Mennonite World Review - January 2018

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

Bender, Titus William ; . . Claassen, Curt Albert ; . . Goering, Wilda M. Metzger ; . . Harnish, Ruth Fern Martin ; . . Jantzen, Matilda M. "Tillie" Mueller ; . . Kabira, Wandalee Weaver ; . . King, Oliver C. ; . . Wetzel, Conrad L. ; . . Yoder, Isabelle King ; . .

Mennonite World Review - January 1, 2018 - 96th Year, No. 1 - p. 15



Claassen, Curt Albert

Curt Albert Claassen, 99, of Berne, Ind., died Nov. 15, 2017, at Adams Memorial Hospital. He was born Sept. 28, 1918, to Edward and Catherine Claassen in rural Whitewater, Kan.

He married Olga Schultz on June 1, 1944, in Dallas, Ore.

He attended Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University) where he studied Bible to prepare for mission work. At Biola he met Olga. In later years he studied at UCLA, completed a bachelor’s degree at Goshen College and studied at Denver Seminary.

He and Olga left for missionary service in India with the General Conference Mennonite Church in December 1945, where they served the churches of Mauhadi, Janjgir, Champa and Korba until 1973. Their faithful service included village evangelism, mentoring Indian evangelists, teaching in a Bible school, preaching and teaching, nurturing Christians in scattered villages and planting churches in Korba’s urban industrial areas.

They were extremely disappointed when, in 1975, their visas to re-enter India were denied. He was then invited to join the staff of First Mennonite Church in Berne, where he and Olga quickly felt at home. Their gifts suited them well with his roles of associate and visitation pastor, and hers of hospitality and prayer. He continued on staff at First Mennonite for 20 years, until he was 77.

His zeal for Jesus Christ characterized him with joy, love and kind­ness, which touched all around him. His deep trust in God brought a steady peace even when things were difficult. From a very young age he played hymns and gospel songs on the piano, continuing to do so until just prior to his death.

Survivors include four sons, Lloyd (Gail) of Seattle, Wash., Gordon (Yarna) of Modesto, Calif., Eldon (Jan) of Fort Wayne and Loren (Patricia) of Columbus, Ohio; two sisters-in-law, Verbena Claassen and Martha Claassen; six grandchildren and two great-grandsons.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Olga, in 2010; nine brothers and three sisters.

Memorial services were held at First Mennonite Church in Berne. A private family burial took place in the MRE Cemetery, Berne. Memorial contributions may be for First Mennonite Church Missions.



Jantzen, Matilda M. "Tillie" Mueller

Matilda (Tillie) Mueller Jantzen, 99, died Dec. 15, 2017, at Schowalter Villa, Hesston, Kan. She was born April 18, 1918, in Deer Creek, Okla.

She graduated from Dalhart (Texas) High School in 1935. She went on to Bible studies at Biola in Los Angeles, Calif., graduating in the spring of 1942.

She married Lubin Jantzen on Aug. 6, 1943, at Immanuel Mennonite Church in Los Angeles.

They both worked at Oklahoma Bible Academy in Meno. Feeling God’s call to mission work, they went to India in April 1947 under the General Conference Mennonite Church. They experienced India’s independence from the British Raj and the partition that led to the creation of modern India and Pakistan. For 35 years they served as missionaries in evangelism, then in leadership of mission schools at two mission stations. She was founder and principal of Beacon English School, a school for the children of industrial workers. They ended their many years in India on the staff at Union Biblical Seminary in Pune.

They then relocated to Newton, Kan., where she clerked at Faith and Life Bookstore and supported Lubin in pastoring churches in Newton and the surrounding area. In 2004 they published their autobiography, Guided Lives: Memoirs of a Mennonite Missionary Couple to India.

She loved to read and was an excellent seamstress and cook. She had a creative imagination that showed in her pottery-making and home decorating, in solving problems in the wide variety of work she was called on to perform in India and in maintaining a busy schedule of hosting friends, family and mission co-workers.

Survivors include a brother, Harold (Romy) Mueller of Modesto, Calif.; a daughter, Esther of Los Angeles; three sons, Dan (Betty) Jantzen of Arvada, Colo., Jim (Susan) Jantzen of Hillsboro and Jon (Mary Beth) Jantzen of Tucson, Ariz.; seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Lubin; three brothers, Alfred Mueller, Herbert Mueller and Edgar Mueller; and two sisters, Linda Kaufman and Olga Franey.

