July - September 2021
Mennonite World Review & The Mennonite merged September 2020
Anabaptist World, July 9, 2021, p. 43, Vol. 2, No. 9.
Varona, Rachel Ann Albrecht
November 3, 1933 - May 8, 2021
Varona.- Rachel Anna Albrecht, 87, of Eureka, Ill., died May 8, 2021, at Maple Lawn Homes Nursing Center. She was born Nov. 3, 1933, to Wilbur and Ruth (Schrock) Albrecht. She was baptized at Waldo Mennonite Church near Flanagan, Ill., in 1946. She attended Flanagan High School for three years and then transferred to Hesston Academy in Kansas, followed by two years at Hesston College. She graduated in 1956 from La Junta Mennonite School of Nursing in Colorado and in 1965 from Goshen College in Indiana with a bachelor's degree in nursing.
After graduation, her first job was at Maple Lawn Nursing Home in Eureka. Then she transferred to Bethesda Mennonite Mission Church in the inner city of St. Louis. She served there 10 years and supported herself by working at Homer Phillip Hospital in the newborn nursery with the Visiting Nurses Association and as an instructor at Barnes Hospital School of Nursing. Serving at Bethesda was a highlight of her career and her true calling. She was a member of Roanoke Mennonite Church in Eureka.
In 1970 she became director of nursing at Golden Age Nursing Home in Amarillo, Texas. There she met Frank Varona. They were married on Aug. 17, 1973. After marriage she worked in home care and geriatrics. In retirement she continued to show her love for the elderly by volunteering in nursing homes. She treasured her Mennonite heritage along with the many local Christian fellowships she attended, sharing the vision of healing, hope and salvation through Christ alone.
Survivors include two sisters, Doris Zehr of Grand Rapids, Mich., and Shirley Bachman of Godfrey; and a sister-in-law, Linda Albrecht of Gibson City. She was preceded in death by her husband, Frank; a brother, Jerry Albrecht; and brothers-in-law David Zehr and Wesley Bachman. Burial will be in Llano Cemetery in Amarillo, Texas. Online condolences may be sent to argoruestmanharris.com.
Gingrich, Orpha W. Wert
December 27, 1926 - March 30, 2021
Gingrich.- Orpha W., 94, of Evendale, Pa., died March 30, 2021. She was born Dec. 27, 1926, to Michael W. and Alma (Lauver) Wert in Fayette Township, Juniata County. On June 22, 1947, she married J. Lloyd Gingrich, with whom she shared 72 years of marriage. They farmed for many years in Evendale. She attended Fayette High School and graduated from Eastern Mennonite High School in 1942.
Her employment included working in the McAlisterville sewing factory for two years it and teaching at a Liberty one-room school and at Belleville Mennonite School after having attended Millersville Teacher's College. She was a homemaker who enjoyed her children and their families, for whom she prayed every day. Opening her home to others, even those from around the world, her warm and accepting spirit blessed many. She enjoyed gardening, preserving food, making butter and selling it, and sewing. A highlight was a trip to Europe and the Holy Land.
Her church membership included Lauvers Mennonite Church in Evendale, where she will be remembered as a Sunday school teacher for many years. She loved reading, especially the Bible, and memorized 1 John and a significant amount of the Gospel of John. For many years she led neighborhood Bible studies.
Survivors include her children, Margaret (Tim) Varner of McAlisterville, John M. (Rosanne) Gingrich of Richfield, David (Phyllis) Gingrich of Thompsontown, Dale (Gladys) Gingrich of Richfield, Barbara Gingrich of Richfield, Paul (Debra) Gingrich of Dillsburg and Marie (Kirk) Vredevelt of Alto, Mich.; siblings Gladys (Jesse) Yoder of Delaware, Freda Zehr of Virginia, Alma Jean (Harvey) Yoder of Virginia, L. Lloyd (Beverly) Wert of Lancaster and Ruth Ann (Allen) Shirk of Lancaster; 20 grandchildren; 28 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, J. Lloyd Gingrich, on April 11, 2020; a brother, Harold (Mary) Wert; a sister, Alene (Mark) Yoder; and a brother-in-law, Vernon Zehr. A celebration of life for both J. Lloyd and Orpha Gingrich was held at Lauvers Mennonite Church, Richfield. Burial was in Lauvers Mennonite Cemetery.
CORRECTION: Joanne Buhler Voth's name was incorrectly given as Joanna in a June 18 obituary headline. AW regrets the error.
Transcribed by: John Ingold
Anabaptist World, August 6, 2021, pages 46-47, Vol. 2, No. 10.
