John Bargen

Oct. 12, 1923 – Nov. 20, 2017
“Your gifts are in your hands, John, use them to serve the Lord,” said a wise friend, and so he did.

John David Bargen, age 94, beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, went peacefully to his heavenly home to be with his Redeemer Lord on Nov. 20, 2017, surrounded by his family.

John was the oldest son born to German Mennonite parents in the Ukraine on Oct. 12, 1923. His father, seeing the serious threat to their lives if they stayed, moved his family to Alberta, Canada, when John was 2 years old. His father, seeking better weather and opportunities, visited Yarrow, B.C., and found cattle grazing in February, and made haste to bring his family to this beautiful area. During John’s childhood years his family hosted many families moving into the area until those families were established.

John attended school in the Chilliwack area, including a year of Bible school. His father was a builder and John enjoyed carpentry. He was the best roof “shingler” at age 15, getting the highest pay at the time, $.25 a bundle. John had a creative mind. He enjoyed building, making “the foundation.” His contractor dad threw the level away, saying, “John’s eye is better than a level.”

A Sunday afternoon listening on the radio to the Old Fashioned Revival Hour made him aware of his sin and need of forgiveness through the Savior’s gift on the cross. John responded in faith and shared that faith with others all his life. He served during World War II with the Canadian army. When the war ended, he saw a young lady in the choir that he wanted to know and joined the choir so he could take her home on the street car. He married Katherine Peters in 1946 and together they raised three children: Elaine, Ted and Jayne.

During the 1948 flood of the Fraser River, many homes needed their doors replaced, and so began John’s ventures into door-making with one press that made 21 doors a day, followed by the founding of Bargen Brothers Woodworks Limited in Richmond, B.C., and later Lynden Door Inc. in Lynden, which makes many more doors per day.

At a crossroad in his life when the door company in Canada burned to the ground, he made a decision to focus on building for the Lord, so the door plant was rebuilt. He also gave his energies to help build several area churches as well as serving on the local Christian Businessmen’s Committee, the steering committee for the Billy Graham crusade in Vancouver, B.C., the Gideons, and the Canadian board of the Luis Palau Association. He made tract racks to hold Christian literature and placed them in the many sawmills along the Fraser River, and kept them supplied.

Shortly before their move to the U.S. in the mid-1970s, John bought a ranch on Minaker Road where they raised his herd of cattle. Friends encouraged them to use the beautiful property for a retreat center and shortly thereafter they founded Cedar Springs Christian Retreat Center where he spent 30 years using the gift that was in his hands to build, create, plant flower beds, arrange “water works,” feed the swans on the pond, all for the joy of others and the glory of God. He was a man who would rather do something than say something, and he influenced many by his humble servant ways.

In 1993, he married Jeannie Byle, who served alongside him at Cedar Springs. He enjoyed running his sawmill and hand marked all the logs and timber on his forest land for their log home that he designed. He dried the lumber in the dry kiln he had made. When people asked if he was retiring, he immediately responded “retirement is not in the Bible.” He loved his family and was delighted that the phone book listing of Bargens was getting longer.

He is survived by his wife Jeannie; son Ted Bargen (Sandi) and grandchildren Chris (Shelly), Cheri, Heidi (John Slagle), Nic (Ashli) and Jonathan, all of Lynden; daughter Jayne (Mark Brewster) of Lewiston, Idaho, and grandchildren Michelle (Brian Schmidt), Dave (Jamie), Janae and Kaylee; 15 great-grandchildren Isaiah, Jasmine, Kara, Benjamin, Adeline, Andrew, Elizabeth, Nathaniel, Jacob, Abigail, Daniel, Elena, Siena, Noah, Aydan Ford; stepchildren David Byle (Ullie), Warren Byle (Julie), and Carma (Ken Pimento), and step-grandchildren Sarah, Anna, Micaela, Olivia, Johannes, Rebecca, Esther, Amy and Daniel; his brother Art Bargen; and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Katherine, in 1988; his parents; his brother Pete; daughter Elaine; two infant daughters, Joyce and Marie; and sister-in-law Ellie Bargen.

We are thankful for the wonderful home caregivers and good Hospice nurses who helped care for John.

A public viewing will be from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 30, in Gillies Funeral Home, 202 Front St., Lynden. A memorial service will be at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, in the Cedar Springs Christian Retreat Center, 4700 Minaker Rd. south of Sumas. A private family graveside service will be held in Abbotsford, B.C, on Saturday morning.

In lieu of flowers, remembrance gifts may be given to Cedar Springs Christian Retreat Center, 4700 Minaker Rd., Sumas, WA 98295.

Please share your condolences and memories in the online guestbook at

Arrangements are entrusted to Gillies Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Lynden.