Wes and Elsie met while attending Rosthern Junior College. Elsie, the daughter of immigrants, was born in Herschel, Saskatchewan. Wes was the son of a Hague, Saskatchewan shopkeeper. They married in 1955 and were life partners until Wes’s passing in August of 2011.
After graduating from high school, Wes began a life-long career in retail, joining Caswell’s Men’s Wear as a stock clerk. A tireless worker and gifted salesman, Wes quickly impressed the store manager. In 1967, he took an entrepreneurial leap and crossed the street to join Barney Kutz as a co-owner of Kutz Tailors. In 1971, Wes joined Caswell’s as partner and remained with this Saskatoon institution until his retirement.
Wes’s other career was in community service. He served as President of the Retail Merchant Association of Saskatchewan, Chairman of the Saskatoon City Hospital board, member of Saskatoon Community Foundation board, and Chairman of Saskatchewan Blue Cross, and Blue Cross Life Insurance Company of Canada. Wes was active in his church as long-time treasurer of Nutana Park Mennonite Church and member of the board of directors of Rosthern Junior College.
Elsie trained as a teacher and taught in Saskatoon schools for several years before dedicating herself to homemaking and raising their children, Debra (a Saskatoon teacher and Vice-Principal), Bob (a banking executive) and Jennifer (an administrative assistant). All three children are graduates Rosthern Junior College and the University of Saskatchewan. Once the children were teenagers, Elsie returned to teaching, working with immigrants for 18 years in the English as a Second Language program at Saskatchewan Polytechnique. Many new Canadians honed their language skills and learned to cope with Saskatoon winters and unfamiliar Canadian customs under Elsie’s tutelage. Elsie has long been known for her beautiful garden and wonderful hospitality.
Together, Wes and Elsie opened their home to many over the years. Their ongoing commitment to Saskatoon as well as the generous memorial contributions of family and friends following Wes’s passing in August of 2011 has allowed the family to create a loving legacy for Saskatoon. The Wes and Elsie Heinrichs Family Fund, held in perpetuity at Saskatoon Community Foundation, benefits the quality of life of citizens in Saskatoon. Living their lives by example, Wes and Elsie have modeled kindness and integrity by giving back to the community. Wes believed in “changing your own corner of the world.” It is both of their hopes that their legacy will live on through their association with Saskatoon Community Foundation.