November 29, 1931 – September 17, 2019
Rudy was born in the Bassano hospital near Crowfoot Alberta on November 29, 1931, the third of six children born to Aron and Gertrude Baerg, recent immigrants from Ukraine. It was the beginning of the Depression. Drought, grasshoppers and successive crop failures took a terrible toll. Families lived without electricity and running water. Rudy had early memories of his father directing the church choir. Also memories of breaking in wild horses. His love for horses began at an early age and by third grade he was riding his horse to school. He would lead the horse to the fencepost, step on the wires and mount his horse. By 1942 conditions had not improved, so the family relocated to an irrigation farm in Coaldale. Two railroad cars were rented to move their livestock and goods. Rudy moved from a one-classroom school to five classrooms. Even though the family had little of this world’s goods, there was always music-making in the home, banjo, guitar and mandolin; in time, also a trumpet and a piano. Growing sugar beets was heavy work. It meant coming home from school and getting into work clothes. During the war, German prisoners-of-war were stationed in Lethbridge and came to help with fieldwork. Some close relationships developed – they loved Rudy’s mom’s cooking and the ability to converse in German.
After high-school, Rudy attended Coaldale Bible School and went on to Mennonite Brethren Bible College in Winnipeg, now CMU, graduating with a Bachelor of Religious Education degree, as well as a music diploma. It was here that he met Hildegarde Hein, fell in love and married in 1958.
Rudy was intending to carry on with his education; however, when Winkler Bible School pursued him to come and teach Bible and music, he relented. The two years in Winkler were interesting times. Because the school year was only 6 months long, other work had to be found to provide income for the remaining months, i.e. picking rocks from farmer’s fields. Valerie was born in 1959 and Ron in 1961. The time in Winkler reinforced Rudy’s love for music and his desire to make this his life’s career.
So, on to study in Waterloo, Ontario, earning a BA in history. Before graduating he received a call from MEI to come and teach history and music. It didn’t take long for his wife (a B.C. girl) to say “we’re going.” In time, Randy and Ken joined the family and made it complete.
In 1968 Rudy received an invitation to join the music faculty at MBBI, now CBC. He spent 29 wonderful, rewarding years there – always calling it his “dream job.” During this time he completed a Master of Education degree at Western Washington University. He was also very handy, involved in building his own family houses, his kayak, and fashioning stained glass.
Retirement brought new joys and challenges. In 1988 MCC asked Rudy to form a choir to go to Russia. Many people, including pastors with Mennonite origins had been emigrating to Germany. They were to visit churches in five republics and bring back reports in order to send help. He also led student music groups to Europe with similar objectives.
Rudy was privileged to be the music resource person on three Mennonite Heritage cruises which led to eight terms as director along with Hildegarde at the Mennonite Centre in Molochansk Ukraine.
He and Hildegarde also enjoyed volunteering for Ten Thousand Villages, first in the Maritime provinces one fall, and then the next year in Toronto. It provided new glimpses into the work of MCC of which he was a staunch supporter throughout his life.
From all his involvements, it is obvious that Rudy loved the Lord and the church and served wherever he could.
He attributed his life to the guiding love and mercy of his Lord and Saviour. One of his favourite songs sums it up – “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning. Great is your faithfulness, O Lord. Great is your faithfulness!”
He will be greatly missed by his wife, Hildegarde, and his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Valerie & Wes Giesbrecht Tanya & Alex Nees with Henry & Eleanor Annika & Geoff Maly with Ingrid
Ron & Julie Baerg Liam Elisa
Randy & Sharon Baerg Aron & Alicia Baerg Connor & Sara Baerg Kyle Baerg
Ken & Betty Baerg Eden Jaimie
- Memorial Service Friday, October 4, 2019