John Edward Heaps

John Edward Heaps

Passed on March 18, 2024

Dad died March 18, 2024 with family at his side. He wanted to live until he couldn’t live at home anymore and then die in his sleep. He was fortunate to do exactly that. His big heart just finally stopped beating.

He had Rheumatic fever at age 12, then again at age 20, severely damaging his heart. Doctors first said he wouldn’t see age 13, never mind 21. He lived 70 plus wonderful years past their guesses. Even a death sentence of less than 6 months with metastatic melanoma couldn’t take him down 6 1/2 years ago. He beat cancer!

He loved farming, nature and his family. He was a man of great integrity. He would lend a helping hand in an instant. He could debate a topic as a gentleman should. He always listened to the other person’s side of the issue without degradation, interruption, or harsh comments. Then he would state his side of the story, and a former Stonewall lawyer said he respected John for that ability. He often swayed other’s opinions to his side but left amicably if they couldn’t reach an agreement.

He loved farming. BSE broke his heart and then, later, not being able to participate in active farming. In its place, he loved picking up Doug Freeman (nephew) from next door with his side by side and driving out to the northeast pasture to check the cattle, hoeing their immaculate acre of garden or just puttering around in the shop. He put on over 30,000 km on his side by side. It became his mobility. You’d see him going down the road, cowboy hat on; happy to check out the cattle, pastures and ditches for ducks and fish.

Dad met Mom, Helene Tesar, at friend and neighbour’s Annie Tomyk’s. He was driving the milk truck for Rockwood Victoria Coop at that time. From that moment on he wanted a good job so when he died young, Mom would have a pension to look after her. He applied to the Winnipeg Police but they told him he would have to lose 40 pounds. “Well that wasn’t going to happen,” he said. Dad was always a big, big man. So the gentleman told Dad that if he was serious and a hard worker, Headingley Gaol was hiring. Dad went out there that day and he started the very next. This was a few months before Mom and Dad married.

He spent the first 7 1/2 years as a guard walking the floor around the cages. Then he was moved to the Farm for eight years. When on the farm he had his own gang (31 men) to take outside. They cut wood, hoed the large field gardens and even worked on the highway/ditches out to Brandon. He never had a convict escape while they were out. He was even given other guard’s gangs to supervise.

He later was moved to the Bursar’s office in accounting. He ordered the supplies for the institution, handled the inmates pay, and their canteen, along with various other duties. He developed the sports programs and the handicraft department. Even then if there was a problem anywhere in the jail, he was called out of accounting to deal with it. He was great at mediation.

When he retired, Mom and him continued farming and working around the yard, with him hoeing a very large garden even in 2023. The garden and yard were always pristine. Food was also very important. He never lost his large appetite. He loved his French fries and fish down at the shop. A big thank you to niece Sherri Freeman for all her wonderful baking over the years. He always had plenty of goodies to choose from for coffee. A plate of potatoes was never spoiled either! Dad, MJ and Izabella said you could never ruin a potato or leave a spoonful behind, but you could ruin carrots.

Dad was born a twin on the home farm to parents Elizabeth and John. His twin didn’t survive. He was predeceased by all his siblings, Bill, Bob, Isabell Martini and Jim. Dad and Mom were fortunate to live on the farm their whole lives. Dad and Mom had tragedy strike when their first born Lori died at 6 weeks of SIDS. Later Vera (George Appleyard) then John (MJ) completed the family. Soon grandchildren Matthew (Lucas, Athan, Izabella, Alma, Angel, Diego), Amber (Travis Lawrence, Rustyn Hayes), Mackenzie (Corrine) and lots of granddogs came along to join in the fun. Dad and Mom were together for over 65 years before Mom died in 2017.

He left a huge hole in all our lives. He is so sadly missed by his kids, grandkids, many nieces and nephews and wonderful friends.

A private family service has been held.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to South West District Palliative Care, Inc. Box 1282 Stonewall, MB.


Sending condolences to Vera, John and families. “Uncle John” was truly a gentle giant, his was a life well lived. When I think of him it is with a smile on his face, and that great laugh!

Sandy Mosalowski

John was a good friend and wonderful man. Henry Fast

Henry Fast

To the Appleyards I send my love and condolences to one and all . :) Never got the time but would have loved to spend more time. Loved the few conversations that we had , always had the golden smile which I cheerish in people . Take care John in the next realm, I am sure that your love hear will be shared there as well.

wally bychuk

I am so sorry to hear of John's passing. He was a good friend. Our condolences to all the family. May his memory be a blessing.

Margaret Martini

Our condolences to the family 💔💔 Yes he was a terrific fellow with a big heart ♥️


Our heartfelt condolences and prayers are with you Vera, George and all your family. What a wonderful life he had and a great legacy he left in all his children and grandchildren. Thinking of you 🙏

Marleen Coulter

He was a sweet and gentle giant with heart so big. He will always be in our memories. I prayers for the family as their grief heals

Linda Jensen and family

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