Mennonite World Review - April 2012

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

Bonham, Catherine Louise Keathley; . . Claassen, Elsie Elizabeth; . .  Goering, Martin H.; . . Harder, Bessie M. Zimmerly; . . Harms, Martha; . . Kroeker, Wesley; . . Rohrer, Ella Amstutz; . . Schrag, Esther Frieda Ratzlaff; . .

Mennonite World Review - April 2, 2012 - 90th Year, No. 11 - p. 19


Goering, Martin H.

Martin H. Goering, 92, of Moundridge, Kan., died March 19, 2012, at Pine Village. He was born Oct. 3, 1919, in McPherson County to John C. Jr. and Adina Wedel Goering.

He was a farmer. He married Evelyn A. Vogt on May 26, 1949, at Moundridge. She preceded him in death on May 8, 2008.

Survivors include a son, Mark H. Goering and his wife, Mary, of McPherson; a daughter, Patty Jean Clark of Phoenix, Ariz.; five grandsons and 17 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held at Eden Mennonite Church of rural Moundridge. Burial was in the church cemetery.


Schrag, Esther Frieda Ratzlaff

Esther Frieda Ratzlaff Schrag, 95, died March 20, 2012, at Kidron Bethel in North Newton, Kan. She was born March 23, 1916, to Pastor John J. Ratzlaff and Mary Decker Ratzlaff near Meno, Okla.

She was baptized and joined Bethel College Mennonite Church on May 22, 1932. She was a faithful member of the local Mennonite church her entire life, including First Mennonite in McPherson, Eden Mennonite in Moundridge and Bethel College Mennonite in North Newton.

She was a 1934 Newton High School graduate. She graduated from Bethel College in 1938 with a bachelor’s degree in home economics. On June 12, 1943, she married John O. Schrag, a fellow Bethel College classmate.

She was a home demonstrator of washing machines and other products for Bendix Corp. in Kansas City and with Hallmark Cards to help support her husband while he was in dental school. She taught home economics in Goessel and Hillsboro before her daughters were born and in McPherson once they were in school.

She was an active fundraiser for Bethel College, a mental health hospital in McPherson, Kauffman Museum and Kidron Bethel. She, John and their daughters spent two years in alternative service in Puerto Rico. After retirement, she and John served in voluntary service on three Native American reservations. She enjoyed traveling in the United States, Europe, Central and South America. She loved classical and sacred music.

Survivors include her husband, John Schrag; two daughters, Sandra Zerger and her husband, John, and Rebecca Fretz and her husband, Thomas; three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her siblings, Ruie Ratzlaff Becker, Walter Ratzlaff, Sadie Ratzlaff Harms, Paul Ratzlaff and Kathryn Ratzlaff Blair; and a grandchild, Amy Kristine Fretz.

Memorial services were held at Bethel College Mennonite Church.


Rohrer, Ella Amstutz

Ella Amstutz Rohrer, 99, of Orrville, Ohio, died March 8, 2012. She was born Oct. 9, 1912, to Daniel and Fannie (Zaugg) Amstutz in Dalton.
She married Milton D. Rohrer on Jan. 1, 1935. He preceded her in death in 2002.

She graduated from Dalton High School and worked as a secretary and treasurer for Rohrer Farms with her husband during their farming years. She was the last surviving member of the Amstutz Sisters Trio featured on The Calvary Hour international radio program for more than 25 years. The trio traveled widely with Pastor William G. Detweiler, founder, and later with his sons, pastors Bill and Bob Detweiler, in support of the ministry.

She was an active member of Smithville Mennonite Church, serving as a Sunday school teacher, Bible school superintendent and on numerous committees. She was active in Ohio Conference of the Mennonite Church and as a member of the conference Evangelism Commission. She was past president of Ohio WMSC. She was a former president of the Ohio Gid­eon’s Auxiliary and a charter member of the OrrVilla Board of Trustees, serving for 29 years. She enjoyed participating as a co-host on TV 3 Today in Cleveland with Del Donahue many times. She was an accomplished quilter and provided beautiful quilts for all her children and grandchildren and the Kidron MCC Relief Sale.

