Mennonite World Review - August 2016

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

Abrahams,Ethel Grace Ewert ; . . Graber, Erwen "Erv" Wenger ; . . Krabill, Alta Louise Snyder ; . . Krabill, John Lowell ; . . Krabill, Murray Wayne ; . . Neff, Sheralynn Marie ; . . North, Wayne Gerald ; . . Oswald, Rebecca Ann "Becky" Duerksen ; . . Rittenhouse, Alice E. Plessinger ; . . Schmidt, Earl Alvin ; . . Stutzman, Ethel L. Miller ; . . Thomason, Karen Jean Ebersole ; . . Ulrich, Ruby Reeb ; . .

Mennonite World Review - August 1, 2016 - 94th Year, No. 16 - p. 15


North, Wayne Gerald

Wayne Gerald North, 86, of Harrisonburg, Va., died July 8, 2016, of acute leukemia. He was born Oct. 29, 1929, to Homer F. and Bertha Bechtel North in Nappanee, Ind.

After graduation from the Nappanee schools, he graduated from Hesston (Kan.) College, Goshen (Ind.) College and Goshen Biblical Seminary.

He married Doris Amstutz in 1955.

He served as pastor to churches in Ontario, Ohio and Virginia. He served as superintendent of Central Christian High School in Kidron, Ohio, and as administrator for the Mennonite Church General Board in Lombard, Ill. He was also a writer for Mennonite periodicals. He was gentle and kind and often knew just the right word for a situation. He believed that every human being deserved to be loved and treated with respect.

Survivors include his wife, Doris; six children, Rod North and his wife, Alice Franks, of Greensboro, N.C., Brenda Martin and her husband, Stan, of Cary, N.C., Emily Sandel and her husband, Ben, of Harrisonburg, David North of Denver, Janet Schlabach and her husband, Fred, of East Barnard, Vt., and Jennifer Bauman and her husband, Kendal, of Harrisonburg; and 12 grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by a sister, Elta Eicher.

Memorial contributions may be made to Mennonite Central Committee or the Harrisonburg Mennonite Church building fund.


Abrahams,Ethel Grace Ewert

Ethel Grace Ewert Abrahams, 92, of Hesston, Kan., died July 5, 2016. She was born Aug. 3, 1923, to Gerhard and Helena Peters Ewert in Hillsboro.

She was baptized and joined Hillsboro First Mennonite Church in 1938. She received degrees in art from Bethel College (bachelor’s) and from Wichita State University (master’s).

On Sept. 26, 1944, she married her high school sweetheart, Norman E. Abrahams.

She worked as a secretary to put Norman through optometry school in Chicago. When they settled in Hillsboro, she enjoyed being an “at home mom” during her children’s formative years. She volunteered with the Mennonite Library and Archives, Kauffman Museum and Wichita Art Museum. She and Nor­man did several short-term projects with Mennonite Central Committee in Akron, Pa., and in North Carolina. She accompanied Norman on a number of international eye projects with Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity. She served on the boards of Hillsboro Public Library, Kansas Wo­men’s Association, Kauffman Museum, Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale and Bethel College Women’s Association. In 1980, she researched and published the book Frakturmalen und Schoenscreiben: The Fraktur Art and Penmanship of the Dutch-German Mennonites While in Europe 1700-1900. After relocating to North Newton in 1988 at age 65, she embarked on an exceptional quilting career, creating more than 200 exquisite quilts. Her passion led to research, writing and lecturing about crazy quilts, tobacco silks and vintage doll quilts.

She and Norman joined Bethel College Mennonite Church in 1989. The next year, they received the Bethel College Outstanding Alumni Award. She enjoyed reading, gardening and traveling, including participation with friends in many Elderhostel trips. Several years after Norman died, she moved to Kidron Bethel Village, then later to Schowalter Villa in Hesston.

Survivors include three children, Nan Graber and her husband, Don, of Monument, Colo., Dwayne Abrahams and his wife, Ruth, of rural Newton, and Nadine Abrahams and her husband, Norm Epp, of Lakewood, Colo.; six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Norman; and a son, David.


