Martha Løkken Wagner

July 30, 1924 – December 16, 2021
It is with unimaginable sadness and heartbreak that we announce the unexpected passing of Martha Løkken Wagner (nee Andersen), who died peacefully surrounded by her family in her 98th year.
Martha was born on July 30, 1924 in Wayne, Alberta, the first of fraternal twins and second daughter of three for her Danish immigrant parents, Ingeborg Stentebjerg Andersen and Christian Løkken Andersen. The three Andersen sisters, Dorthea, Martha and Johanne, a magical triumvirate, had an idyllic childhood growing up on the farm near Dalum, a Danish farming community up the hill from East Coulee, Alberta. Although she grew up in the Depression, Martha felt it was the best of times and, with the amazing support and love of her parents and sisters, whom she adored, the family thrived on the farm. They took joy in the seasons, delighting in the wheat and barley fields of gold, and celebrating special occasions. This always included good food and song, as the three sisters loved to harmonize.
After high school in East Coulee, Martha had her heart set on becoming a nurse and enrolled at the Royal Alexandra Hospital School of Nursing in Edmonton, Class of 1946- 2 (she was thrilled to celebrate her 75th anniversary this year!). She found a sorority with her classmates that lasted a lifetime and loved nursing with her passion for people, especially the elderly, and compassion and empathy for others.
Martha’s first job was at the Calgary General Hospital, where she was an operating room nurse. She then worked at the Innisfail Hospital where she met the love of her life, John (Jack) Conway Wagner. After they married, Martha and Jack moved to Winnipeg, where Jack was taking medicine at the University of Manitoba. Martha worked at the Winnipeg General Hospital as an intravenous nurse before having her first child. Subsequent moves for Jack’s medical and surgical education followed to Vancouver and back to Winnipeg. They then moved home to Alberta and Calgary, before settling in Red Deer where Jack practiced general surgery and Martha focused on their family. When Jack decided to complete further specialization in radiology at the University of Alberta, they moved to Edmonton before returning to Red Deer for good and were lucky to enjoy 51 years together in their own home in Sunnybrook. Martha always encouraged her children to do their best and supported them in all their undertakings, even becoming Tawny Owl for the local Brownie group and later Red Deer District Commissioner for the Girl Guides of Canada. She volunteered for many causes that were important to her and the community.
Martha was an amazing daughter, sister, aunt, mother, Far Mor, friend and nurse – always taking care of, cheering on and offering support to others. Above all, her life centred around her own and extended family and when she became Far Mor to her grandchildren, Marika and Karl, she revelled in the role. Martha attended every parent-teacher interview, concert, school play and sports event for her own children and grandchildren and remembered every birthday and celebration for her extended family.
Friends were extremely important to Martha and she made them easily and kept them for a lifetime, especially the Sunnybrook neighbours. She was also very fond of friends made through the Nifty Fifties fitness group, which she attended into her nineties, and the Red Deer Senior Citizens Downtown House Happy Gang Singers. Martha enjoyed cooking and baking for others – never missing an opportunity to bring a gift of baked goods for any occasion – and her impressive talents were appreciated by all.
Martha loved nature, was astounded by its wisdom and beauty and enjoyed being immersed in it while hiking and cross-country skiing. The beauty of the trees and woods of Red Deer and the Alberta Prairies were an inspiration throughout her life and drove her creativity. Martha was an avid and accomplished watercolour landscape painter and poet and found peace and enjoyment in these pursuits. Her annual Valentine and Christmas card, featuring one of her paintings and an original poem, were treasured.
Martha was a bright shining light who was engrossed by current events, could discuss any topic and railed against injustices, especially regarding women, until the very end. She always knew who she was, an extremely proud Canadian and genuine Alberta prairie girl, and respected others for who they were. Martha was also extremely proud of her Danish heritage and took immense pleasure in speaking fluent Danish, visiting Denmark six times and keeping in close touch with her Danish relatives. Likewise, she considered her enjoyment of singing and music a great gift and always had a song in her heart and was happy to sing a song for anyone at any time. Martha’s joy for life was evident in how she lived – with generosity, passion, curiosity, integrity, courage, love, and drive – always making things happen and getting things done.
Martha was extraordinary and truly lived life to the fullest and was loved by all. She left a legacy of love and kindness to inspire us all to care more about each other and our planet – what a beautiful difference one single life made!
Martha is dearly missed by her beloved husband of 67 years (and best friend for 73 years), John, her treasured children, Susan, Mark (Angela), and Janet, grandchildren, Marika (Reid) and Karl, nieces and nephews, Don, Murray, Sharon, Ronald, Billy, Colin, Wayne, Russell and Dixie and families, brother-in-law, Flemming, and many cherished friends.
A private celebration of Martha’s life will be held for family and friends at a later date. Tributes in Martha’s memory may be made to The Danish Canadian National Museum (Dickson, Alberta), Ellis Bird Farm (Lacombe, Alberta) and/ or Red Deer Senior Citizens Downtown House.

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