Goossen, Henry H. (1916-1970)

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Henry H. Goossen: entrepreneur, community organizer, philanthropist; born 2 January 1916 in Alexandertal, Molotschna Mennonite Settlement, South Russia to Heinrich H. Goossen (1880-1968) and Katarina (Koop) Goossen (1883-1950). Henry was the second of four children. Henry H. Goossen married Katharina "Teenie" Braun (30 August 1916, Altona, Manitoba, Canada - 20 June 2001, Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada) on 23 September, 1939. Henry and Teenie had three children: Henry Alvin, Gloria Jean, and Grace Katherine. Henry Goossen died in Chilliwack, British Columbia on 14 July 1970.

Henry Goossen’s father, Heinrich H. Goossen, was a minister in South Russia and hence was a particular target during the anarchy that followed the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The family hoped to immigrate to Canada but circumstances prevented that from happening. They managed to reach Mexico in 1924. Conditions here were not favorable, however: farming was difficult and a revolutionary situation was developing. Two years after their arrival, the Goossen family were able to procure immigration papers for Canada. Henry’s father invested in farmland south of Plum Coulee, in the Winkler area of Manitoba. Hoping to salvage the funds necessary for his children’s education, Heinrich sold the farm and moved his family to Manitou, Manitoba. Here Henry Jr. graduated from Grade 12 and then attended Normal School in Winnipeg from 1936-1937. He taught school for five years in southern Manitoba.

Henry married Katherina "Teenie" Braun in 1939, and moved to Yarrow, British Columbia with his wife and son Henry Alvin in 1943. He tried farming and worked as a laborer in hop yards and nurseries, but was too ambitious and talented to stay with manual labor for long. In 1943 he became assistant manager at Yarrow Growers’ Cooperative Union. After 18 months in this position, Goossen’s ambitions took flight as he entered the entrepreneurial domain: he purchased the Yarrow Box Factory, and then entered a business partnership with Jacob P. Martens and Jacob J. Jantzen to run Central Merchants’ Hardware, eventually selling the box factory in order to focus on the store. Meanwhile, believing Yarrow would be his home well into the future, he built a house there. In 1948 Goossen, along with business partners, started Sunripe Fruit Packers Ltd; Goossen managed the firm for two years. In 1948 Goossen bought the Chilliwack Taxi and Cunningham Taxi businesses; and in 1953, Henderson’s Ambulance Service.

Goossen was also involved in community organizations, serving as chair of Yarrow Waterworks. In 1953 he was chair of the 25th anniversary celebrations for the founding of the village of Yarrow. Goossen, however, looked beyond his local community, sitting on the hospital board in Chilliwack and on the Chilliwack Board of Trade, as well as working with the committee of the British Empire Games that took place in Vancouver in 1954. More significantly, Goossen began his work with people with mental disabilities, serving as executive member and then as president of the Upper Fraser Valley Society for Handicapped Children. Goossen early became involved in providing transportation for individuals with mental disabilities to the Sunshine Drive School in Chilliwack. Henry and Teenie themselves had a physically disabled daughter.

Henry Goossen was a peripheral member of the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church and did not frequently attend. As an individual looking outwards from his ethnoreligious group, he was among the first Mennonites in Yarrow to purchase a television set. Though still doggedly loyal to the Mennonite community of Yarrow, in the late 1950s he moved to Chilliwack, where he was freer to pursue his financial and political ambitions. Goossen ran as a provincial Liberal candidate in 1956, at a time when politics was generally regarded by Mennonites with suspicion. His entry into politics also came at an odd time: in the 1956 election, Goossen had no chance of winning against the Social Credit juggernaut. Nevertheless, Henry and Teenie Goossen were members of the Broadway Mennonite Brethren Church in Chilliwack.

Henry Goossen was a prominent leader in the effort to provide support to children with mental disabilities as well as to their parents. Besides his involvement with the Upper Fraser Valley Society for Handicapped Children, Goossen was a leader in the establishment of three institutions for people with mental disabilities: the Sunshine School for Retarded Children; the Hostel for the Handicapped, a short-term stay centre for children with disabilities whose parents were temporarily unable to care for them; and the Adult Occupation Centre. Goossen was president for three years of the Provincial Association for Retarded Children and later served on the Canadian equivalent. Throughout these years, Goossen tirelessly engaged in fundraising in order to keep these centers open and running.

Goossen died suddenly and unexpectedly at his Chilliwack home on 14 July 1970. He was described in The Chilliwack Progress as a man who was "always smiling, quick with a laugh, always an optimist." Teenie Goossen died in 2001.


Andres, Peter. "People with Disabilities in Yarrow: Changing the World at Its Roots." Windows to a Village: Life Studies of Yarrow Pioneers, ed. by Robert Martens, Maryann Tjart Jantzen and Harvey Neufeldt. Kitchener, ON: Pandora Press, 2007: 255-270.

The Chilliwack Progress (3 June 1953); (20 Jan 1954); (29 Aug 1956); (12 Sep 1956); (30 Oct 1957); (9 May 1961); (21 Nov 1961); (11 Apr 1962); (22 July 1970); (24 June 2001).

GRANDMA = GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 17-09 ed. Fresno, CA: " California Mennonite Historical Society, 2017: #194388.

Lenzmann, Edward. "Henry Goossen." Personal e-mail (22 Dec 2017), (7 Jan 2018).

Author(s) Robert Martens
Date Published April 2018

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Martens, Robert. "Goossen, Henry H. (1916-1970)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. April 2018. Web. 20 Sep 2020.,_Henry_H._(1916-1970)&oldid=160288.

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Martens, Robert. (April 2018). Goossen, Henry H. (1916-1970). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 September 2020, from,_Henry_H._(1916-1970)&oldid=160288.

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