Herman Konynenbelt turned 83 on Jan. 4 of this year. After breakfast, I called him for his birthday, to wish him well and commented on the fact 83 is a milestone of sorts. The biblical narrative mentions for most of us the length of our days is three-score and ten and by reason of strength, four score. Herman lived three years beyond that. Not long after his birthday, he had a massive heart attack and was taken to Foothills Hospital in Calgary.
There, he had to wait for assessments and a plan of action. He needed quintuple bypass surgery and that’s what he received. The hoped for recuperation was slow and arduous, but he was finally transferred to the Lethbridge Regional Hospital. That’s where I visited him twice, although be it very brief because his condition was precarious and he was sore and frail.
He had to cope with various bouts of pneumonia and was not able to regain his strength. He passed away on Apr. 15. Herman was a man of faith. He was laid to rest in the Monarch/Nobleford rural cemetery on Apr. 22. He has joined the many who went before him, including his brother Bert, his parents and many other extended family members.
He was an excellent teacher and administrator after completing his education at Calvin College in 1959. He started his career at Edmonton Christian East and came to Immanuel Christian in Lethbridge in 1970 and was the principal for 24 years. It was during his leadership an Early Childhood Education Program was started in the fall of 1971 and also the addition of the high school grades (1976, 1977 and 1978). This made ICS a Kindergarten through Grade 12 school. A rather unique institution for Lethbridge and area. The highest enrolment ever recorded at ICS was 684 students during the 1983-1984 school year. The next year, Taber Christian was started and a number of students transferred.
My association with Herman started the summer of 1970, when he became the new principal. I was already vice-principal at that time. He proved himself as a very able administrator and had a vision for the school. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, we were in for a period of expansion and growth, especially from the larger Christian community.
He also established a great working relationship with the Department of Education, as manifested with the local superintendency folks at Zone Six, headquartered in the Lethbridge Provincial Building — Marvin Bruce, Ed Bardock and Terry Rusnack in particular.
With our administrative colleague Mient Visser (finance, building and transportation) we worked well together and were able to feed off each other’s strengths, while being sensitive to our weaknesses. Our collective, unspoken motto was always, “We’re trying to get this done and make things work for the best education of the children under our care.”
Herman was my trusted friend and colleague and I say farewell with a heavy heart, but with a spirit that says with many others, “Well done you good and faithful servant of the Lord. Rest in peace.”
Henry Heinen, April 2017