Neumann, Cornelius “Neil” Henry (1927-2010)

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Neil Neumann (1927-2010)

Cornelius "Neil" Henry Neumann: realtor, notary public, business leader, and churchman; born 14 December 1927 in Spy Hill, Saskatchewan, to Heinrich Dietrich Neumann (30 July 1885, Sparrau, Molotschna, Russia – 21 June 1955, Chilliwack, British Columbia) and Sara (Wiebe) Neumann (14 July 1890, Blumenfeld, Russia – 13 July 1958, Chilliwack, British Columbia); the twelfth of sixteen children (siblings included David, John, and Margaret). On 15 May 1949, Neil married Herta Sawatzky (3 April 1924 – 30 April 2015), daughter of Heinrich Jakob Sawatzky (1894-1936) and Helena (Paetkau) Sawatzky (1894-1939). They had three children: Valerie, Brian, and Derek. On 31 August 2010, after a short illness, Neil passed away in Vancouver, British Columbia.

In 1932, six years after emigrating from Russia, the family moved from Bredenbury, Saskatchewan, to Gem, Alberta, where Neil spent his early school years while also working on the family farm. In 1943, while still living in Gem, Neil was baptized on the confession of his faith. In 1945, the family moved to Sardis, British Columbia. Here Neil completed his high school education by correspondence over the next few years, while working and starting a family, and in 1947 he and Herta moved to Vancouver.

Neil was very much a self-made man, and work was always an energizing part of his life. One of his first jobs away from home was at a Vancouver sawmill. When times were tough, he sold magazines door-to-door so he could feed his young family. The family moved several times within Greater Vancouver as he built several houses to accumulate some equity – "to get ahead," he coined it. In the 1950s he obtained his real estate sales license, and this led to a long, successful career in both residential and commercial real estate. Eventually he became vice-president of Block Brothers Industries and then president of the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board. During his presidency, he travelled to Ottawa to lobby the federal government for property rights to be enshrined in the Canadian Constitution, and met with then Premier Mike Harcourt for the same purpose. Neil semi-retired at age sixty and worked as a notary public until full retirement.

Neil and Herta were involved in two Mennonite Brethren churches over their adult years: Fraserview and Killarney Park. Neil sang in church choir and served in Christian Education, DVBS (Daily Vacation Bible School), on several church boards, and as moderator. Neil enjoyed reading, gardening, and family gatherings. Church and family were the central parts of Neil and Herta’s personal lives and their very active social life. Their faith in God and belief in the Christian community as the center of their lives was clear to all who met them.

The family put down long-term roots in the Dunbar/Kerrisdale area of Vancouver in the late 1960s. For the most part, these were good years, but towards the end, legal battles with the owners of their leased property cast a shadow on Neil’s retirement years. At about the same time, Herta was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. This took its toll on Neil, not only from exhaustion from being her main caregiver, but from losing his life’s companion. Herta was with him in body, but not in spirit, and grieving this loss was very difficult.

Neil Neumann was generous with family and friends with his expertise in real estate and as a notary public. He will be remembered for his sense of humor and how he embraced life with great positivity.

Author(s) Dave Loewen
Date Published March 2021

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MLA style

Loewen, Dave. "Neumann, Cornelius “Neil” Henry (1927-2010)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2021. Web. 20 Jul 2024.,_Cornelius_%E2%80%9CNeil%E2%80%9D_Henry_(1927-2010)&oldid=171182.

APA style

Loewen, Dave. (March 2021). Neumann, Cornelius “Neil” Henry (1927-2010). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 July 2024, from,_Cornelius_%E2%80%9CNeil%E2%80%9D_Henry_(1927-2010)&oldid=171182.

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