Sawatzky, Waldo “Wally” (1939-2021)

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Wally Sawatzky (1939-2021)

Waldo "Wally" Arnold Sawatzky: educator and lay preacher; born 19 February 1939 in Coaldale, Alberta, Canada to Bernhard W. Sawatzky (13 January 1906, Russia – 9 February 1974, Edmonton, Alberta) and Helen Caroline (Sawatzky) Sawatzky (14 January 1914, Aberdeen, Saskatchewan, Canada – 5 July 1990, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada); the third of five children. On 31 May 1964, Wally married Velma Lundgren. They had three children: Cheryll, Wendy, and Cameron. Wally passed away in Port Moody, British Columbia on 16 February 2021, due to pulmonary fibrosis, which was compounded by Sjögren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease.

After high school, Wally attended Coaldale Bible School, and in 1957, moved to Edmonton with his parents, where they established a home church which would become Lendrum Mennonite Brethren Church. Here, Wally was actively involved, including preaching the occasional sermon. In 1964, Wally graduated from the University of Alberta with his Bachelor of Education and began his first year of teaching that same year. In 1969, he received an MEd in Administration from the University of Alberta.

In 1979, the family moved to Abbotsford, BC after Wally was offered the position of principal at Mennonite Educational Institute (MEI). The Sawatzkys were members of South Abbotsford Mennonite Brethren Church, where Wally was involved on the pulpit committee, sang in the church choir, and preached occasionally.

Wally provided important leadership at MEI during a time of school relocation, transitioning, and tremendous growth. During his tenure, the first of two additions was built, providing a significantly increased student capacity.

During his leadership, the school expanded its academic and non-academic course offerings. This expansion, along with Wally’s recruitment of quality teachers, enhanced the school’s appeal beyond the Mennonite faith community. While he encouraged other Mennonite churches to join the MEI Society, the school also reached into the community in a more focused way during his tenure, and as a result, the student body became more diverse. Long waiting lists for registration became common.

Wally Sawatzky was a teacher’s principal. Staff was made to feel that the integrity of their respective classrooms would be respected. He advocated for staff and guarded against board intrusion into the classrooms. Students, parents, and board were important, but staff took priority.

In addition to being principal of MEI, Wally served on the Federation of Independent Schools in British Columbia (FISA BC) board from 1981 – 1988, first as secretary and then as president. Both before and after retirement, Wally enjoyed marking English provincial exams and serving as independent school inspector for the Ministry of Education.

In June 1990, Wally stepped back from the position of principal, and returned to the classroom as a Grades 11 and 12 English teacher until his retirement in 2000. That year, he and Velma moved to Pender Island, where they became actively involved in the Pender Island Community Church; Wally’s activities included preaching.

In 2016, Wally and Velma relocated to Pitt Meadows, BC, and attended Eagle Ridge Bible Fellowship, where Wally served as board member. They would continue to go back and forth to Pender Island, since Wally was an occasional guest speaker at the Pender Island Church and the couple loved to visit with their friends.

Wally enjoyed the outdoors, going for walks, bike rides, and playing disc golf. Among his hobbies, he honed his woodworking skills, experimenting with different kinds of wood while making beautiful jewelry boxes, bowls, goblets, and larger furniture pieces. He also enjoyed home renovations, playing cribbage, and doing puzzles in his leisure time. He loved meeting family or friends for coffee or lunch. He was also very faithful in texting his children and grandchildren almost every day with a little verse of encouragement or a picture to make them laugh.

Wally Sawatzky was an academic, educator, church worker, family man and friend. He will be fondly remembered for the twinkle in his eye; for being a gracious disciplinarian, an encourager, a faithful prayer warrior, and a champion of the "underdog;" for his imaginative lessons and devotions; and as someone who made everyone he met feel special.


GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 21-01 ed. Fresno, CA: " California Mennonite Historical Society, 2021: 956548.

"Waldo Arnold ‘Wally’ Sawatzky." The Abbotsford News (16 February 2021). Web. 12 April 2021.

Author(s) David F Loewen
Date Published May 2021

Cite This Article

MLA style

Loewen, David F. "Sawatzky, Waldo “Wally” (1939-2021)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2021. Web. 2 Oct 2023.,_Waldo_%E2%80%9CWally%E2%80%9D_(1939-2021)&oldid=171418.

APA style

Loewen, David F. (May 2021). Sawatzky, Waldo “Wally” (1939-2021). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 2 October 2023, from,_Waldo_%E2%80%9CWally%E2%80%9D_(1939-2021)&oldid=171418.

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