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Memorable Manitobans: Abraham Hiebert “Abram” Wiebe (1892-1979)

Educator, biologist.

Born on in the Rural Municipality of Hanover on 1 September 1892, 19th of 25 children to Jakob Wiebe (1835-1914) and his second wife, Katharina Hiebert, he grew up at Bergfeld in the Mennonite East Reserve, and later at Old Barkfield. He attended a local German-language school and spoke almost no English until, at the age of 20, he went to Steinbach seeking employment. He was hired as a clerk at K. Reimer’s Sons’s shop and attended night classes to improve his English, attaining two grade levels per school year, after which he enrolled at the Mennonite Collegiate Institute. Upon graduation, he taught in rural Manitoba for three years, including being Principal of Steinbach School (1918-1919).

He moved to Bluffton, Ohio where he attended Bluffton College, earning a BA degree and working as a biology instructor for two years. He also attained MSc (1924) and PhD (1925-1926, Zoology) degrees from the University of Wisconsin, along with a MA from Ohio State University. While pursuing post-secondary education in the US, his local bank became insolvent and his savings were lost, necessitating odd jobs to continue his educational pursuits. In 1929, he gained US citizenship.

For seven years, he was involved with fish cultural operations and hatcheries for the US Bureau of Fisheries before, in 1933, he joined the State of Texas as Superintendent of Fisheries with the Texas Game, Fisher, and Oyster Commission. He remained there until 1939 when he moved to Tennessee as Director of Game and Fisher Division and lead biologist for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). He worked over 20 years for the TVA before retiring. He and his wife Ruth B. Wiebe (1893-1979) had no children and lived at Norris, Tennessee before re-settling to Knoxville in 1973. During his career, he also authored many scientific articles and held professional and honourary memberships in numerous scientific academies and societies.

He died on 29 August 1979 and was buried in the Norris Memorial Gardens at Andersonville, Tennessee.

Sources:

Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Fisheries laboratory established at A. & M.” The Eagle [Bryan, Texas], 26 January 1934, page 1.

“Game preserve in section planned,” Morning Avalanche [Lubbock, Texas], 22 October 1935, page 5.

“Game Association meets in its final session Monday,” Waco News-Tribune, 15 January 1935, page 3.

“Wildlife meeting will hear about Texas waterfowl rose,” Brownsville Herald [Brownsville, Texas], 5 March 1950, page 15.

“Fishing experts study problems,” Times Recorder [Zanesville, Ohio], 10 November 1955, page 20.

“Scientist replies to oldtimer letter,” Steinbach Carillon, 9 July 1965, pages 1 & 6.

“Former Steinbach man dies,” Steinbach Carillon, 3 October 1979, page 2.

Norris Memorial Gardens burial transcriptions, FindAGrave.

“The Bergerthaler Wiebes,” Preservings, 13 December 1998, page 64. [Plett Foundation]

“The Light from Bergfeld: Abraham H. Wiebe,” Preservings, 14 June 1999, page 91-92. [Plett Foundation]

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 26 January 2019

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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