Mennonite Brethren Church on 11 May 1908, and in 1909, he was called to be a minister. He was ordained there on 11 February 1913 and continued to serve as a preacher in the church until his emigration; he continued his ministry in Canada, serving the church as minister for a total of 46 years.
In addition to his work as a minister, Willms served as the church secretary in his home congregation and as a Sunday School teacher in Alexanderwohl and Fürstenwerder. He was the church historian and kept a record of the major events in the life of the congregation, as well as serving as the church’s accountant. In his spare time, he would often enjoy the outdoors and write poetry about his experiences with nature.
After their marriage on 15 June 1903, Abram and his wife Anna settled into their home and began to establish their family. A daughter and a son died in early childhood, and another son died at the age of 39 as a result of a farming accident in Canada.
In 1925, Willms and his family left their home in Russia to immigrate to Canada, arriving in Acme, Alberta on 24 June. They farmed in Acme for some time before moving into Coaldale, where they joined the Coaldale Mennonite Brethren Church. Abram resumed his ministry there and preached on many occasions over the years. His wife, Anna, died in June of 1946 following surgery, and on 27 July 1947, Abram married a widow with two adult daughters, Helena Funk, in Coaldale. Abram died in 1959 in Coaldale after a lengthy illness and was buried on 24 November 1959 in the Coaldale MB cemetery.
Abram P. Willms was a dedicated farmer and church leader whose commitment to his faith and to the church served as an example for the people he encountered. Through his work as a minister and historian, as well as in the teaching and other work he did in the church, he helped to build the community and to provide a foundation of faith and commitment for the church in subsequent generations.
Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. “Willms, Abram P.” Web. 13 June 2010. http://www.mbconf.ca/home/products_and_services/resources/published_genealogies/personal_papers/willms_abram_p/.
GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 4.19 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2005: #426424.
Die Mennonitische Rundschau (26 June 1946): 5; (9 Dec. 1959): 1.
Cite This Article
Huebert, Susan. "Willms, Abram P. (1882-1959)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 2010. Web. 13 Feb 2016. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Willms,_Abram_P._(1882-1959)&oldid=86131.
Huebert, Susan. (2010). Willms, Abram P. (1882-1959). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 13 February 2016, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Willms,_Abram_P._(1882-1959)&oldid=86131.
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