Horst, Samuel Levi
July 18, 1919 - January 6, 2021
Horst-. Samuel Levi, 101, died Jan. 6, 2021, in Harrisonburg, Va. He was born July 18, 1919, to Elmer and Katie (Buckwalter) Horst in Berks County, Pa. Growing up during the Depression, he combined thrifty resourcefulness with a drive toward education. His pacifist convictions led him to enroll in Civilian Public Service, which included time in California as a firefighter and at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey. Higher education included studies at Eastern Mennonite College, Goshen College, American University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Virginia, where he earned his doctorate. A historian, he dedicated his work to teaching and research at Eastern Mennonite University, authoring and co-authoring numerous books and articles about Mennonite history and the Black experience during the Civil War and Reconstruction. He integrated his scholarship with engagement in community efforts such as the local Human Relations Council and broader involvements like Amnesty International.
He married Elizabeth Good on June 19, 1948, and settled in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. They were members of Park View Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg. He enjoyed connections with strangers, neighborhood walks, Saturday tennis, swimming, purposefully getting lost on country drives, reading aloud to his young children and visiting geographically or historically significant sites in the Shenandoah Valley. His avid news consumption and knowledge of geography and political science informed his active objection to war and to social and racial injustices. His sense of adventure in pursuing academic goals provided expansive new experiences for his family with temporary relocations to Washington, Baltimore and Charlottesville. Elizabeth preceded him in death in 1991. In 1995, he married Mary Ellen Stutzman, who preceded him in death in 2013. Survivors include six children, Kenneth Horst (Mary Beth Wills), Hannah Horst Schertz, Sylvia Horst (Ross Bender), Barbara Horst, Mary Horst (David Buchanan), and Carol Horst (Bruce Shafer); a sister, Orpah Kurtz; a brother, John Horst; six grandchildren and three step-grandchildren. In addition to his wives, he was preceded in death by six brothers, Irvin, Paul, Elmer, Leon, Luke and Clarence; a sister, Anna Kathryn; and a granddaughter, Julia Elizabeth Schertz.
Sollenberger, Erma Mae Zimmerman
April 11, 1934 - February 1, 2021
Sollenberger-. Erma Mae, 81, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., died Feb. 1, 2021, at Messiah Village. She was born April 11, 1934, to Paul M. Zimmerman Sr. and Naomi (Longenecker) Zimmerman in Hummelstown. She graduated from Messiah Academy in 1952 and then earned her nursing degree at Harrisburg School of Nursing in 1956. She worked as a registered nurse at various hospitals before working at Messiah Village as a nurse. She was a member of Slate Hill Mennonite Church. She enjoyed making ceramics, needlework, crocheting and her flowers. Survivors include her husband, Ira B. Sollenberger; three children, Marcus A. (Glenna) Sollenberger of Dallas, Texas, Henry L. Sollenberger of Sharon and Melanie J. Sollenberger of Mount Joy; five siblings, George Zimmerman of Thompsontown, Grace Wallet, Paul Zimmerman Jr. and Jay Zimmerman, all of Mechanicsburg, and Eunice Martin of Ephrata; and two grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be made to Slate Hill Mennonite Church.
Miller, Chris J.
February 28, 1933 - June 5, 2021
Miller-. Chris J., 88, of Denver, Colo., died June 5, 2021, after a short illness. He was born Feb. 28, 1933, to Jacob E. and Polly (Helmuth) Miller in Arthur, Ill. He was raised in an Amish/conservative Mennonite family. As a young man he followed his pacifist beliefs, doing alternative service with a milk-testing program in Wisconsin. It was there that he learned to fly small airplanes, fulfilling a lifelong interest. His career with United Airlines began in Chicago and continued in Los Angeles, Lombard, Ill., and Denver. He was a member of First Mennonite Church of Denver since the mid-1960s. While he only completed eighth grade originally, he was a lifelong learner and graduated with a bachelor's degree in sociology from Denver's Metropolitan State College in 1972.
Education was a great value, and he urged his children to follow their questions. He took pleasure in challenging his children to consider multiple points of view and see the world's complexity. He was curious about the world and spent many evenings reading in the local library. He loved to travel, always fascinated by the mystery of "what's out there?" Occasionally his children would come home from school to an impromptu outing to Los Angeles, where they would walk on the beach for a few hours then take the next eight back home. Determined that his children be comfortable and equipped to explore the world independently, he taught them to ride city buses in elementary school.