Ulrich, Ruby Reeb

Ruby Ulrich, 94, of Eureka, Ill., died May 20, 2016, at Advocate Eureka Hospital. She was born April 26, 1922, to Henry and Lydia (Birky) Reeb in Shickley, Neb.

She married Kenneth Ulrich on June 22, 1950, in Hopedale.
She was educated in southeastern Nebraska and moved to Illinois with her parents in 1938. While in Nebraska, she lived through the seven-year Dust Bowl. She was a dedicated homemaker and enjoyed her garden, flowers, friendships with her neighbors and her family, especially her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was a volunteer for the Mennonite Central Committee Et Cetera Thrift Shop, Mennonite Heritage Center and 18 years for Meals on Wheels. She was a dedicated Christian and a member of Roanoke Mennonite Church of Eureka.

Survivors include her husband of 65 years, Kenneth; two sons, Rollin Ulrich and his wife, Velma, of Goshen, Ind., and Steven Ulrich and his wife, Naomi, of Eureka; a daughter, Debra Handrich and her husband, Rollin, of Goshen; two sisters, her twin, Ruth Ulrich of Eureka, and LaVerda McMakin of Springfield; eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by a son, Keith; a brother, Ervin Reeb; and a sister, Marian Nofsinger.

Memorial Services were held at Roanoke Mennonite Church. Burial was in Roanoke Mennonite Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Roanoke Mennonite Church, Roanoke Mennonite Cemetery or Illinois Mennonite Heritage Center.


Graber, Erwen "Erv" Wenger

Erwen “Erv” Wenger Graber, 96, died July 23, 2016, at Pine Village, Moundridge, Kan. He was born April 10, 1920, in Crawfordsville, Iowa, the son of Peter Paul and Magdalena Wenger Graber.

His life work included Civilian Public Service, farming, serving as a county social worker and doing extensive volunteer work.
He married E. Ruth Smith on Oct. 17, 1948, in Pawnee Rock, Kan. She died July 21, 2007.

Survivors include a son, Joel Graber and his wife, Barbara, of Richardson, Texas; two daughters, Pamela Graber and her husband, Melvin Wilson, of Lawrenceburg, Ky., and Suzette Kakar and her husband, Faizullah, of Kabul, Afghanistan; a brother, Calvin Graber of Goshen, Ind.; a sister, Lucille Shewmake of Dade City, Fla.; two sisters-in-law, Wanda Graber of Wayland, Iowa, and Marge Graber of Goshen, Ind.; a brother-in-law, Ken Kaufman of Hesston, Kan.; eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by a son; Max Erwen Graber; three brothers, LaVerne, Peter and Daniel; and two sisters, Verena Bitting Moore and Anna Mae Martin.

Memorial services are being held July 29, at First Mennonite Church in Moundridge.

Memorial contributions may be made to Christian Peacemaker Teams, Pine Village Wellness Center, Bluffton University or Bethel College, all in care of Moundridge Funeral Home.

Mennonite World Review - August 15, 2016 - 94th Year, No. 17 - p. 15


Stutzman, Ethel L. Miller

Ethel L. (Miller) Stutzman, 89, of Goshen, Ind., died Aug. 1, 2016. She was born Dec. 7, 1926, to D.D. and Maggie (Kuhns) Miller in Protection, Kan.

On June 19, 1948, she married W. Dale Stutzman in Wissembourg, France.

A loving and involved wife, mother, grandmother and friend, she taught third grade for 27 years, with 23 of these at Model School in Goshen. She had a zest for life. Her interests included art, music, gardening and cooking. She gave Laura Ingalls Wilder programs and explored family genealogy. Together with her husband, Dale, she enjoyed traveling and being involved at Amigo Centre.

Her life was a reflection of her strong faith, love of family and compassion for others.

She is survived by her brother, D. Paul Miller; three children, Carmen Thompson of Mishawaka, Rose Baldridge and her husband, Tim, of Goshen, and Dexter Stutzman and his wife, Cindi, of Asheville, N.C.; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 67 years, W. Dale Stutzman; a grandson, Tyrel Baldridge; and siblings Ruth Willems, Dennis Miller and Emerson Miller.

A memorial service will be held Aug. 14 at College Mennonite Church in Goshen. Cremation will take place at Yoder-Culp Crematory.

Memorial contributions may be given to Amigo Centre, Sturgis, Mich.

