Mennonite World Review - February 2015

Obituaries are emailed to MennObits before MWR is printed. Wording may vary in printed version.

Bender, Mildred "Milllie" Esther Bender ; . . Cullar, John Allen ; . . Davidhizar, Ellen Catherine Jennings Oyer ; . . Isaak, Roland Earl ; . . Johnson, Mabel "Elaine" Storm ; . . Regier, Edwin J. ; . . Rich, Ronald Lee ; . . Roth, Donald F. ; . . van Donk, Jan ; . .
Mennonite World Review - February 2, 2015 - 93rd Year, No. 3 - p. 15


Roth, Donald F.

Donald F. Roth, 83, of Morton, Ill., died Dec. 22, 2014. He was born July 15, 1931, to Amos Jr. and Ada (King) Roth.

He married Ruth Catherine King on June 25, 1966, at First Mennonite Church of Morton, where he was a lifetime member.

He graduated from Morton High School in 1949. From 1952 to 1954 he served in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict as a chaplain's assistant and organist.

His lifetime occupation was grain farming in the Roth Brothers Partnership. He was co-owner of Eastside Farms and Roth Grain Company. From 1954 to 2005 he served as an assistant for Ludwig and the Knapp-Johnson Funeral Home.

He served as co-chair of the Illinois Mennonite Relief Sale from 1970 to 2014 and helped with the sale since its beginning in 1959. He was co-editor of Love in Action: The Story of Thirty Illinois Mennonite Relief Sales, published in 1989.

He was chair of several FMC committees from 1963 to recently. He was youth choir director from 1965 to 1994 and adult and youth bell choir director from 1981 to 2009. He was pianist and organist from 1954 until recent years. He was on the centennial planning committee for FMC in 1979 and a member of the 125th anniversary celebration committee in 2004.

He was elected mayor of Morton, serving from April 1, 1997, to April 2005. He was co-author with Ruthie for the book Morton: A Pictorial History in celebration of Morton's First National Bank Centennial celebration in 1988. He was chair of Morton's Bicentennial Community Project in 1975-1976. He and his wife co-directed the Morton High School dinner theater for 15 years. They co-authored a family history book, Bishop Samuel Gerber: A Brief Look at the Lives and Times of His Ancestors, Family, and Descendants. In 2013 they received the Stalter Heritage Award from the Illinois Mennonite Historical and Genealogical Society for significant contributions to the Illinois Mennonite Relief Sale and First Mennonite Church of Morton.

Survivors include his wife, Ruthie; and a brother, Herbert Roth.

Memorial services were held at First Mennonite Church of Morton. Burial was in the Pleasant Grove Mennonite Cemetery.


Davidhizar, Ellen Catherine Jennings Oyer

Ellen Catherine Oyer Davidhizar, 83, of Canby, Ore., died Nov. 27, 2014. She was born Aug. 3, 1931, to Ervin and Alice (Groff) Jennings in Sacramento, Calif.

She made a commitment to the Lord and was baptized at Los Angeles Mennonite Church. She attended public schools in Fresno, Calif., until age 16. The next two years she attended Hesston (Kan.) Academy for high school, graduating in 1950. After Hesston she attended Goshen (Ind.) College and majored in elementary education. There she met John Paul Oyer of St. John's, Mich. They were married in Fresno on June 14, 1953.

She taught third grade near Columbiana, Ohio, where John had his first pastorate. In 1960 they moved to Goshen for him to finish seminary. They moved to Rocky Ford, Colo., in 1961, where he became chaplain at a new Mennonite hospital and also the first pastor at Rocky Ford Mennonite Church. In 1963, she taught reading in a half-time position. By 1972 she taught third grade full time.

They moved to Hubbard, Ore., in 1975 for a pastorate at Zion Mennonite Church. She substituted at nearby 91 School and enjoyed teaching children's Sunday school. In 1988 they moved to Phoenix, where John became chaplain at Glencroft Retirement Community. He died Oct. 7, 1989.

She married Paul Davidhizar on Sept. 18, 1993.

She volunteered regularly at Glencroft Retirement Community. In December 2010, she and Paul moved to Canby to live at Hope Retirement Community. She was a member of Zion Mennonite Church of Hubbard.