Survivors include three sons, M. David Rohrer and his wife, Velda, and Paul Rohrer and his wife, Alta, all of Orrville, and John Rohrer and his wife, Betty, of Plain City; a daughter, Julia Beyeler and her husband, Bob, of Orrville; a son-in-law, Harold Hochstetler of Orrville; a brother, Duane Amstutz of Kidron; a sister, Mary Jeanne Schafrath of Wooster; 16 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Milton; a daughter, Lois Hochstetler; a grandchild; two brothers and five sisters.

Funeral services were held at Smithville Mennonite Church.


Claassen, Elsie Elizabeth

Elsie Elizabeth Claassen, 103, of Whitewater, Kan., died March 19, 2012. She was born Sept. 29, 1908, to John and Elisabeth (Thierstein) Claassen. She was the elder born of twins.

She graduated from Whitewater High School in 1926. She accepted Christ as her Savior as a youth, was baptized and became a member of Emmaus Mennonite Church in 1926, where she remained a faithful member until her death.

She married Henry Claassen on March 10, 1932. They celebrated their 74th anniversary just prior to his death in 2006.

She started making wedding cakes in 1949 and finally ended her creations in 1984 with the cake for her granddaughter Denise. She served her church in various ways, including teaching Sunday school, playing organ, as Sunday school secretary, on the 75th anniversary, 90th anniversary and centennial planning committees, teaching Bible school and as church statistician. She served her community with the Home Demonstration Unit, helping area women learn homemaking skills. Her garden produced a bounty, and she canned many quarts of food. She raised chickens for laying eggs, which she sold.
In 2003 she moved to Wheat State Manor in Whitewater.

Survivors include a daughter, Wynona Entz; a son, Alvin Claassen and his wife, Elaine; 11 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by six sisters, eight brothers, a son-in-law and a grandson-in-law.

Mennonite World Review - April 16, 2012 - 90th Year, No. 12 - p. 19


Harder, Bessie M. Zimmerly

Bessie Harder, 86, of Mountain Lake, Minn., and formerly of Ohio, died of cancer on March 25, 2012, at the Sanford hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D. She was born July 10, 1925, to Edwin P. and Mary Bixler Zimmerly in Wayne County, Ohio.

She was baptized in 1940 in Sonnenberg Mennonite Church. She worked as a Mennonite Central Committee volunteer from 1947 to 1949 at Cleveland (Ohio) State Hospital, Skillman Epileptic Village in New Jersey and Brook Lane Farm in Maryland. While helping to establish Brook Lane Psychiatric Center, she met Albert Harder. They were married May 1, 1949.

For seven years they moved back and forth among Kidron, Ohio, and War­road and Mountain Lake. In 1956 they settled on a farm near Mountain Lake, and in 1994 moved into Mountain Lake. Albert died in 2003.

She joined First Mennonite Church of Mountain Lake in 1963, where she served as an educator, deacon and various roles with the mission society. She was on the program committee of the Northern District of the General Conference Mennonite Church and volunteered at Good Samaritan Village. She coordinated the MCC trainee program in Mountain Lake for many years. Gardening and spending time with her grandchildren were sources of joy. She married Jacob A. Dick on June 12, 2009.

Survivors include her husband, Jacob; five children, Rebecca Aum of Mendocino, Calif., Rachel (Nevin) Diener of Grottoes, Va., David (Pratoomporn) Harder of Mountain Lake, Maryann Harder of Mountain Lake and Wilma (Barb Swartley) Harder of Goshen, Ind.; three stepchildren, Mary (Martin) Harder of Minneapolis, Norman (Rosalie) Dick of Mountain Lake, and Marlin (Mary) Erin of Beaver Falls, Pa.; seven grandchildren; eight step-grandchildren; three great-grandsons; two sisters and four brothers, Lydia McClintock, Dan Zimmerly, Dave Zimmerly, Lillie Steffen, Jim Zimmerly and Ray Zimmerly.

She was preceded in death by her first husband, Albert; a brother and two sisters, Lester Zimmerly, Ida Welty and Ruth Zimmerly.

Burial was in Mountain Lake City Cemetery. Memorial services were held at First Mennonite Church in Mountain Lake.