Mennonite World Review - August 29, 2016 - 94th Year, No. 18 - p. 15


Rittenhouse, Alice E. Plessinger

Alice E. Rittenhouse, 88, of Lansdale, Pa., died Aug. 4, 2016. She was born April 1, 1928, to Elijah and Bessie Plessinger of Denbeigh, Va.

She married Samuel M. Rittenhouse, with whom she celebrated 67 years of marriage in April.

She was educated at Grand View Hospital Nursing School and licensed as a nurse in Minnesota for 15 years. Later in life, she enjoyed teaching sewing and selling sewing machines. She enjoyed crafts of all kinds, and many friends and family were blessed with handmade sweaters, hats, mittens and scarves. Quilting became a hobby in her later years, and each of her children were blessed with a special quilt made with much love.

She will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.
Survivors include her husband, Samuel M. Rittenhouse; six children, Lois (Glen) Smucker of Orrville, Ohio, Eunice (Dan) Landis of Sellersville, Debbie (Lanny) Millette of Leola, John (Leni) Rittenhouse of Trout Run, Becky (Mike) Cody of East Greenville and Dorcas Hall of Bernville; 23 grandchildren and 36 great-grandchildren.


Krabill, Alta Louise Snyder

Alta Louise Krabill, 90, died July 3, 2016, in Lexington (Ohio) Court Care Center. She was born Sept. 21, 1925, to Bertram David and Gladys Delight (Zook) Snyder in Cheraw, Colo.

She worked on the family farm and graduated from Cheraw High School in 1942. She later attended several colleges and earned a secretarial certificate from Goshen (Ind.) College.
On Aug. 21, 1949, she married Murray Krabill.

In 1951 they moved to Fredericktown to accept a Mennonite church-planting assignment. Murray was a self-supported pastor of Gilead Mennonite Church, and he couldn’t have done it without her. For years she typed the weekly bulletins, taught Sunday school classes, often led singing for worship and was the church historian.

In 1961 they moved the family into the house they lived in, farmed, neighbored and loved. Starting with only seven cows, their dairy business grew; at its height they milked 75 cows and farmed about 1,000 acres. She had a passion for gardening and especially loved strawberries and would freeze more than 100 quarts in a season. She was well known for her doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, quilts, rag rugs and love of service.

Survivors include her husband of almost 67 years, Murray Krabill of Lexington; children Ruby Payne (Tee Bowman) of Corpus Christi, Texas, Chet (Grace) Krabill of Mount Gilead, Sharon (Stan) Swartzendruber of Hesston, Kan., John (Debra) Krabill of Fredericktown, Wesley (Susie) Krabill of West Liberty and Ruth (Scott) Weirch of Denver, Colo.; siblings Melvin Snyder of Colorado Springs, Colo., Lois Birkey of Manson, Iowa, and Alma Schloneger of Louisville; 14 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren

She was preceded in death by siblings Allen, Ruth, and Kenneth Snyder.

Funeral services were held at Gilead Mennonite Church. Burial was in Shauck Cemetery.


Krabill, Murray Wayne

Murray Wayne Krabill, 93, died July 15, 2016, at Lexington (Ohio) Court Care Center, only 12 days after his wife, Alta, died. He was born May 10, 1923, to Elmer David and Mary Ann Roth Krabill in Wayland, Iowa.

After graduating from Wayland High School in 1941, he earned his teacher’s certificate from Iowa Wesleyan College and taught in the Flowers School, the same one-room school he had attended as a child.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in Bible in 1950 from Goshen (Ind.) College and a bachelor of theology degree in 1951. At Goshen he met Alta Snyder; they were married Aug. 21, 1949.

In 1951 they moved to Fredericktown to accept a Mennonite church-planting assignment. He was the self-supported pastor of Gilead Mennonite Church for 40 years. In the 1950s he taught seven years of seventh grade in Johns­ville School.

In 1961 they moved the family into the house they lived in, farmed, neighbored and loved. Starting with only seven cows, their dairy business grew; at its height they milked 75 cows and farmed about 1,000 acres.

He will be remembered as a hardworking Christ-follower who invested in others. He leaves a legacy of Christian faith, actively pastoring not only a church family but also his growing family and his fellow man.

