Born, Esther Annie Brandt (1923-2014)

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Esther and Henry Born.

Esther Annie Brandt Born: missionary, teacher, and archivist; born 16 January 1923 in Melba, Manitoba, Canada, the first daughter of John K. Brandt and Anna (Thiessen) Brandt. Esther was the third in a family of twelve. Esther married Henry Born on 26 July 1945 in Winkler, Manitoba and they had three daughters: Julia, Naomi, and Rebecca. Esther died on 18 March 2014 in Mission, British Columbia.

As a youth, Esther’s family moved between Saskatchewan and Manitoba while her father taught in various schools. Her tomboy years came to a sudden end when, at age 12, she contracted osteomyelitis. This was before penicillin was available; she spent several years in and out of hospitals. Doctors gave her no hope of ever walking again, but with much prayer by many people and with the help homeopathic remedies, Esther recovered and was able to live a full, active life. Her attitude and resilience during her illness affected her entire approach to life.

In hospital Esther committed her life to God to be used in whatever way God saw fit. After some piano lessons Esther often accompanied her father`s school choirs and frequently taught piano. After graduating from Mennonite Collegiate Institute in Gretna, Manitoba, she went on to take teacher training at Wesley College (now the University of Winnipeg). In Winnipeg she lived at the Mary-Martha Home and became involved in the North End Mennonite Brethren Church, where she was baptized.

While teaching at Seven Sisters and Thalberg, Manitoba, Esther was being courted by her future husband, Henry Born, a young man working in Reinland, Manitoba. After some personal struggles the couple married in 1945.

Esther and Henry attended Elim Bible Institute in Altona, Manitoba and then in 1947 moved to Winnipeg to attend Mennonite Brethren Bible College. After graduating in 1949, the Borns moved to Chilliwack, British Columbia (BC), where Henry became an instructor at the East Chilliwack Mennonite Brethren Bible School. The family then went to Hillsboro, Kansas where Henry completed his B.Ed. at Tabor College.

The Mennonite Brethren (MB) Board of Welfare and Public Relations asked Henry and Esther to move to Volendam, Paraguay to teach in the high school and assist in the fledgling MB Church. Esther soon started a Women’s Sewing Circle. Esther counselled many women traumatized by the refugee experiences from World War II and also put her musical skills to use playing the pump organ at church and leading a women`s choir. Her work was recognized in a letter of appreciation from the MB Board.

The Board of Welfare and Public Relations sent the Borns to various locations. They worked in the Chaco settlement of Filadelfia, Paraguay where Esther taught piano and guided an instrumental group. In Curitiba, Brazil, she taught kindergarten in the International Co-op School and in Linz, Austria, she taught English. During a two-year stay in Quito, Ecuador, she and Henry worked in the German Department at the HCJB radio station. Wherever she lived, she gave talks to many ladies aid groups, missionary rallies, and other organizations about her cross cultural experiences and of her personal relationship with God.

In Hillsboro, Kansas, while Henry pastored, Esther worked in the Tabor College Library, took college courses, and worked at Parkside Homes (a seniors housing complex). After they came to the Fraser Valley in BC, where Henry both pastored and taught at Mennonite Brethren Bible Institute, Esther took courses at Fraser Valley College and also taught German at the College. She continued with her public speaking to Women`s Groups. The Borns took in several foster children and Esther was President of the P.T.A. at the school her daughters attended. In Abbotsford and Mission, BC, she was a substitute teacher for many years.

Possibly the most recognizable achievement began in 1986 when Esther became archivist of the fledging Mennonite Archive Centre housed at Columbia Bible College. Collecting archival materials and genealogies became Esther`s passion as she wrote many histories of local MB Churches. When more archive space was needed, the archival collection was moved to the Garden Park Towers, Abbotsford and incorporated into the archives of the Mennonite Historical Society of British Columbia. Shortly after this move, Esther retired from administrative duties and focused her attention on genealogical studies, publishing books dealing with the Brandt and Thiessen families.

Her later years were filled with sorting and documenting family papers from Henry`s ministries and their mission efforts together. When her osteomyelitis returned it affected her mobility but she still insisted on an (almost) daily walk (even with a walker) to the local McDonald`s for a cup of coffee and a visit with friends.

Esther succumbed to her cancer in 2014 while staying at the Christine Morrison Hospice in Mission, BC. She had been able to celebrate 91 years of life—a full and rich life; a life of activity and ministry that the medical personnel had deemed impossible.

Author(s) Gilbert G Brandt
Date Published November 2014

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MLA style

Brandt, Gilbert G. "Born, Esther Annie Brandt (1923-2014)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2014. Web. 2 Dec 2023.,_Esther_Annie_Brandt_(1923-2014)&oldid=172890.

APA style

Brandt, Gilbert G. (November 2014). Born, Esther Annie Brandt (1923-2014). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 2 December 2023, from,_Esther_Annie_Brandt_(1923-2014)&oldid=172890.

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