A memorial service will be held at First Mennonite Church, Newton, on Jan. 6. Memorials may be directed to Mennonite Mission Network.

Mennonite World Review - January 15, 2018 - 96th Year, No. 2 - p. 15



Goering, Wilda M. Metzger

Wilda M. (Metzger) Goering, 90, died Dec. 8, 2017, at Greencroft Healthcare, Goshen, Ind. She was born Dec. 9, 1926, to Paul A. and Madeline (Jones) Metzger in Philadelphia.

On Sept. 13, 1952, she married Paul L. Goering at Marquand Chapel, Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Conn. He preceded her in death on Sept. 26, 2014.

Together they raised and nurtured their family, first in Upland, Calif., (where he was pastor at First Mennonite Church, 1952-61); then Wichita, Kan. (pastor at Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, 1961-69), and then in Goshen (pastor at Eighth Street Mennonite, 1969-78).

She graduated from Bucknell University and Hahnemann Hospital School of Nursing, Philadelphia. In 1971, she began work as a nurse in the Goshen General Hospital pediatrics department and retired in 1986. She was a member of Eighth Street Mennonite Church since 1969.

Her hobbies included devouring several novels each month, working crossword puzzles (in ink) and tending her flower gardens. When her children were young, she volunteered for many school activities and served as a Cub Scout den mother. She was a founding member of the Carter Road Flora and Fauna Society in Goshen. She relished hosting gatherings and dinners in her home. In her late 70s, during annual “snowbird” visits to Phoenix, she participated with the local Women in Black chapter in silent vigils to bear witness against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Survivors include three children, Kurt A. (Teresa) Goering of Phoenix, Peter L. (Sara) Goering of Silver Spring, Md., and Paula G. (Gordon) Harms of Rochester, Minn.; a brother, Paul A. Metzger Jr. of Chapel Hill, N.C.; and four grandsons.

Memorial services were held at Eighth Street Mennonite Church. Burial of her ashes will be at the cemetery of First Mennonite Church of Christian, Moundridge, Kan., Paul’s boyhood congregation.

Memorial gifts may be given to Eighth Street Mennonite Church, Goshen, or Mennonite Central Committee.



Wetzel, Conrad L.

Conrad L. Wetzel, 86, died Oct. 17, 2017, at Delmar Gardens in Lenexa, Kan. He was born Sept. 16, 1931, the seventh of 14 children of Harry and Gertrude (Carson) Wetzel in Tennessee, Ill. The family later farmed in rural Colchester.

A lifelong passion for church music and religious history was first kindled at Camp Creek Church of the Brethren, and he was baptized there in 1942. He graduated from Colchester High School in 1949 and Manchester College in 1958.

He and Martyne Landis Ruth met at Reba Place Fellowship in Evanston, Ill., and discovered they both came from big, music-loving farm families. They married Jan. 14, 1961.

They moved to Urbana-Champaign, where he earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Illinois in 1969.
They moved to rural Tiskilwa, Ill., in 1971, where they were members of Plow Creek Mennonite Fellowship for many years. Other church homes included Champaign Church of the Brethren, First Mennonite Church (Champaign) and Roanoke Mennonite Church.
He worked as a Mennonite minister and as a psychologist. Employers included Chicago State Hospital, Quad County Counseling Center in Princeton, Ill., and Zeller Zone Center in Peoria.

He played piano for family gatherings and church services, and during the folk music revival became a fan of Pete Seeger and taught himself to play the banjo. He and Martyne enjoyed singing in choruses, such as the Chicago Symphony Chorus and the University of Illinois Oratorio Society.

He never lost his enthusiasm for the birds, trees and wildflowers he loved while growing up in western Illinois. For many years he participated in the bird counts conducted by the Audubon Society, and he was an avid gardener and stargazer.

Survivors include three sons, Bruce (Sandy) Wetzel in Lenexa, Carson Wetzel in Chicago; Allen (Rickie Lee) Wetzel in Delavan, Wis.; six siblings, Eldon Wetzel, Jack Wetzel, Jean Wetzel, Luanne Steiner, Karen Dean and Joe Wetzel; and two granddaughters.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Martyne; and seven siblings, Burdette Wetzel, Harriet Cordell, Doris Vance, Andrew Wetzel, Lillian Webb, Dick Wetzel and Glenna Purdy.
Memorial services were held at Argyle Bible Church, Colchester, Ill.