Survivors include his children, Ruby Payne (Tee Bowman) of Corpus Christi, Texas, Chet (Grace) Kra­bill of Mount Gilead, Sharon (Stan) Swartzendruber of Hesston, Kan., John (Debra) Krabill of Fredericktown, Wesley (Susie) Krabill of West Liberty and Ruth (Scott) Weirch of Denver, Colo.; 14 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Alta; and brothers Russell and Maurice Krabill.

Funeral services were held at Gilead Mennonite Church. Burial was in Shauck Cemetery.


Neff, Sheralynn Marie

Sheralynn Marie Neff, 26, of North Newton, Kan., died July 24, 2016, in Cushing, Okla., in a skydiving accident. She was born May 20, 1990, to Dana and Kathleen (Bitikofer) Neff in Newton.

She was a member of First Mennonite Church of Newton, where she was active in youth group and in worship music until she went to college. She cared deeply about the poor and oppressed and desired to work against injustice and for the acceptance of the marginalized.

She graduated from Newton High School in 2008 as valedictorian and a National Merit Finalist among her academic honors. She was involved in instrumental music and received regional and state honors for playing flute, and was a drum major of the marching band. She qualified for National History Day competition in 2004.
After high school she served a year in Brazil with a program of Mennonite Mission Network, developing proficiency in Portuguese and strengthening her Spanish. She graduated from Hesston College in 2011 with a degree in Bible and religion and music. She was part of the Bel Canto singers, went on a European choir tour and was in instrumental ensembles. She was also involved in campus ministry.

She then attended Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Man., graduating in 2014 in peace and conflict transformation. While at CMU she did a semester practicum through Mennonite Central Committee in Chad working with conflict resolution agencies. While in Chad she became conversant in French. She was also conversant in Haitian and American Sign Language. She spent a year teaching English in South Korea and planned to attend graduate school.

Survivors include her parents, Dana and Kathleen Neff; and a brother, Darnell Neff, all of North Newton.


Schmidt, Earl Alvin

Earl Alvin Schmidt, 93, died July 18, 2016, in North Newton, Kan. He was born Nov. 9, 1922, to Cornelius H. and Katharina (Voth) Schmidt in Walton. The youngest, he was the only child in his family to be born in a hospital.

After graduating from high school in Walton, he attended Bethel College in North Newton. Due to the circumstances of World War II, he had to leave college after only two years and return home to help on the family farm. It was during that time in college that he met the love of his life, Maxlyn Smith, in German class. They were married in rural Pawnee Rock on Oct. 12, 1946.

He was a farmer for many years. He also worked as an occupational therapist at Larned State Hospital for six years and helped build the Pawnee Rock school. After returning to Bethel to complete his degree, he taught junior high in Pawnee Rock and Larned. His memorable demonstrations and projects were just as much fun for him as they were for his students.

He was a part of Bergthal Mennonite Church throughout his life.

He was involved with many singing groups, led youth groups and taught Sunday school, volunteered with Mennonite Disaster Service, attended and helped at Camp Mennoscah, assembled Christmas bundles, school kits and comforters for Mennonite Central Committee, visited and assisted the elderly members of the congregation and pulled lots and lots of taffy to benefit MCC.

Travel was important to him, and his travel adventures began early. When he was 18, he, his brother and three other young men took off on a one-week adventure to the Ozarks in an old Model T (which he later restored). Throughout his life he continued to enjoy traveling. He also enjoyed rock hounding and science, fishing, photography and tinkering in the shed.

Survivors include a daughter, Ann Pasnick of Elmhurst, Ill.; a son, Robert (Jean) Schmidt of Roswell, Ga.; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his nine siblings; his wife, Maxlyn; and a son-in-law, Ray Pasnick.


Oswald, Rebecca Ann "Becky" Duerksen

Rebecca Ann "Becky" Oswald, 69, of Rocky Ford, Colo., died Aug. 4, 2016, at Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center-Nursing Center East in LaJunta. She was born May 27, 1947, to John Paul and Ruth (King) Duerksen in Hesston, Kan.

She married Stanley William Oswald on July 10, 1971, in Aurora, Ohio.