Harms, Martha

Martha Harms, 102, of North Newton, Kan., died April 2, 2012, at Kidron Bethel Retirement Services. She was born to John H. and Margaret (Kliewer) Harms in Cordell, Okla., one of 10 children.

She was a 1930 graduate of Bethel College and obtained a degree in fine arts at the University of Oklahoma. She later received a master’s degree from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. She was a teacher in high school for 10 years and then taught for four years at Oklahoma Baptist University. She left teaching and became an optical dispenser for two optometrists in Wichita. Her brother, Edwin M. Harms, was one of the optometrists she worked with.

After retirement, she moved to Newton and joined Bethel College Mennonite Church. She was an avid student and audited a number of college classes. She learned Russian and became adept in creative writing. She loved to travel and made three trips to the Soviet Union and two trips to China during the Cold War. She visited 48 states, including Alaska. In 1990 she moved to Kidron Bethel, where she lived until her death.

Survivors include a brother, Harold Harms of Ruston, La., and varied nieces.

She was preceded in death by two infant siblings, three sisters and three brothers.

A graveside committal service was held at Greenwood Cemetery. A memorial service was held at Bethel College Mennonite Church.

Mennonite World Review - April 30, 2012 - 90th Year, No. 13 - p. 19


Bonham, Catherine Louise Keathley

Catherine Louise Keathley Bonham, 87, died Feb. 1, 2012, in Kalispell, Mont. She was born Nov. 27, 1924, to W.H. and Bertha Harwell Keathley in Humbolt, Tenn.

She grew up in Dyer, Tenn., where she made her commitment to Jesus Christ, lifelong friendships and cultivated her love of music. After attending Brenau College in Georgia and graduating from Peabody College in Nashville, Tenn., with a degree in music education, she met Bob Bonham, whom she married in August 1951.

She and Bob raised their family in Pennsylvania, and she set herself to her first passion and most important career; being a loving and nurturing wife and mother. During the 1970s and 1980s she was loved and appreciated as a church organist, pianist and piano teacher. In 1989 she and Bob moved to Kalispell to be among family, and at that time she began a more than 20-year career as a volunteer at Kalispell Regional Medical Center. She and Bob celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last August.

She was a member of Mountain View Mennonite Church in Kalispell and served as the pianist for many years. Her vivacity, love of life and positive spirit were infectious. She had a gift of hospitality and warmth, making friends wherever she went. She and Bob were foundational in forming the first Habitat for Humanity chapter in Montana in 1989.

Survivors include her husband, Robert Bonham; three children, Rusty Bonham and his wife, Mary Lou Schmidt Bonham, of Portland, Ore., Cathy Bonham Brenneman of Kalispell and Thomas Bonham and his wife, Cindy, of Peculiar, Mo.; nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by two brothers.

Services were held at Mountain View Mennonite Church, Kalispell. Cremation has taken place, and burial will be in the family cemetery in Warren, Ind.


Kroeker, Wesley

Wesley Kroeker, 88, died April 6, 2012, in Enid, Okla. He was born Oct. 4, 1923, to George and Eva Janzen Kroeker on a farm northeast of Enid.
He attended Enterprise Grade School and Kremlin High School. He graduated with business degrees from Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kan., and Enid Business College; the latter is where he met and courted Dolores Ratzlaff. In 1944, he was called to the armed forces in the Philippines as a stenographer in the office of Gen. MacArthur.

He married Dolores Ratzlaff on Aug. 4, 1946, to begin a life in farming and business. They joined Grace Mennonite Church at the time of their marriage, a commitment they held until their deaths. He was active on the boards of Grace Mennonite Church, Oklahoma Bible Academy and Bethel College in North Newton, Kan.

Survivors include his wife, Dorothy (Colegrove) Kroeker; four children, Charlotte Kroeker Mann of Dallas, Texas, Bryan Kroeker of Cleo Springs, Annette Lillie of Nash and Marcia Miller of Hesston, Kan.; two sisters, Alma Ediger and Helen Warkentin of Enid; and Dorothy’s children, Sharon McCune, Lynn, John and Jeff Colegrove.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Dolores.

Memorial services were held at Grace Mennonite Church, Enid. A private family burial was in Memorial Park Cemetery.

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.