Bender, Titus William

Titus William Bender, 85, of Harrisonburg, Va., died Dec. 8, 2017, at Fairfax Inova Hospital. He was born June 26, 1932, to Nevin and Esther Bender in Greenwood, Del.

After graduating from Lancaster Mennonite High School, he attended Eastern Mennonite College, where he met his wife of 59 years, Anna (Ann) Yoder, whom he married on Aug. 2, 1958.

They moved to Meridian, Miss., where they directed the voluntary service unit for 11 years. He was involved in the Freedom Summer of 1964, when many people came to Mississippi to help with voter registration. He was a member of ministries that focused on rebuilding churches and helped organize Mennonite Disaster Service projects. He was a founder of Pine Lake Fellowship Camp, one of the first integrated camps in the South and a place where members of the Choctaw, African-American and white communities could gather. He was pastor of Fellowship Mennonite Church in Meridian.

In 1969, he and Anna moved to New Orleans to attend Tulane University, where he received his doctorate in social work. He taught in social work for four years at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Then they moved to Harrisonburg, where he taught at Eastern Mennonite University for 22 years. He was a key founder of Gemeinschaft Home, a halfway house for nonviolent offenders, served on the State Chaplain Services Board and was a founder of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Harrisonburg. In 1998, he and Ann received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Virginia chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Much of his work included fighting for the inclusion of marginalized people. He believed this was the central message of Jesus.

Survivors include his wife, Anna; three children, Anita (Ellen Brisch) Bender of Moorhead, Minn., Maria (Joseph) Archer of Harrisonburg and Michael (Lori) Bender of Ladysmith, B.C.; six siblings, Miriam Jantzi of Lima, Ohio, Paul Bender of Dover, Del., Hilda Swartz of Bedford, Mass., Emma Myers of Philadelphia, Miss., Nevin Bender of Harrisonburg and Donald Bender of Atlanta, Ga.; six grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

He preceded in death by two sisters, Lura Benner and Mildred Bender.

Memorial contributions may be made to Pine Lake Fellowship Camp, Meridian, Miss., or to Eastern Mennonite Elementary School, Harrisonburg.

Mennonite World Review - January 29, 2018 - 96th Year, No. 3 - p. 15



Yoder, Isabelle King

Isabelle K. Yoder, 100, of Newport News, Va., died Jan. 6, 2018. She was born Lola Isabelle King on March 10, 1917, to Abe and Alice King of West Liberty, Ohio.

She married John Otis Yoder on June 23, 1939.

Survivors include two children, John O. (Arlene) Yoder II of Mount Joy, Pa., and Constance Y. Heatwole of Newport News; a sister, Nancy Wood; five grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

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

Memorial services were held at McMullen Funeral Home, Harrisonburg. Burial was in Lindale Mennonite Church Cemetery, Harrisonburg.

Memorial contributions may be sent to Heralds of Hope for Bibles.



King, Oliver C.

Oliver C. King, 94, of Morton, Ill., died Dec. 27, 2017, at UnityPoint Health-Methodist, Peoria. He was born March 30, 1923, to Joseph B. and Katie M. Roggy King in Chenoa.

He graduated from Toluca High School in 1941. He married Edith I. Roth on Nov. 24, 1946, at Bethel Mennonite Church, rural Pekin.

They operated their family farm in the Morton area for many years, later expanding to Woodford and McLean counties. As a lifelong farmer, he was diligent in caring for and improving his farm ground and instilled the values of hard work to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In retirement he continued to be involved in the family farm, last operating the combine when he was 85 years old. His life centered around his faith and family. He and Edith enjoyed many winters in Arizona, cherishing long-lasting friendships established there.
He was a member of Tazewell County Farm Bureau, First Mennonite Church of Morton, a former member of Bethel Mennonite Church of Pekin, and an Illinois Mennonite Relief Sale volunteer for many years.