He enjoyed airplanes and travel and worked 35 years for United Airlines. After retiring from United, he enjoyed working for an auto drive-away company, delivering cars around the country and taking time to visit Amish and Mennonite communities and make connections with his extended family. In his later years, he relished getting to know his grandchildren and sharing in their interests and achievements. Survivors include his wife, Lola Miller; a daughter, Anita Miller (Steve Stutzman); a son, Tim (Tracy) Miller; and four grandchildren, all in the Denver area.
Transcribed by: John Ingold
Anabaptist World, August 27, 2021, pages 42-43, Vol. 2, No. 11.
Coon, Robert Russell
February 17, 1931 - July 28, 2021
Coon-. Robert Russell, 90, of Goshen, Ind., died July 28, 2021, at Greencroft Goshen. He was born Feb. 17, 1931, to Hugh and Cora Coon in Dayton, Ohio. He was baptized at a Grace Brethren church in Dayton and asked to preach his first sermon at 14. The pastor inquired if he might be interested in becoming a minister. After high school he joined the Marines and went on reserve for a year. While there he heard a call from God to go into the Christian ministry. His experience helped him as a pastor when he counseled young conscientious objectors in his churches during the Vietnam War. He attended Grace College in Winona Lake, then Bluffton College in Ohio, where he earned a bachelor's degree in history. He concluded that he couldn't bring himself to take a life, which, combined with his interest in a Mennonite pastor's daughter, Helen Neufeld, and the tutelage of several professors, led him to a position of pacifism and to study at Bethany (Mennonite) Seminary, then in Chicago.
He and Helen served at First Mennonite Church in Chicago, Flanagan Mennonite in Illinois, First Mennonite of Christian, Moundridge, Kan., Bethany Mennonite, Quakertown, Pa., Cordell Mennonite, Deer Creek Mennonite and Turpin Mennonite in Oklahoma, and two congregations in Pekin and East Peoria, Ill. Upon his retirement, they served a year as curators at Menno-Hof in Shipshewana and made their home in Topeka, where they joined Topeka Mennonite Church. He wrote for Mennonite publications and anthologies on Mennonite history, pacifism and inclusion. He spent his retirement as a curator for the Topeka Historical Society Depot and researching his family genealogy. He and Helen wrote Faith of Our Mothers and Fathers, an Anabaptist history in story and song, which they performed for churches and other gatherings.
He advocated for mental health support and acceptance for pastors and their families. His own experience with depression led him to promote measures that would help others struggling with mental illness. In his last years he lived at Greencroft. He joined Silverwood Mennonite Church. Survivors include a son, Russell (Kathy) Coon; two daughters, Cathy Coon (Merv) Bitikofer and Dorothy Coon; five grandchildren and many great-and great-great-grandchildren. Helen preceded him in death in 2006.
Lederach, Naomi Kauffman
October 22, 1932 - July 24, 2021
Lederach-. Naomi Kauffman, 88, of Goshen, Ind., died July 24, 2021. She was born Oct. 22, 1932, to Amsa H. Kauffman and Nona Marie Miller Kauffman in Goshen. With her parents serving in South Texas under Mennonite Board of Missions, she attended grade school in Texas and completed high school at Hesston Academy in Kansas. In 1954, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in science and nursing from Goshen College. She completed her master's degree in nursing with honors at Wichita State University in 1978.
She married John Mensch Lederach at Clinton Brick Mennonite Church, Goshen. Starting their marriage in Dunlap, John served as the pastor of Sunnyside Mennonite Church, and she worked as a nurse in the Elkhart Hospital. In 1957, the young family moved to Hubbard/Whiskey Hill, Ore. For the 10 years that John was pastor at Zion Mennonite Church, she used her musical gifts to lead children's choirs. In 1968, they joined the faculty at Hesston College, where they taught for 16 years. During a sabbatical year they lived in Jerusalem, where she taught at Bethlehem University and helped create the curriculum for the Arab School of Nursing in Ramallah. By 1984, they had moved to Lancaster, Pa., to serve as master clinicians with Philhaven Hospital. They jointly developed and served as founding directors of Recovery of Hope, a marital therapy program.
Upon retirement from Philhaven, they volunteered with Mennonite Central Committee in Northern Ireland. She worked with cross-community groups during the "Troubles" between Catholics and Protestants. Over the decades, she and John hosted more than 40 TourMagination trips to the Middle East, Europe, Scandinavia, the Caribbean and Alaska. Through her extraordinary grace and deeply held convictions, she showed others that actions and voices must always bend toward justice. Her life illustrated the essence of compassion.
