Mennonite Weekly Review - June, 1987

Mennonite Weekly Review
64th Year ­ No. 23 ­ Page 7
June 4, 1987

Deaths in 1987

Veteran MBM Uruguay Missionary Dies at 63 in Montevideo.

Montevideo, Uruguay-H. James Martin, 63, Mennonite Board of Missions worker in Uruguay, died May 29 at a hospital in Montevideo of apparent heart failure. He had been hospitalized since May 23.

Survivors include his wife, Anna; three daughters, Judith, Janet and Elaine; and two sons, James David and Daniel.

The Martins served in Uruguay from 1954 to 1969 and from 1980 to the present. Most recently he had been pastor of the Floresta Mennonite Church in Montevideo. Services were held May 30 at that church, with burial at the Delta Mennonite colony.

During the span between their periods of service in Uruguay, the Martins gave pastoral leadership to the Bethel Mennonite Church of La Junta, Colo.; and the East Holbrook Mennonite Church of Cheraw, Colo.

Page 10

Manitoba Man Dies in Motorcycle Mishap

Kleefeld, Man.-Daniel George Neufeld was fatally injured in the early morning hours of May 16 when he lost control of his motorcycle near Blumenort. He was 31.

Neufeld, who was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, was pronounced dead on arrival at the Steinbach Bethesda Hospital.

64th Year ­ No. 24 ­ June 11, 1987 ­ Page 8


Funeral services for Ida Edith Hanke, 84, of Newton, were held June 6 at First Mennonite Church, Newton. Floyd G. Bartel and L.W. Jantzen officiated. Burial was in Greenwood Cemetery, Newton. She died June 3 at Halstead Hospital. Survivors include three brothers, Elmer, Henry and Harry, all of Newton; and one sister, Esther Dirksen, Iron Mountain, Mich.

Death in 1987

Missionary Pilot Dies in Crash in Indonesia

Hepburn, Sask.-Gary Willems, 32, died May 24 when the Twin Otter aircraft he was piloting was forced down in heavy rain near the Indonesian village of Ilaja.

The rain may have contributed to the crash, but it is not thought to be the cause of the accident. An investigation was continuing. Six of the 30 passengers aboard also died in the crash.

Willems had been a pilot and aircraft mechanic for Missionary Aviation Fellowship of Canada for two years. He is survived by his wife, Kathy, and his mother, Margaret Willems Neufeld of Drake, Sask.

64th Year ­ No. 25 ­ June 18, 1987 ­ Page 1, 2

Deaths in 1987

Developed Idea of Inter-Mennonite Newspaper

Former MWR Editor Dies at 83


Newton, Kan. ­ Menno Schrag, editor of Mennonite Weekly Review from 1935 to 1969, died June 12 at his home in Newton. He was 83

He was diagnosed June 1 as having acute leukemia, after which he was hospitalized for a week and then returned home.

A memorial service was held Monday afternoon, June 15, at first Mennonite Church of Newton, with pastors Floyd G. Bartel and Lubin W. Jantzen officiating. Burial was in Greenwood Cemetery.

Schrag developed the concept of an inter-Mennonite newspaper. Under his editorial and management leadership, the Review grew from a four-page paper circulated mostly in Kansas, with fewer than 1,000 subscribers, to a newspaper that serves Mennonite conferences and organizations across North America.

DURING HIS 34 years as editor and six as assistant editor, Schrag wrote more than 2,500 editorials. He traveled to 37 countries, reporting on the work of the church overseas and especially on Mennonite Central Committee.

From 1946 to 1974, he was manager of Herald Publishing company, the non-profit organization that publishes the Review. He retired in 1974 but remained an active member of the Herald Board of Directors until his death.

Schrag served the church in various ways in addition to his career in journalism. He served for 12 years as a member of the Board of Education and Publication of the General Conference Mennonite Church, and for eight years as chairman of the General Conference Historical Committee.

He was a member of the Bethel College Board of Directors from 1951 to 1963, serving as chairman for most of those years.

SCHRAG WAS BORN March 23, 1904, in Alta Township of Harvey County, Kan., the second-youngest of 11 children of Andrew G. and Freni (Strausz) Schrag. His parents were part of the 1874 immigration of Mennonites from Russia to the central United States. The family attended the Hoffnungsfeld (Hopefield) Mennonite church west of Moundridge.

He was a 1923 high school graduate of Hesston Academy. There he was introduced to a wider perspective of Mennonite church life and met many future lifetime friends, among whom was Melvin Gingerich, who later became an intimate associate and columnist in the work of the Review.

