Mennonite World Review - March 2017

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

Magal, Leah Rachel Kennel ; . . Platt, LaVonne Godwin ; . . Wiebe, Mary Ann Goertz ; . .

Mennonite World Review - March 13, 2017 - 95th Year, No. 6 - p. 15


Platt, LaVonne Godwin

LaVonne Godwin Platt, 84, of rural Newton, Kan., died Feb. 8, 2017. She was born Aug. 16, 1932, to Roberta Mann Godwin and C.E. Godwin in Marquette.

She grew up in Windom, Assaria, Greenleaf, Bern and Long Island, Kan. She graduated in 1954 from the University of Kansas with a degree in home economics education.

She was active in the Methodist Student Movement at KU and met Dwight Platt in a discussion group of the Wesley Foundation. In 1956 she joined Dwight, who was working for an American Friends Service Committee Barpali village development project in India. They were married there June 21, 1956.

In 1957 they returned to the United States so Dwight could teach at Bethel College. She joined Bethel College Mennonite Church and the American Association of University Women in 1958 and continued membership in both for the rest of her life. She participated in many groups due to her concerns for peace, social justice and interracial solidarity. In 1970 they returned to India, where he taught at Sambalpur University and she did research on the effects of the Barpali development project.
She taught home economics in high school and college. She conducted workshops and seminars on world hunger issues. She tested recipes for the More with Less Cookbook and collected nutrition data for a study on aging. She wrote articles on Christian education, human rights and lifestyle choices.

She established Wordsworth Publishing Co. and published Bela Banerjee, Bringing Health to India’s Villages, which she wrote, and 19 books by other authors. She wrote children’s stories, played piano and autoharp, sang, put up many winters of garden produce and welcomed refugees to the community.

Survivors include her husband of 60 years, Dwight Platt; two children, Kamala Platt and Richard (Juliet Brown) Platt; and a brother, Duane Godwin.

She was preceded in death by a brother, Galen Godwin.
A life celebration will be held March 16 at Bethel College Mennonite Church.


Wiebe, Mary Ann Goertz

Mary Ann Wiebe, 80, of Whitewater, Kan., died Feb. 16, 2017, of lung cancer. She was born Feb. 12, 1937, to Henry I. and Anna (Schmidt) Goertz of rural Goessel.

She attended the rural Springfield school, Goessel High School and Bethel College in North Newton. She spent two summers working in Evanston, Ill., as a secretary, where she met Willard J. Wiebe of Whitewater. They were married on Oct. 16, 1959, at Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church, rural Goessel.

She also worked as a secretary for the General Conference Mennonite Church, was involved in many church and community groups and enjoyed puzzles, quilting and feeding birds. She was active on the farm, helping drive tractor, combine and truck, and fixing many field lunches. Two children were adopted into the family, a daughter, Teresa Ann, and a son, Christopher Jon. She later became a proud grandmother to four grandchildren.

Survivors include her husband, Willard J. Wiebe, of Whitewater; a daughter, Teresa (James) Martin of Dorrance; a son, Chris (Catina) Wiebe of Whitewater; sister-in-law Agnes Harder and her husband, Edgar, of Whitewater; and four grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by an older sister who died in infancy; sisters-in-law Helen Friesen and her husband, Willard, of Mountain Lake, Minn., and Irma Robbins of Newton; and brother-in-law Howard Wiebe of Gentry, Ark.

Funeral services were held at Grace Hill Mennonite Church, rural Whitewater.


Magal, Leah Rachel Kennel

Leah Rachel Kennel Magal, 92, died Feb. 6, 2017, on Peaks Island, Maine. She was born Aug. 23, 1924.

One of 11 children, she was raised in the Mennonite tradition on a farm in Gap, Pa. She enjoyed being part of a rambunctious and hardworking family. As a young adult she yearned for an education, so at age 21 she pursued a science degree at Eastern Mennonite College in Harrisonburg, Va. There she met her future husband, Ivan Vasil Magal, the first foreign student at EMC. Their lives revolved around their four children and his work as a physician and minister.

Always passionate about the wonders and beauty of nature, she was a volunteer at the Smithsonian Institution’s Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C., for more than 20 years. She loved birds and could often be found with her bird book and binoculars in hand. She combined her love for nature, hiking and travel by taking numerous trips to Western and Eastern Europe, Alaska, Africa, Central America, Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Australia and the United States. Filled with creative and artistic talents, she spent hours pursuing her love of photography, plants and gardening.

She had a deep faith in a loving and just God. This was reflected in the way she approached life’s challenges and in the kindness and gentleness she showed to others, especially when they were struggling or suffering.

Survivors include a son, Charles (Helen Stamatacos) Magal; three daughters, Phyllis Magal, Emily (Jim Greenwell) Magal and Trish (Joel Hoefle) Magal; a sister, Naomi Kennel Yoder; and five grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Ivan Vasil Magal.

At the memorial gathering at Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, her children lit four candles in her honor that represented the four characteristics they felt best exemplified her: courage, faith, grace and love.

She was buried next to her husband at Mount Clinton Mennonite Church in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.


There were no obituaries in our March 27, 2017 issue of Mennonite World Review.

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