Survivors include her husband of 68 years, John; three children, John Paul (Wendy Liechty) of Silverthorne, Colo., Philip K. (Lisa Herr) of Goshen and Elizabeth Marie (Lori Clanton) of Clovis, Calif.; 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Memorial services were held at College Mennonite Church in Goshen. Memorial gifts may be given to Beth "Let Her Rock" Lederach Social Justice Scholarship, Clovis High School.
Jantzi, Glendon C.
April 19, 1927 - July 22, 2021
Jantzi-. Glendon C., 94, of Goshen, Ind., died July 22, 2021, at Greencroft Health Care. He was born April 19, 1927, to Michael and Alma(Zehr) Jantzi in Alden, N.Y. On June 19, 1965, he married Vlasta Maria Cvitanovich in Long Island, N.Y. He graduated from Eastern Mennonite High School, Harrisonburg, Va., and received his bachelor's degree from Goshen College. He served with Mennonite Central Committee in Jordan in the early 1950s. He later received his master of divinity degree from Hartford Seminary Foundation of Religion and Psychiatry, New York City. He served as a director of Clinical Pastoral Educatior at Bellevue in New York City for 33 years and retired in 2000.
He was a member of Eighth Street Mennonite Church, Goshen. Survivors include a daughter, Mona (Matthew Connor) Jantzi of Broomall, Pa.; and two grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Vlasta Jantzi; a sister, Lonabelle Christina Yoder; and two brothers, Lewellen and Donald Jantzi. His cremated remains will be scattered at the Greencroft Memorial Garden. A memorial service will take place at a later time.
Ward, Amy Louise Friesen
April 25, 1961 - July 31, 2021
Ward-. Amy Louise Friesen, 60, of Manhattan, Kan., died July 31, 2021, at KU Medical Center in Kansas City from complications of ovarian cancer. She was born April 25, 1961, to Wanda and Vern Friesen in Tucson, Ariz. She attended school in Manhattan and graduated from Bethel College in 1983 with a degree in speech and drama. While there, she was active with the Thresher speech and forensic teams and won the prestigious Thresher Award. She may be best remembered for her lead role in the comedy Arsenic and Old Lace presented at Bethel. Friends at Bethel enjoyed her quirky sense of humor and warm personality.
She returned to Manhattan, where she met and married Eric Ward. They raised their family in Manhattan. They were active in the Living Word Church where they had met, and she served on the worship team for many years. She channeled her talents for drama into her work at Flint Hills Christian School in Manhattan. She served as school librarian, building the library with her for the humorous and creative. Elementary children loved to hear her dramatic storytelling. She made reading fun! Scores of students worked under her supervision to produce school play productions. She was a Mary Kay consultant in her spare time, putting on many parties and sessions for friends and family.
Survivors include her mother, Wanda Friesen, in California; a son, Josh Ward of Manhattan; a daughter, Kendra (Eric) Lind of Topeka; a brother, Jeff Friesen; three sisters, Janelle (Brian) Epp of Hesston, Dallas Garner Lake of Topeka and Hailey Friesen of Junction City; and one grandchild.
Transcribed by: John Ingold
Anabaptist World September 17, 2021, pages 46-47, Vol. 2, No.12.
Handrich, Mary Elizabeth Lehman
September 15, 1922 - August 11, 2021
Handrich.- Mary Elizabeth, 98, died Aug. 11, 2021, in Valparaiso, Ind. She was born Sept. 15 1922, to Joseph and Stella (Sharp) Lehman in Kenmare, N.D. She was baptized at Spring Valley Mennonite Church in Kenmare. Six years after her father died in 1928, her mother moved the family to Fairview, Mich., where She graduated from Fairview High School in 1940. She studied one year at Hesston College in Kansas. She married Willard Handrich on Dec. 31, 1941. From 1942 to 1945, while Willard served in Civilian Public Service, she worked as a school secretary, housekeeper and nanny. They traveled to his service locations in Pennsylvania, Montana and Florida. In 1945 they settled in Millersburg, Mich., where Willard was a partner in a seed and grain elevator business. Four years later they moved to Grand Marais, Mich., where they founded Grand Marais Mennonite Church.
From 1966 to 1978, they were owner-operators of Grand Marais Industries. She led an active life as a homemaker, church worker, 4-H leader, bookkeeper, seamstress, gardener, food preserver, mother, grandmother and friend. In retirement, she and Willard divided their time between Grand Marais and Alamo, Texas, where they volunteered, walked and bicycled in the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge. They enjoyed travel, visiting numerous countries and many U.S. states. She spent her final years in Valparaiso, where she continued her love of reading, singing and laughing.