Survivors include her husband, Paul, of Canby; three sons, Phil of Strasburg, Colo., Stan and his wife, Vonnie, of Hubbard, and Gary and his wife, Louisa, of Hesston, Kan.; two stepdaughters, Ginny Birky and her husband, Karl, of Newberg, and Nancy Yoder and her husband, Craig, of Fort Wayne, Ind.; five grandsons; two step-grandsons and three step-great-granddaughters.

She was preceded in death by her first husband, John Oyer; an infant brother, Carl; a sister, Lois Yearout; and a brother, Ernest Jennings.

Memorial services and burial were held at Zion Mennonite Church, Hubbard.


Rich, Ronald Lee

Ronald Lee Rich, 87, of Bluffton, Ohio, died Nov. 28, 2014, from prostate cancer. He was born March 29, 1927, to Rufus J. and Lillian (Lantz) Rich in Illinois.

His senior year in high school, 1945, he was chosen as one of the top 40 students in the country in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search and won a trip to Washington, D.C., where he met Harry Truman and Eleanor Roosevelt.

He graduated from Bluffton College in 1948 and received his doctorate in chemistry from the University of Chicago, where he had professors such as Enrico Fermi, Willard Libby, Harold Urey and Edward Teller. His adviser, Henry Taube, later won a Nobel Prize in chemistry and considered him one of his best students. On June 14, 1953, he married Elaine Sommers.

He was a chemistry professor at Bethel College in North Newton, Kan., from 1953 to 1966. In 1966 he moved to Tokyo, Japan, where he was a professor at International Christian University. He was there until 1979, when he came to Bluffton University. He taught or did research at Los Alamos Laboratories, the National Bureau of Standards and the universities of Utah, Harvard, Kansas, Kansas State, Stanford, Illinois, Oregon and North Carolina State. An endowed chemistry scholarship at Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis, was created in his honor by one of his former students. He published many articles in chemistry journals and was the author of Periodic Correlations, a series of books for Japanese scientists on writing science papers in English, and Inorganic Reactions in Water.

He was interested in world affairs, promoting human rights, listening to classical music, learning languages and conserving resources. He was an amateur astronomer and a member of the Lima Astronomical Society. He was baptized into the Mennonite church at age 12.

Survivors include his wife, Elaine, of Bluffton; three sons, Jonathan and his wife, Tai, of Union City, Calif., Andrew and his wife, Sally, of North Manchester, Ind., and Mark and his wife, Kathy, of Yellow Springs; a daughter, Miriam and her husband, James Brown, of Blacksburg, Va.; two sisters, Lois Smucker of Ashland, Ore., and Mary Blosser of Bluffton; and six grandchildren.


Isaak, Roland Earl

Roland Earl Isaak, 76, of Aberdeen, Idaho, died unexpectedly Jan. 21, 2015. He was born Sept. 22, 1938, to Peter and Eva (Dirks) Isaak in American Falls.

He grew up in Aberdeen. After completing high school, he served three years of 1-W voluntary service in Reedley, Calif., and Evanston, Ill. He returned to Aberdeen and married Edith Koehn on Nov. 4, 1960.

He farmed for the first three years of married life, followed by three years working at the University of Idaho Research and Extension Center. Beginning in 1966, he worked for 20 years at Jerry's Oil Co., becoming a co-owner of the Phillips 66 service station. He worked a brief time as a salesman for Landvatter Motors. Beginning in the mid-1980s, he worked at the University of Idaho Research and Extension Center and then at the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Grain Storage Bank as a maintenance mechanic.

He volunteered as an emergency medical technician and firefighter for the Aberdeen Fire Department for 25 years, where he was assistant chief. He was active at First Mennonite Church in Aberdeen as a Sunday school teacher, deacon and treasurer and singing in choir, men's chorus and mixed quartet.

Survivors include his wife, Edith, of Aberdeen; four daughters, Brenda Bartel and her husband, Barry, of Golden, Colo., Sandra Duerksen and her husband, Russell, of Goessel, Kan., Diane Isaak of Caldwell, and Mary Crist and her husband, Brett, of Columbia, Mo.; two sisters, Marge Krehbiel of Aberdeen and Ruth Isaak of Yakima, Wash.; a brother, Irvin Isaak of Reedley, Calif.; eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

He was preceded in death by six brothers, Elmer, Arthur, Harold, Paul, William and Walter; and one sister, Gertrude.

