On November 11, 2020 Jake passed away peacefully at home with his wife Irene at his side and his children Bruce with his wife Debbie, Rhonda, and Sharlene present via Zoom.
Jake will be remembered as a man with a strong faith that inspired him to take on what he sensed God was calling him to do. This approach to life influenced how he treated his employees and customers as owner and manager of Robertson Seeds, how he treated the boys and staff at Youth Orientation Units (YOU) where he was the director, as well as how he served in many programs and ministries of the local and broader Mennonite Church. He also heard the call to help many different individuals and families as their needs became known.
Jake was part of the beginning of several programs over his life, including being a charter member of First Mennonite Church where he and Irene have attended, sang in the choir, and served in various capacities. Jake was involved with YOU for many years prior to taking on the job of Director. He was on the board, served as Treasurer, and was a big part of supporting Peter Rempel in his leadership.
Together Jake & Irene participated in individual and group sponsorships of many refugees over the years, and Jake taught many of them to drive, helped them find jobs and ensured they had a place to live. Jake and Irene were part of the beginning of The Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, with the initial planning occurring in their living room. Jake also helped numerous individuals with whatever they required. Many people knew that it only took one call to get the help they needed. This included his grandchildren, who could count on grandpa for rides to where they needed to go, support at special events, concerts, and sporting activities, as well as help with any repairs required.
When they moved to their new home, he built fences and decks for many of their newfound neighbors. They made sure to meet everyone and even invite them all to their home. He also became a fixture at Shar and Steve’s acreage as “the Jake”. He cut down trees, helped with splitting wood, and generally participated in whatever major building project was going on, many times exhausting the much younger helpers that were involved.
Music was always important to Jake and his family. Singing was part of family gatherings and their annual multi-family parties. Jake also sang for the founder of Richard Eaton singers in the University Singers prior to it being renamed The Richard Eaton Singers. He was a constant member of the church choir, participating right up to it being paused due to the pandemic.
Jake treated everyone with respect and loved being with people, working with people and simply being present. He was always looking for ways to help everyone to listen well, to get along and to be the best they could be.
He will be missed by his wife of 62 years Irene, his son Bruce (Debbie), daughter Rhonda, daughter Sharlene (Steve), grandchildren Cara, Alyson (Aaron), Sean (Tiffanie), Larissa (Clemens), Charlie, David (Lisa) and 3 great grandsons and one great granddaughter.
The family is grateful for all of the support they have received from friends, neighbors and family, the church and more recently the care given by homecare professionals and medical staff too numerous to name. All of this wonderful support enabled Irene to be able to care for Jake at home.
There will be a celebration of life via Zoom on November 21. Contact family members or First Mennonite Church for details.
Donations are welcome to be made in his name to Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers or MCC (Alberta).
Serenity Funeral Service – South Edmonton, (780)450-0101