Obituary of VENDEL KNAUS

Vendel Knaus was born to Marija Horvat and Karel Knaus in the small town of Markovci, Slovenia on December 5th 1934. He grew up on the family farm surrounded by his many brothers and sisters, Terezika, Stefan, Karel, Juliska, Agnes and Jolanka.  Even as a child Vendel simply loved to build. This began as toys and birdhouses and quickly grew to include furniture and wine barrels. Being of service and improving the lives of those around him would continue to define Vendel for the rest of his life. He was intensely proud of his community and home country of Slovenia. In Slovenia, he began major construction works, one of his favourites being the 99 steps leading up to the Bled Island church. At the age of 21 Vendel served in the Slovenian armed forces, earning a medal for sharpshooting.  Despite his love for his country, Vendel realised that there was no longer a future there for him in Slovenia. Due to the political climate at the time Vendel, accompanied by his younger sister Juliska, had to secretly make their way out of the country and into Austria on foot. Once in Austria, the trip to Canada was no small feat. After one year of labour, completing tasks such as shovelling train tracks in the dead of winter, Vendel and Juliska boarded a boat to Canada.

Upon arriving in Winnipeg, Vendel was welcomed by the Slovenian community. Through this community, he met his great love, his “golden girl”, Kristina then Zelko soon to be Knaus. On September 26th 1959, Vendel and Kristina were married at Our Lady of Fatima Church. Together they had two lovely daughters Maria and Margaret.

His drive and dedication would lead Vendel to found his own concrete company, Accurate Concrete. As Vendel would say “It’s not close enough, it’s accurate”.  Through this, Vendel could better serve those around him and provide for his growing family. Significant portions of Winnipeg remain as a testament to the quality of his work. His most recognizable project being Fort Garry Place. Even though his construction company kept him very busy, he always found time to help out his family and neighbours. Vendel poured many of the sidewalks and driveways in his neighbourhood.

Back at home, Vendel was overjoyed to walk his eldest daughter Maria down the aisle to her loving spouse Chris, on May 13th 1989. Maria and Chris later welcomed Vendel’s first grandchild David. Followed some years after by Michelle and Gregory. His youngest daughter Margaret married Guy Préfontaine on February 14th, 1998. His family grew once more with the birth of Margaret and Guy’s son Alexandre, and for a final time with the birth of Camille.

In his early seventies, Vendel retired from Accurate Concrete and became a full-time grandpa. This included; trips to Robin’s Doughnuts while we “helped” him with projects, creating doll cribs and closets for his granddaughters, and attending ice hockey games, dance recitals and rock concerts neither of which included polka music.  He supported his family no matter what, and was proud of whatever his grandchildren did no matter how small. Vendel was most content sitting in his rocking chair surrounded by his family where he would recount stories of his home country, the characters he met while in the military and his arrival to Canada. 

Vendel’s compassion did not extend only to people but to animals as well. He was the type of person who would adopt a stray cat or even take in a pigeon with a broken wing. Vendel spent his final years at Actionmarguerite St. Joseph’s. While he was there, he continued to make sure no bird would go without a home.  You could not leave a visit with him without taking home a handcrafted log cabin or birdhouse. We would like to extend our gratitude to the staff of St. Joseph’s Unit 1 for taking such good care of our grandpa.

Vendel passed away peacefully on the night of May 18th, 2024 (aged 89) surrounded by his family. Our thanks to Father Peter Nemcek for providing Vendel with his Last Rites and comforting the family with prayer. A special thank you to the staff of the 5th floor Unit 6, at Seven Oaks Hospital for making our grandfather's last few moments comfortable.

Vendel is survived by his loving wife Kristina, and sisters Juliska, Agnes and Jolanka. As well as his daughters Maria (Chris) and Margaret Préfontaine (Guy) and grandchildren David (Gloria), Michelle, Gregory (Hailey), Alexandre and Camille.

In lieu of flowers, his family asks that donations be made to Habitat for Humanity.  To honour his dedication to serving his community and love of construction. A private family ceremony will be held.

It has been difficult to convey in words the depth of Vendel’s character.  At times, his life was quite challenging and not all of his stories were happy ones, despite this, he was one of the kindest most genuine people you could ever hope to meet. He never once spoke ill of anyone, and everyone who met him was better for the meeting. Memories of Vendel will be held close to many hearts for years to come.

We love and miss you, Grandpa.

A Memorial Tree was planted for VENDEL
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at 1442 Main Street
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