Survivors include two daughters, Lois King of Morton and Mary Ellen (Darrell) Andris of Normal; two sons, David (Gladys) King and Daniel (Doris) King, all of Morton; eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Edith, on Aug. 23, 2013; seven brothers, Floyd, Alvin, Lloyd, Harold, Harley, Myrle and Joe; and two sisters, Blanche Stutzman and Elaine Schirer.

Funeral services were held at First Mennonite Church, Morton. Burial was in Pleasant Grove Mennonite Cemetery, rural Tremont.
Memorials may be made to Illinois Mennonite Historical and Genealogical Society, Metamora, or First Mennonite Church, Morton.



Harnish, Ruth Fern Martin

Ruth Fern Harnish, 90, of Eureka, Ill., died Nov. 23, 2017. She was born April 16, 1927, to Perry and Annie (Wenger) Martin in Harrisonburg, Va.

She married Robert Harnish on June 9, 1951, in Harrisonburg, Va.
She attended Goshen (Ind.) College in 1947 and graduated from La Junta (Colo.) Mennonite School of Nursing and became a registered nurse in 1951. She served with her husband for 22 years at Highway Village Mennonite Church in East Peoria. Her life was busy working in the church, the community and home. She was a homemaker, raised her children and helped in the church as a pastor’s wife. Later she worked as a nurse at Good Samaritan Home in Flanagan and Maple Lawn Homes in Eureka and then as a chaplain at Maple Lawn Homes.

She loved sewing, the garden and raising flowers, especially roses. She had a passion for studying family genealogy and gathering family stories. There was a special place in her heart for children.

She strove to be a kind and loving person. Even when she could no longer communicate verbally, she would communicate with her smile. She trusted and loved Jesus and was grateful for his immeasurable love and grace. She was a member of Roanoke Mennonite Church in Eureka.

Survivors include her husband, Robert; five children, Robert (Carol) Brunk Harnish of Colorado Springs, Colo., Suzanne (Joe) Gerber of Rio Rico, Ariz., Mary (Nick) Rush of Afton, Va., Rick (Annette) Harnish of Flanagan and Stephen (Monica) Harnish of Bluffton, Ohio; two sisters, Virginia Derstine and Margaret Weaver, and a brother, John Martin, all of Harrisonburg, Va.; 11 grandchildren; a great-granddaughter and two great-grandsons.

She was preceded in death by a sister, Mary; and four brothers, Robert, Weldon, Sanford and Ralph.

Memorials may be made to Roanoke Mennonite Church or Mennonite Central Committee.



Kabira, Wandalee Weaver

Wandalee Kabira, 88, of Yokohama, Japan, died Jan. 11, 2018, at Saiseikai Chuo Hospital in Tokyo. She was born March 10, 1929, to Albert and Ruth (Grove) Weaver in Newton, Kan., and grew up on a family farm south of Hesston.

As a youth she became a follower of Christ and was baptized in Pennsylvania Mennonite Church (now Whitestone Mennonite Church) near Hesston. She graduated from Hesston Academy in 1947 and Hesston College in 1949. After a year of Mennonite Voluntary Service, she attended and graduated from Goshen (Ind.) College in 1952.

After teaching at a one-room school in rural Kansas, she attended Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., and received a master’s degree in education in 1955. There she met her future husband, Chosei Kabira from Okinawa, Japan, who was a graduate student. After MSU, she taught English at Hesston Academy and college.

She married Chosei Kabira on Nov. 1, 1957, at Mihara Episcopal Church in Naha, Japan.

They lived in Okinawa until 1972. She taught high school social studies to American students attending the school on the U.S. military base on the island. They then moved to Tokyo. After a brief period of being a homemaker, she taught high school and middle school social studies at the American School in Japan, a private school for English-speaking expatriates living in the capital. She retired from teaching in 1990. She then worked part time at the Immigration Information Center in downtown Tokyo assisting foreigners with their visa and immigration processes.

She enjoyed reading, gardening, walking, traveling, Japanese pottery, family parties and church activities. In recent years a Bible study group met every Wednesday at her home. She also belonged to many book clubs and enjoyed the friends she made.

Survivors include her husband, Chosei; three children, Jon, Ken G. and Jay; and three grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by three siblings, Albert Jr., Gene and Don.

Memorial services were held at Aoba Christ Church in Yokohama.

Copyright 2003 - 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.