She graduated from high school in Hesston in 1965 and then from Hesston College in 1968 in nursing. She was a public health nurse at Otero County Health Department in Rocky Ford for 30 years, retiring in 2014. Previously she worked as an office nurse for Dr. Elmer Morgan and Dr. George Hostetler for years. She also volunteered with many health and service agencies in the Arkansas Valley.

She was a member of Rocky Ford Mennonite Church and was active there as a song leader and church council member for many years.
Survivors include her husband, Stanley; three sons, Christopher Oswald of Pueblo, Benjamin (Mary) Oswald of Moscow, Idaho, and Anthony Oswald of Pueblo; a sister-in-law, Belle of Goshen, Ind; and two grandsons.

She was preceded in death by a brother, John Duerksen.
Memorial services were held at Rocky Ford Mennonite Church.


Thomason, Karen Jean Ebersole

Karen Jean Thomason, 59, of Evans, Colo., died Aug. 2, 2016, after a determined battle against an aggressive uterine cancer, which was diagnosed April 28. She was born Dec. 2, 1956, to Lester and Fern Ebersole in Phoenix, Ariz.

Her family moved to Colorado in 1965 to a farmhouse outside of Lafayette, where they had a chicken ranch. She graduated from Centaurus High School in 1974, where she was voted “Most Athletic.”

Moving to Kansas after high school, she earned an associate of liberal arts degree. She then went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in physical education from Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kan.

She came back to Colorado to work for Longmont United Hospital as a medical transcriptionist. She was a beloved co-worker and colleague, so much so that her boss set her up on a blind date with her son, Bob, which led to 35 years of marriage. She went back to Tabor College to earn her teaching certi­ficate. While engaged she moved to Thermopolis, Wyo., to teach middle school physical education and coach the high school girls volleyball team. In 1981, she married Robert (Bob) Thomason in Lakewood.
They went to Casper, Wyo., where she worked as a medical transcriptionist for four years. In 1984 she gave birth to their only child, Matthew Robert Thomason, and two years later moved to Greeley, where they made their home since. When her son started school, she began as a medical transcriptionist for a private practice clinic in Longmont.

In 2003 she earned her master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Northern Colorado. She taught third and fourth grade at Platte Valley Elementary School in Kersey. She was a favorite teacher among many stu­dents. She worked for two years as the school secretary at Union Colony Elementary Charter School in Greeley. She started her own business as an errand runner and personal assistant.

She was a member of Cornerstone Community Church of Greeley, where she shared her musical talents. Full of love and warmth, she was recently ordained as a deacon.

Survivors include her husband, Bob Thomason, of Evans; son Matt (Giny) Thomason of Los Angeles; brothers Greg Ebersole of Mesa, Ariz., and Ken Ebersole of Lafayette.

A celebration of her life was held at Cornerstone Community Church, Greeley.


Krabill, John Lowell

John Lowell Krabill, 61, of Fredericktown, Ohio, died Aug. 19, 2016. He was born June 27, 1955, to Murray and Alta (Snyder) Krabill in Mount Gilead.

He graduated from Northmor High School in 1974. He married Debra Wright on Aug. 8, 1981, and together the two raised their family in rural Fredericktown.

As a farmer, he learned quickly that you don’t get anything you don’t work for. He’d prefer the smell of fresh country air, early mornings and late nights, and the peace that only farming can bring. Committed, he worked the land, respecting God’s creation and the life lessons it taught. Coupled with a dedicated and hard-working spirit, he was generous, offering his time and energy to help family and friends. He was a member of Johnsville Mennonite Church.

Survivors include his devoted wife, Debra Krabill, of Fredericktown; children Caleb (Luella) Krabill of Johnsville, Hannah (Jason) Hershberger of Fredericktown, Hope Krabill of Fredericktown and Ethan Krabill of Fredericktown; siblings Ruby Payne (Tee Bowman) of Corpus Christi, Texas, Chester (Grace) Krabill of Mount Gilead, Sharon (Stan) Swartzendruber of Hesston, Kan., Wesley (Susie Krabill of West Liberty, and Ruth (Scott) Weirich of Denver, Colo.; and six grandchildren.

Funeral services were held at Johnsville Mennonite Church. Burial was in Shauck Cemetery.

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