Joseph Burkholder

JOSEPH NORMAN BURKHOLDER. March 26, 1929 – February 6, 2018. It is with great sadness and love that the family of Dr. Joseph N. Burkholder bids farewell to a man of integrity, vision, and wit.

 Joe, the youngest of five sons of Norman and Annie (Hoover) Burkholder, was born and raised on a family farm near Markham Ontario. From his pre-teen years, Joe felt a distinct call to serve in medical missions. As he completed his medical training at the University of Toronto in 1954,               he received an invitation to serve as physician at a small hospital administered by Eastern Mennonite Missions and Charities in Deder, Ethiopia.

In 1956 he married Helen (Witmer) of Cambridge, Ontario, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and together they worked with EMMC and established their family in Deder. In 1967, following a year of further training in Toronto, Joe taught for three years at the national public health college in the northern town of Gondar, Ethiopia, before settling with the family back in Canada in 1970. His distinguished career as Medical Officer of Health took him to Lindsay, Ontario (1970–1971); St. Catharines, Ontario (1971—1980, and 1988–1991), and Moose Jaw Saskatchewan (1980–1988).

At his retirement in 1991, Joe expanded his already active life as a volunteer: as elder and deacon in his local church; and as board member and volunteer in Gideons International, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. Marriage Encounter, and New Directions for Living. Joe enjoyed traveling—first with his young family to unexplored places in East Africa, Europe, and North America, and later with his beloved Helen to points around North America to visit children and grandchildren, attend conventions, and join organized tours. With Helen, Joe maintained long friendships with Ethiopians and other immigrants, former colleagues in Ethiopia, and international students. Throughout his life, Joe consistently promoted and modeled a commitment to Christian discipleship, a healthy lifestyle, and a devotion to the well-being of family, church, and community.

He will be sorely missed by his wife Helen; their four children and their spouses (Byron and Melita Rempel-Burkholder; Sharon Burkholder Peters and Doug Peters; Carol and Will Fick; and Geoff and Rhianon Burkholder); their nine grandchildren (Hannah and Joel Burkholder; Mark and Rachel Peters; Sarah Cain (and spouse Mathieu Cain) and Anthony Fick; and Carter, Gareth, and Emily Burkholder); and two great-grandchildren (Patrick and Ruth Cain). Joe is predeceased by his four brothers Allen, John, Elmer and Elvon. The family would like to thank the Tabor Manor Long Term Care and supportive housing staff for their wonderful care and attention.

Family will receive friends on Friday, February 9, 2018 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Fairview Community Church, 455 Geneva St., St. Catharines Ontario.  Interment will precede a memorial service at the church on Saturday, February 10, 2018 at 11:00. 


If desired, donations in Joe’s memory would be appreciated for or MCC Canada (