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Van Gaalen, Brenda

March 24, 2024

Date of Service: April 6, 2024

BRENDA LORRAINE VAN GAALEN (née Carlson) of Lethbridge, AB, beloved wife of the late Kenneth Van Gaalen, was carried home to heaven by her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on Sunday, March 24, 2024 at the age of 77 years.

Brenda is survived by her mother, Joyce Carlson; sisters, Jill Riffe and Eileen (Ron) Swank; sister-in-law, Yvonne (Dan) McCann; children: Michael (Carolyn) Van Gaalen, Mary Joy (Bruce) Blackadder, and Eric (Sara) Van Gaalen; and beloved grandchildren: Joshua, Jessica, Serena, Kendra, and Rayla; as well as many dear family, friends, and neighbors.

Besides the love of her life, Kenneth Van Gaalen, she was predeceased by her father, Lynus Carlson; her brother, Bennett Carlson; her brother-in-law, Gary Riffe; and her sister-in-law, Sharon Van Gaalen.

Brenda was born in Winner, South Dakota during a snowstorm, and raised on the Carlson family farm in Tripp County, South Dakota, Lynus and Joyce’s oldest of four children: Jill, Bennett, and Eileen. It was an active Christian church community, where the seeds were planted for her faith, hope, and strength in the Lord Jesus. She fondly reminisced about her 4-H fairs, marching band, and keeping up with Dad (Lynus) during farm work. Brenda moved to Winner and Minneapolis during and after high school and then met Ken at Dordt College in Sioux Centre, Iowa. They were married October 7, 1966 and started their life together on their farm near Foremost, Alberta. Within a few years, new frontiers in Smithers, British Columbia offered opportunity, new adventures, and the arrival of their children Michael, Mary Joy, and Eric. During this time, Brenda earned her pilot’s license. Her brother Bennett passed away in November 1979 and was fondly remembered by Brenda and Ken. Once again, new adventures called them to Salmon Arm, British Columbia, where they worked together to build their own house and unleash their gardening skills. They worked together building and growing their fly-in fishing family business. Brenda regularly played piano for church and passed along her love for music to her children. Following her Dad’s passing in 1987 and Ken’s tragic passing in 1989, Brenda leaned on her Lord for strength and forged ahead with determination to Burdett, Alberta, where she established a successful Hereford beef cattle operation allowing her children an opportunity to try their hand at farming and ranching. In 2005, she sold the farm and moved to an acreage in Cranford, Alberta, also working as a kitchen aide at the Taber and Coaldale hospitals. In 2008, she moved to Lethbridge, Alberta, closer to some of her grandchildren. In 2009, she suffered a stroke but after a miracle recovery, resumed her passions for piano, choir, gardening, flower growing, and quilting, as well as trips back to the U.S. to visit family and friends and to have adventures with the “Keystone Girls”.

Brenda’s passion for the Lord spanned to all corners of her life, and this passion was strongly present in her sharing of special verses and the noticeable power of her prayers. She was a deep thinker, an avid reader of theology and history, and patiently and lovingly worked to pass along these traits as treasures to her children. She had a deep and peaceful connection with the Lord that was apparent in every simple gesture. While reflecting on Brenda’s life, in context of the historical authenticity of the Bible, we clearly see that merely a mustard seed of faith is required to believe that we may also receive such beautiful grace and love, freely given, from our heavenly Father, His Son Jesus, and His Holy Spirit.

If friends so desire, memorial tributes in Brenda’s name may be made directly to The Voice of the Martyrs (, The Bible League (, or Samaritan’s Purse (

Relatives and friends are invited to pay their respects at a Viewing at CORNERSTONE FUNERAL HOME, 2825 – 32 Street South, Lethbridge, AB, on Friday, April 5, 2024 from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M.

A Funeral Service will be held at CORNERSTONE FUNERAL HOME on Saturday, April 6, 2024 at 10:00 A.M. with Pastor Lloyd Kohl officiating. The Funeral Service will be live-streamed and may be viewed through Brenda’s obituary on the Cornerstone website.

Brenda will be laid to rest next to her beloved husband Ken in Highfield Cemetery.