Survivors include one son, Roderick Handrich; three daughters, Carla (Vernon) Stoltzfus, Shirley (Mario) Bustos and Joetta (Gerald) Schlabach; nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Willard; a son and daughter-in-law, Eldon and Maggie (Prunty) Handrich; six siblings and their spouses, Reuel (Agnes) Lehman, Ruth (Herman) Buller, Genevieve (Ralph) Buckwalter, David (Doris) (Lola) Lehman, Ethel (Daniel) Slabaugh and Josephine (Emery) Swartzendruber. A service of remembrance was held at Crossing Community Church, Valparaiso. A memorial service will be held in Grand Marais in summer 2022, when grandchildren will be able to gather. Memorial contributions can be directed to Mennonite Central Committee.
Schmidt, Hilda Leona Neufeld
February 13, 1924 - August 16, 2021
Schmidt.- Hilda Leona, 97, of Manhattan, Kan., died Aug. 16, 2021, at Good Shepherd Homecare & Hospice in Manhattan. She was born Feb. 13, 1924, to Isaac and Emma (Block) Neufeld in Carnduff, Sask. The family moved to Kansas to be near relatives around Inman when she was 9. She was baptized May 28, 1939. She graduated from Buhler High School and earned her RN diploma from Bethel Deaconess Hospital in Newton. She married Carl G. Schmidt on Sept. 16, 1947. They farmed northwest of Beatrice, then moved to Beatrice in 1967. She was a nurse at Beatrice Community Hospital for many years and later at Martin Luther Home. She was a member of the Red Cross and the American Nurses Association, taught CPR for the American Heart Association and was a lifetime member of the Bethel College Nursing Alumni Association. She was always ready to acquire additional medical training to enhance her nursing career.
At Beatrice Mennonite Church she was involved with the women's service group, children's education, education committees, church council, ministerial searches and as a deaconess. In 1980, she and Carl began three years of volunteer service under Mennonite Central Committee. They worked for a hospital in Burkina Faso, where she taught nursing skills to local workers. After Carl's death, she renewed a friendship with Elmer Friesen. They married in 2001, and she moved to Portland, Ore. After Elmer's death, she moved to Manhattan.
Survivors include two daughters, Karen Schmidt of Manhattan and Ruth Schmidt Hewett of Bellingham, Wash.; a daughter-law, Sridevi Schmidt of San Jose, Calif.; a brother, Orville Neufeld of Wichita; a sister-in-law, Carolyn Drew Neufeld of Forest Grove, Ore.; and two grandsons. She was preceded in death by her husbands, Carl and Elmer; two sons, Melvin and James; three sisters, Edna, Verna and Eileen; and two brothers, Elmer and Wilbur. Memorial services were held at Beatrice Mennonite Church. Internment was at First Mennonite Cemetery, rural Beatrice. Memorials were established for Mennonite Central Committee and Beatrice Mennonite Church.
Schrag, Wilda Stauffer
March 4, 1922 - August 2, 2021
Schrag.- Wilda Stauffer, 99, of Toledo, Ohio, died Aug. 2, 2021, at Ebied Hospice Residence. She was a resident at Maple Crest Assisted Living in Bluffton prior to suffering a stroke. She was born March 4, 1922, to Henry and Sophie (Zimmerman) Stauffer in Milford, Neb. After graduating from Milford High School, she attended Hesston College in Kansas. She graduated from La Junta Mennonite School of Nursing in Colorado in 1945. She worked as a Registered Nurse for more than 40 years, beginning in obstetrics and then in geriatric care in both Illinois and Kansas. She was director of nursing for 14 years at Meadows Mennonite Retirement Community, rural Chenoa, Ill.
While studying at Hesston College, she met David Schrag. They were married Nov. 7, 1945, at her parents home in Milford. She was committed to a life of service throughout her career as a nurse and her lifetime membership in the Mennonite church. She and David served in volunteer activities throughout their marriage, including two years with Mennonite Central Committee in Paraguay.
Survivors include three daughters, Anita (George) Lehman of Bluffton, Christine (Dan) Diener of Goshen, Ind., and Jana (Rusty) Schopp of Bloomington, Ill.; two sons, Mark (Nancy) Schrag of Homer, Alaska, and Scott Schrag of Moundridge, Kan.; a sister-in-law, Maxine Schrag of Moundridge; 12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband in 2005, eight siblings and a grandson.
Transcribed by: John Ingold