In 1925, he responded to an ad in the German publication, Der Herold, about a job opening at the Herald Publishing Co. He was hired by H.P. Krehbiel, founder and manager of the company, and began work as a typesetter, earning $8 for a 50-hour week. He also attended Bethel College as a part-time student.

HE WAS NAMED assistant editor of the Review in 1927, after which editor Krehbiel departed on a year-long world tour, leaving the fledgling journalist in charge of editorial responsibilities.

Schrag began a three-year leave in 1928 to complete his college education. He enrolled in Wheaton (Ill.) College and graduated in 1931. There he met Gertrude Aeberhard, a native of Pandora, Ohio. They were married May 4, 1933, and took up residence in Newton.

In 1931, Schrag resumed his position as assistant editor of the Review. The company faced financial difficulties during the Depression, and in 1935, when assistant manager Gerhard Willms resigned, Schrag took his place.

However, Willms soon returned to become manager of the company and editor of Der Herold. Krehbiel then resigned as company manager and Review editor.

IN SEPTEMBER 1935, Schrag became the third editor of the Review, after Adolf J. Krehbiel (1923-25) and H.P. Krehbiel (1925-35).

In 1946, Willms purchased most of the Herald Publishing Co. equipment and organized the Herald Book and Printing Co., now United Printing, Inc. Schrag became manager of the Herald Publishing Co., the main activity of which became publication of the Review.

He immediately took steps to extend the paper's outreach to the various Mennonite groups and to increase circulation as rapidly as possible. In 1947, he made a three-month trip to Europe and the Middle East to bring back reports about MCC work on the war-ravaged continent and observations about Palestine, then on the verge of being divided into separate Arab and Israeli states.

THE TRIP PROVED important to the expansion of the Review and Herald Publishing Co. His frequent and extensive reports at community gatherings, schools and churches on the refugee and relief situation in Europe and the Middle East created wide interest. He produced a booklet about Palestine, Where He Walked, which was distributed to Review readers as a subscription premium.

In 1958, he led a three-week South America tour, writing extensive reports for the Review. He spent six weeks in Europe in 1964, visited Africa and the Middle East in 1968 and East Asia in 1980.

Since the late 1940s, he led the Herald Publishing Co. to financial stability and the Review to greatly extended outreach as an inter-Mennonite newspaper that reflects the life and events among Mennonites worldwide.

SCHRAG HAD PLANNED to resign as Review editor in 1970 on the 50th anniversary of the Herald Publishing Co. But he suffered a heart attack in December 1968, and resigned as editor in February 1969. He continued as manager of the company until 1974, when he suffered another heart attack.

In addition to his board positions with Bethel College and the General Conference, he served on various committees of the First Mennonite Church of Newton, of which he was a member. He was Sunday school superintendent for six years and served on the board of deacons.

In 1953, he was asked by the General Conference Mennonite Men's Organization to start a boys' activity program, which he named Mennonite Boys League. He was chairman of the league's governing committee for about 10 years until control was transferred to the General Conference.

IN THE 1950S, Schrag served as chairman of a joint committee of the First Mennonite and Bethel College Mennonite churches for starting a new Mennonite congregation in Newton, which led to establishment of Faith Mennonite Church.

Schrag also was a member and for several years chairman of the Bethel College Historical Library and Archives, chairman of the Western District Conference (GC) Historical Committee and a member of the General Conference Inter-Board Committee on Latin America.

At the memorial service, his son James, pastor of Oak Grove Mennonite Church, Smithville, Ohio, read a tribute written by the family. William T. Snyder of Akron, Pa., former executive secretary of MCC, also spoke, noting that both MCC and the Herald Publishing Co. were founded in 1920. He expressed appreciation for the Review's decades of extensive news coverage of MCC.

Marles Preheim, of the Bethel College music faculty, sang two solos, "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need" and "If With All Your Heart You Truly Seek Him."

PASTOR BARTEL gave a message based on Lamentations 3:21-24 (RSV): "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is they faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'"

In a time of fellowship at the church after the burial, a number of people gave additional tributes and shared personal memories.

Memorials are suggested for MCC U.S. Peace Section.

He is survived by his wife, Gertrude; two sons, Robert of Newton, editor of the Review, and his wife, Frances, and James of Smithville, Ohio, pastor of Oak Grove Mennonite Church, and his wife, Judy; a daughter, Elisabeth Pauls of Newton, an accountant, and her husband, Dewayne; a brother, Sam of Pretty Prairie, Kan.; and eight grandchildren: Paul, Janet and David Schrag, Sherrill and her husband, R. B. Woods, and Lori Pauls, all of Newton; Valerie, Melissa and Rachel Schrag, all of Smithville, Ohio.