Memorial services were held at Aberdeen First Mennonite Church.

Mennonite World Review - February 16, 2015 - 93rd Year, No. 4 p. 15


van Donk, Jan

Jan van Donk, 77, died Jan. 27, 2015, at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community. He was born Nov. 4, 1937, to Jan and Arina van Donk in Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel, the Netherlands.

He immigrated to the U.S. for higher education, graduating from Goshen (Ind.) College and Columbia University. He was a physics professor at the University in Gaborone in Botswana, where he and his wife, Carol, served with Mennonite Central Committee. He later taught geology at Wheaton (Ill.) College and Phillips University in Enid, Okla. After teaching for 15 years, he was a document analyst at Chemical Abstract Services in Columbus, Ohio, where he enjoyed working among colleagues from a variety of nationalities.

On April 8, 1967, he married Carol Hunter of Brooklyn, N.Y., with whom he shared 47 years.

He was a person of principle and integrity. Family and friends appreciated his unique sense of humor. He had a quiet and thoughtful manner, yet was outspoken about ethical concerns. Of particular interest were issues of peace and justice, which he addressed with community groups and elected officials. He was active in church, teaching adult Sunday school classes for decades. He collected rocks and minerals, including specimens from his travels around the U.S. and on four continents.

Survivors include his wife, Carol; three children, Kim van Donk, Tanya Craft and her husband, Mike, and Daryl van Donk; three siblings, Tiny Ackema of Arnhem, the Netherlands, Cor van Donk of Land O' Lakes, Fla., and Dick van Donk of Driebergen, the Netherlands; and two grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by two brothers, Piet and Arie.

A memorial service will be held at Park View Mennonite Church on Feb. 28.


Cullar, John Allen

John Allen Cullar, 91, of North Lima, Ohio, died Jan. 2, 2015, at Hospice House in Beaver Township. He was born Dec. 23, 1923, to John and Rena (Metzler) Cullar in North Lima.

He was born and raised on his family farm, where he was the fourth-generation farmer. He and his wife, Lillie, owned and operated the Paradise Green House and vegetable farm until their retirement in 1993.

He graduated from North Lima High School and attended Goshen (Ind.) College. He was a lifetime member of Midway Mennonite Church, where he served as deacon for many years. He also worked with Mennonite Disaster Service.

He was active with Ohio Farm Bureau, where he was a past recipient of the Farmer of the Year award. His farm was routinely chosen to be showcased as part of local farm tours. He served with the Gideons and the Beaver Ruritans, and enjoyed piloting single-engine planes. He hosted young men from Europe with an international farm-training program. He and Lillie traveled to Europe, Alaska and much of the continental U.S.

A kind-hearted person with a gentle spirit, he was loved and will be greatly missed by many cousins, nephews, nieces, great-nephews, and great-nieces.

He was preceded in death by his his wife, Lillie Goering; an infant son, John Craig Cullar; a brother, Harold Cullar; and a sister, Ardith Blosser.

Funeral services were held at Midway Mennonite Church of Columbiana. Burial was in Midway Cemetery.


Johnson, Mabel "Elaine" Storm

Mabel Elaine Storm Johnson, 91, of Fort Collins, Colo., died Jan. 20, 2015, at Spring Creek Health Center. She was born July 29, 1923, to Howard and Mary (King) Storm in Casselton, N.D. She preferred to use her middle name, Elaine.

She married Ralph Clarence Johnson at Detroit Lakes, Minn., on Aug. 25, 1940.

They farmed in North Dakota at Davenport and Casselton. She was the director of food services of Central Cass Schools in Casselton and served as president of the North Dakota School Food Service Association. Her hospitality, excellent food, cake decorating and quilting were enjoyed by many. She was an active member of Mennonite congregations in Casselton and in Fargo-Moorhead. She was a Sunday school teacher, elder on the congregation's leadership team and active in Women's Fellowship circles. A strong supporter of Mennonite Central Committee, she worked at the annual regional MCC relief sale. She also represented the North Central Conference on the MCC Central States board. She moved to Fort Collins in 2004.

