Mennonite World Review - December 2014
Obituaries are emailed to MennObits before MWR is printed. Wording may vary in printed version.

Bixler, Rebecca R. Troyer ; . . Classen, Wilmer John ; . . Headrick, Melvin Richard ; . . Otto, Eli K. ; . .

Mennonite World Review - December 8, 2014 - 92nd Year, No. 25 - p. 15


Classen, Wilmer John

Wilmer (Will) John Classen, 77, died Nov. 17, 2014, after a more than two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was born in 1937 to Isaac T. and Margaret R. Classen on a farm in Meade, Kan.

He grew up in a Mennonite community, and his primary language was Low German. He learned English in elementary school. He attended Meade Bible Academy and graduated from high school in 1955. He enjoyed sports in high school. In the summers, he traveled to neighboring states to custom cut wheat. He sang in church choirs and in his later years was a member of the Mennonite Men's Choir.
In 1956 he moved to Denver, where he met his future wife, Darlene Rotruck. He moved to Denver to fulfill his two-year Selective Service obligation. He was an orderly at Presbyterian Hospital, and Darlene was a student nurse. They married in 1957 in Miami, Fla.

He was employed for two years at Deep Rock Water Co. In 1961 he worked at Public Service Co. After 32 years he retired in 1993. After retirement, he started a small home remodeling business. During these years he and Darlene traveled extensively, visiting China, Japan, Canada, Europe, Jamaica, Mexico and many places in the U.S.

He and Darlene moved to Grand Junction, Colo., in 2004. He loved to garden and grew incredible vegetables and flowers. He loved visiting Colorado National Monument.

Survivors include his wife, Darlene; a daughter, Cindy Kraushaar and her husband, Matthew, of Durango; two brothers, Isaac and Ernie Classen of Denver; and two grandchildren. He considered Frances Schmechel of New Zealand and Kalja Hagemann of Germany his stepdaughters because he helped guide and raise them in their later years.

He was preceded in death by three sisters.

A celebration of life will be held at Heather Gardens, Aurora, Colo., on June 6.


Headrick, Melvin Richard

Melvin Richard Headrick, 87, of LaJunta, Colo., died Nov. 15, 2014. He was born July 13, 1927, to Dessie (Balmer) and John Henry Headrick on the family farm east of Cheraw.

He graduated from Cheraw High School in 1945 and attended Hesston (Kan.) College for one year. He was a lifelong active member of East Holbrook Mennonite Church.

He spent two years, 1947-49, rebuilding after World War II in Germany and Switzerland with Mennonite Central Committee. These years were very important in shaping his faith, his love of the Mennonite church and church institutions, and his interest in the wider world. Upon his return to Colorado he met Clara Esch, a nursing student in LaJunta. They were married on April 12, 1952.

After a year in voluntary service in Newton, Kan., and Hagerstown, Md., he and Clara returned to the family farm east of Cheraw, where they raised six daughters along with turkeys, pigs, alfalfa, corn and maize. He and Clara were instrumental in getting the retirement community, Casa del Sol, off the ground in LaJunta. They moved to Casa del Sol in 1998.

He was kind, gentle, funny and caring. He lived out his deep faith in God in his everyday life.

Survivors include four daughters, Betsy Headrick McCrae and her husband, Bruce, of Lakewood, Susan Wheeler and her husband, Lee, of Hesston, Kan., Christina Headrick of Littleton and Rachel Boehs of LaPorte; three brothers, Clifford of Cheraw, Lloyd of Hesston, Kan., and Don of Washington, Iowa; three sisters, Marge Schmucker of Hesston, Kan., Rosie Kaufman of Guymon, Okla., and Joyce Shetler of Twin Falls, Idaho; seven grandchildren and two great-grandsons.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Clara; two daughters, Donna Kaye and Mary Beth; a grandson, Jacob Boehs; one sister, Dorothy Harden; and one brother, Harold.

Burial and memorial services were held at East Holbrook Mennonite Church, Cheraw.

Mennonite World Review - December 22, 2014 - 92nd Year, No. 26 - p. 19


Otto, Eli K.

Eli K. Otto
, 92, of Leonard, Mo., died Nov. 24, 2014, at Salt River Community Care in Shelbina. He was born Aug. 2, 1922, to Daniel and Susanna Kauffman Otto in Chesterville, Ill.

He married Edna Mae Yoder on January 17, 1946.

He was a member of Mount Pisgah Mennonite Church in Cherry Box. He and his family moved to Missouri from Arthur, Ill., in 1958 to help with the growth of the Mennonite church in Missouri. He was engaged in farming until retirement, when he was actively involved with the Gideons as a Gideon minister. Other volunteer services were at the guesthouse in Miami, Fla.; six months at Mennohof in Shipshewana, Ind., Mennonite Disaster Service work, Habitat for Humanity, prison ministry, and he delivered Meals on Wheels. He enjoyed farming, family and his faith.

Survivors include his wife, Edna; five children, Frances Otto of Kansas City, Roger Otto and his wife, Beverly, of Leonard, Ruth Yoder and her husband, Lowell, of Phoenix, Ariz., Carol Cornwell and her husband, Doug, of Buffalo, and Willard Otto and his wife, Dianna, of Leonard; two brothers, Jeff Otto of Novelty and John Otto of Newton, Kan.; nine grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by three brothers and two sisters.
Funeral services were held at Mount Pisgah Mennonite Church near Cherry Box. Burial was in the Brethren-Mennonite Cemetery.


Bixler, Rebecca R. Troyer

Rebecca R. Bixler, 86, of Iowa City, Iowa, died Nov. 22, 2014, at Oaknoll Retirement Residence. She was born Dec. 31, 1927, to Miles and Mary (Reif) Troyer in Elkhart, Ind.

She graduated from Hesston (Kan.) Academy in 1945 and then attended Goshen (Ind.) College, graduating in 1951 with a bachelor's degree in education. She taught schools in Elkhart after graduation for a couple of years.

On June 20, 1953, she married John Bixler at Prairie Street Mennonite Church in Elkhart.

They moved to Iowa City, where for two years she worked at University Hospital as a nursing assistant in child care. For the years to follow she raised her family and supported her husband in their music business.

She enjoyed her family, church, gardening and canning the fruits of her labor. Her music brought much joy to her life and so many others. She supported causes including the Hancher Guild, UI Foundation, Nature Conservancy, Rails to Trails, Common Cause, the Democratic Party and First Mennonite Church of Iowa City, where she was a member for more than 60 years.

Survivors include her husband, John; four children, Debra Brown and her husband, Robert, Samuel Bixler and his wife, Carol, Amy Bixler, and Peter Bixler and his spouse, Dana Noble; three sisters, Margaret Miller, Grace Helmuth and Vera Weaver; and six grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by a brother, Darda Troyer; and two sisters, Dorothy Miller and Fern Erb.

Memorial services were held at First Mennonite Church of Iowa City.

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