Schrag compiled an illustrated family history book, We Did Not Walk Alone, in 1976. In it, he wrote, "Earthly sojourns do have a termination point . . . our Lord has even happier and more wonderful things for us to see and experience in the permanent life beyond temporal space and time."

In a 1951 photo, Menno Schrag stands by the newly installed Goss Cox-O-Type newspaper press in the Herald Publishing Co. plant. This equipment was replaced in 1966 with a Goss Community web offset press, which continues to be used to print the Review. Schrag was editor of MWR from 1935 to 1969.

64th Year ­ No. 25 ­ June 18, 1987 ­ Page 3

Deaths in 1987

Japanese Educator Dies in Tokyo

Tokyo (MWC)-Chiyo Sakakibara, 88, a Japanese Mennonite educator and politician, died here April 28.

Born in 1898 in Shizuoka Ken, she was married in 1927 to Gan Sakakibara, Japan's foremost Anabaptist scholar, who survives. Also surviving are one son, three daughters (all living in North America) and eight grandchildren.

Before marriage, she was a reporter for Fujin no Tomo, a monthly magazine for intellectual women. In 1947, she was elected as a representative to the national Diet (Japan's parliament) and served as vice minister of law.

She served as board member and also as administrator of Ferris Women's College and served on the alumni board of Aoyama University. She was a member of the founding University, and until her death served as an honorary member of the board of that school.

She was a member of the Honan Cho Mennonite Church in Tokyo, where a memorial service was held May 10.

Page 6

Moundridge Native Murdered in Wichita

Wichita, Kan.-Hattie J. Toews Smith, 54, a native of the Moundridge area, was found murdered in her home here June 10.

Her husband, Robert J., discovered her body when he returned home from work. She had been beaten, strangled and drowned in the bathtub.

There was no sign of a forced entry into the duplex. The place had been ransacked, and some items were missing.

Survivors include a daughter, her mother, two brothers, and two sisters. Funeral services were held at Mount Olive Christian Church, Wichita. Burial was in the West Zion Mennonite Church cemetery, Moundridge.

64th Year ­ No. 26 ­ June 25, 1987 ­ Page 12


Funeral services for Oliver Paul Klassen, 68, of North Newton, were held June 19 at Koerner Heights Church of the Mennonite Brethren, Newton, with Michael Moser and Harold Graber officiating. Burial was in the Zion Mennonite Church Cemetery, Elbing. A retired truck driver, Klassen died June 16 at Axtell Christian Hospital. Survivors include his wife, the former Rosella Friesen; two sons, David P. of Newton and Alan L. of Elkhorn, Neb.; three daughters, Marjorie E. Snyder of Augusta, Lena M. Woolverton of Denton, Texas, and Rosanne K. Hayes of Moundridge; one brother, Jacob H. of Winfield; one sister, Louella Gray of Fresno, Calif.; and his stepmother, Agathe Klassen of Newton.

Mary Ensz Claassen of Newton died June 16 at Friendly Acres at age 99. Graveside services were held June 20 at Greenwood Cemetery, Newton, with Floyd G. Bartel and Lubin W. Jantzen officiating. The services were followed by a memorial service at First Mennonite Church, Newton. Survivors include two sons, Eric of Kingman and Harold of Tulsa, Okla.; two daughters, Dorothy Stucky of Moundridge and Edith Loewen of Hesston; three sisters, Edna Suderman of Inman, Linda Andreas of Abilene and Martha Unruh of California; nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services for Frederick Klaassen, 92, now of Newton and formerly of rural Whitewater, are scheduled for June 25 at Grace Hill Mennonite Church, rural Newton. James Voth will officiate. Burial will be in the church cemetery. A native of Whitewater, Klaassen was a retired farmer who had lived at Bethel Home for the Aged, Newton, the past two years. Survivors include one son, Melvin of Whitewater; one sister, Edna Ferguson of Wichita; four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. His wife, the former Hanna Harms, preceded him in death in 1975.

Transcribed by Ralph Shetler, Oregon

Copyright 2002 - All rights reserved - Mennonite Publishing House, Scottdale, PA
Used with permission by the Archives of the Mennonite Church, Goshen, INDIANA
Permission granted to private family researchers to use selected portions of these files to tell their family stories.
May not be mass-produced in any form for commercial purposes.