Survivors include a sister, Barbara Bullington of Mobile, Ala.; a daughter, Norma J. Johnson (Vern Preheim) of North Newton, Kan.; four sons, Roger M. Johnson of Berkely, Mich., Eugene L. Johnson (Barbara) of Fort Collins, Ralph C. Johnson (Carlos Cobos) of Denver, and Timothy J. Johnson (Stacie McMullen) of Denver; six grandchildren; two great-grandchildren and five step-great-grandchildren. Also surviving is Grace Johnson of Hydro, Okla., the youngest sister of Elaine's husband, who lived with the family for nine years.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Ralph; two brothers and two sisters.

Inurnment will take place in the cemetery at Casselton, N.D., followed by a memorial service at the Casselton Heritage Center on May 23.


Regier, Edwin J.

Edwin J. Regier, 91, of rural Newton, Kan., died Jan. 10, 2015. He was born on June 28, 1923, to Bernhard (Ben C.) and Agatha (Andres) Regier at Bethel Deaconess Hospital in Newton.

On May 2, 1950, he married Ella Kroeker.

He was a lifelong member of First Mennonite Church in Newton, where he was baptized at age 18. He was active on many boards: Mennonite Central Committee relief sale, Butler Rural Electric Association, Bethel Deaconess Hospital, Walton State Bank and Kidron-Bethel Retirement Center.

He farmed east of Newton all his life. It was something he loved to do, but he also found time to restore a model T, two Model As and four International Harvester tractors. He loved playing banjo with family and friends. He was known for his quiet, deep faith, his love for the Lord and his love for his family.

Survivors include his wife, Ella; six children, Jerry Regier, Jan Antranikian and her husband, Haig, Chuck Regier and his wife, Bev, Ruth Abrahams and her husband, Dwayne, Dwight Regier and his wife, Janet, and Ken Regier and his wife, Amy; a sister, Anna Harder; 23 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by a brother, Herman Regier; a sister, Clara Schmidt; a daughter-in-law, Donna Regier; and a granddaughter, Valerie Antranikian.

Memorial services were held at First Mennonite Church, Newton. Burial was in Greenwood Cemetery.


Bender, Mildred "Milllie" Esther Bender

Mildred (Millie) Bender, 80, died Dec. 13, 2014, at Friends House, Sandy Spring, Md. She was born on March 18, 1934, to Nevin and Esther Bender in Greenwood, Del.

She began her counseling vocation at age 20 in Greenwood after one year and a summer of college. After graduating from Eastern Mennonite College and two more years of teaching at Greenwood, she went into what became a unifying theme in her life - working and sharing life with other cultures and religions. First was Newfoundland with Mennonite Central Committee for two years and then Neshoba County, Miss., where she taught English to Choctaw youth and worked with her parents among the tribe during the turbulent 1960s. Graduate studies at the American University of Beirut earned her a master's degree and opened the door to seven years of teaching, mainly Arab students, at the university. During those years she traveled with her father in the Middle East and Europe.

Washington, D.C., became her home in 1975. Besides teaching English as a Second Language to foreign students at Georgetown University, she joined Sojourners community. Further graduate study in pastoral counseling at Loyola College in Baltimore and serving as pastor and counselor at Sojourners called for a deepening of her own spirituality. A sabbatical in San Francisco studying creation spirituality, truth and storytelling led her to integrate a body-mind-spirit focus into her counseling. Returning to Washington, she offered her healing gifts until her retirement. She moved to Friends House in 2004, providing leadership to the residents association.

Survivors include eight siblings, Lura Benner and her husband, Millard, of Greenwood, Del., Miriam Jantzi of Lima, Ohio; Paul Bender and his wife, Virginia, of Green­wood, Del., Hilda Swartz and her husband, Merlin, of Bedford, Mass., Titus Bender and his wife, Ann, of Harrisonburg, Va., Emma Myers and her husband, Glenn, of Phil­a­del­phia, Miss., Nevin Bender and his wife, Lour­ene, of Harrisonburg, Va., and Don Ben­der and his wife, Judy, of Atlanta.

She was preceded in death by a brother-in-law, Elmer Jantzi.

Memorial services were held at Greenwood, Del., Hyattsville (Md.) Mennonite Church, and at Friends House in Sandy Spring. Another celebration of her life will be held at Rolling Ridge Retreat Center in West Virginia in July.

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