Thomson Funeral Home


Rev. John Edward Robertson

24 August, 195514 March, 2021

"He was witty, fun, caring and compassionate."

It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of Rev. John Robertson – spouse, foster father, brother, uncle, cousin, in-law and friend.

John was born in Edmonton, Alberta, the first adopted son of Jack and Norah (Johnson) Robertson. His adoptive parents; his nieces Angel and Chantel, his brother Shane and several aunts and uncles predeceased him.

Left to remember his life are his spouse of 41 years, Rev. Ken DeLisle; foster children Shell, Victoria Flett, Abe Rampl, Chris Moehling, Shayna Keesic, Jamie (Lacey) Murphy, Johnathan Kopchuk and Frank; and very close friend and companion, Aileen Urquhart.

He will also be remembered by his sisters Margaret Forkheim and Mary Jane (Michael) Jackson and brothers Mark (Peggy), Charles (Jana), and David.

John’s birth mother, Donna Blanchard and John were reunited several decades ago, introducing John and Ken and their family to other sisters and a brother. Susan (Claus) Gehrig, Alice (Bill) Waldie, Kristina (Greg) Hall and Sandy (Bella) Janum.

Donna also married John MacNaughton and his daughters Gail, Maggie and Carol were added to the family.

He will also be missed by his in-laws Calvin and Brian (Noella) and sister Bonnie (Terry) and several nephews and nieces from all the families.

John graduated with a BA from the University of Calgary in Special Education; and later became an Ordained Minister in the United Church of Canada (2005) through the In Community Program for Ordination at the University of Winnipeg.

After graduation from the University of Calgary he worked with children in palliative care at the Foothills Hospital. In 1978, his job was phased out and he moved to Winnipeg to be with his soulmate, Ken. John spent some time as Secretary (and helpful mediator) with Young United Church at the time when Young joined with five other organizations to form Crossways In Common. He then worked with the Society for Manitoba with Disabilities until he decided to leave to become a minister.

Most of his ministry was with United Churches in Beausejour, Pine Falls and Stonewall, as well as short stays or pulpit supply in many other congregations. He and Ken were also the first staff hired to work in the Rainbow Ministry of Winnipeg Presbytery.

He served on several Presbytery Committees and was currently serving on the Executive of Prairie to Pine Regional Council.

John was also an accomplished and wonderful harpist. He played at the Velvet Glove for several years and played more weddings than he performed as a minister!

He met Ken on May 27, 1978 in Ottawa at the first Dignity/Canada/ Dignite conference. It was truly love at first site and a year to the date they held a Witnessing at the University of Winnipeg Chapel. Their picture of the event became part of an exhibition at the Museum of Human Rights on same gender marriage.

One of his greatest joys was being a parent and when things got rough with one of his children, he just told himself, “Buck up. You wanted to be a parent. This is what a parent does.” He loved them all. Abe became a true son as well as a caretaker in Ken and John’s older years.

John was a marvellous cook, loved tea and all things British. He was witty, fun, caring and compassionate. Many remember him fondly in his top hat and cape. He adored his pet cockatoo, Oscar, who laughs like Elmo and screeches as loud as a 747 engine (that is true, not an exaggeration). Goldie, the best mouser ever, will also miss him.

His goal in life was to help others love themselves. He wanted everyone to know they are loved and lovable. This desire sprang from his faith.

To honour John, help someone. Be kind to all. Contribute to your favourite justice-seeking committee. Or make a donation to the Red Cross, the Centre for Christian Studies, Rainbow Harmony Project, Affirm United or the Diakonia of the United Church of Canada.

John has been cremated and a celebration will take place when the borders are open so that friends and families will be able to attend.

Blessings and peace to a gentle soul.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Rev. John Edward Robertson

have a memory or condolence to add?

Bruce Jacobs

31 March 2021

Our condolences to Ken:
Beverley and I have fond memories of John at both Fort Garry United Church and at Crossways. It was always a special treat when John played his harp.
We miss him.
Bruce and Beverley Jacobs

Beth Clark

26 March 2021

I loved John's great sense of humour. I remember a time when we were on the same flight to Denver. My friends and I left the plane before John and Ken who soon appeared with John in a wheelchair. As they went on the way, John waved to us and others while calling out "Make way for the queen". Ken followed with a big smile.

I admired John and Ken's dedication to their children as we swapped stories of teenaged children at an Annual Meeting in Winnipeg.

My condolences to Ken and their families. In the words of the United Church creed “In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us, we are not alone. Thanks be to God”. Amen.

Darilyn Grigg

26 March 2021

You my not remember me but I was in The Western Field base Program 95, Joann introduce us and I received such wonder hospitality. I will remember this gift from you and your partner forever . May you know that he will be remember. I will pray for you as you must have such good memory. We adopted a child who was not going to live because every one deserves some one to honor a life with their sadness, I know you will honor him always, But for now be good to yourself. I am truly sorry

Mary Kalberg

24 March 2021

My heartfelt condolences to Ken on the loss of his beloved John. While I did not know him that well, I felt blessed to be able to count him as a friend -- one of the highlights of being at Conference was always the visit with John, catching up and sharing stories. He will be missed.

Terry Cooke

23 March 2021

It is hard to realize that John is no longer with us on earth, but I believe he will always be with us, in our hearts and in the love of his family and many friends. My heart and prayers are with Ken and with their family.

The last time I saw you both Ken, was at Manitoba Theatre Centre and then COVID changed all our lives. During this difficult time of isolation and life changes, John's cheery FB posts, pictures of comfort food and teacups, and otter videos-shared added cheer to some days that were harder than others. I was looking forward to the hope of sharing tea and sunshine in the days ahead.

The most beautiful memory I have of John is when he played the harp at The Faculty of Education Alumni Homecoming. John's music and beautiful presence have been remembered all these years later. Another dear memory is his quotes of St. Julian of Norwich. My own younger brother who passed also in March, but two years ago now, read and quoted St Julian and spoke of her often in his last year - John was very like my brother in so many ways. I think they would have had some good chats if they had known each other.

Heartfelt sympathy to Ken, their family, and friends. John is unforgettable and always close.

Beverley Wolfe

23 March 2021

On behalf of MacGregor United Church , would like to express our condolences to Ken on his loss. .
On a personal level, I also send condolences. The last time I saw either of you was at a cantata in Stonewall.

Cathie Waldie

22 March 2021

Dear Ken and family,
I was so sorry to learn of the death of your beloved John. As a colleague in ministry, I appreciated his love of the Celtic tradition and how he brought it alive for others. John was so easy to talk to, making it feel like you'd known him forever. His death will leave a huge void in your hearts and lives, but I hope you will be sustained by the love, faith and strength of community surrounding you.
Holding you in my prayers for healing, light and peace,

Bette Jayne Taylor

22 March 2021

I was so sad to hear of John's passing. Conversations with him were marked with wit and compassion. I always sensed that he was genuinely interested in connecting with and listening to others. That is a gift we will all miss.


21 March 2021

Ken and family,
John was our minister at St Paul’s United in Beausejour for 15 years. I will remember him fondly for the sermons he spoke from the heart. I am remembering his Celtic prayers, and the funerals where he brought healing by comparing grieve to a rock you carry in your pocket.
John entertained the congregation with his harp and also with his cockatoo. This bird had a reputation for eating John’s spectacles while he napped!
Thanks for the memories John.
Lorene Stepaniuk

Pat Hammell

21 March 2021

Dear Ken,
Please accept my sincere sympathy on the very sad loss of John. It was such a pleasure to be part of the worship he led Jan. 31. Love Pat

From the Family