Obituaries are emailed to MennObits before MWR is printed. Wording may vary in printed version.
Mennonite World Review - April 2015
Johns, Joseph Earl
Joseph Earl Johns, 76, of Weatherford, Okla., died March 13, 2015. He was born Sept. 27, 1938, to Alta Alfreda Johns at Hydro.
He grew up on a farm north of Hydro and graduated from Hydro High School in 1956. He attended Southwestern Oklahoma State College, graduating in 1962.
After graduation, he went to work in the accounting department at the US Gypsum Plant in Southard. His future wife, Glenna Otwell of Canton, also worked there.
They were married April 20, 1963, and moved to Oklahoma City, where they lived five years.
He began a 35-year career in property and casualty claims administration. He loved his work and enjoyed the challenges associated with it and the transfers to cities across the United States. In 1982, he and the family moved back to Oklahoma, settling in Weatherford. He continued working in the insurance business and began investing in rental properties, which became a full-time job.
He was a member of Pine Acres Church. He enjoyed numerous volunteer positions in the church and the community. Some of the organizations he served in included the U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, Habitat for Humanity, Leadership Weatherford, Weatherford Area Economic Development Foundation, Weatherford Industrial Trust and the Weatherford City Council. He loved and was devoted to his Lord, his family and his many friends.
Survivors include his wife, Glenna; a daughter, Traci Brownen and her husband, Richard; a son, Darren Johns; two brothers, Eddie Schantz of Bethany and Stanley Schantz and his wife, Orvilla, of Weatherford; two sisters, Mary Ralston and her husband, Steve, and Carol Wichert and her husband, Steve, all of Weatherford; his mother-in-law, Luevada Otwell of Weatherford; a brother-in-law, Kenneth Otwell of Kansas City, Mo.; and three grandchildren.
Funeral services were held at First Baptist Church, Weatherford.
Bartel, Marvin D. "Bart"
Marvin "Bart" D. Bartel, 88, of Lititz, Pa., and formerly of Gap, died March 14, 2015, at Landis Homes. He was born March 16, 1926, to David Andrew and Marie F. (Dyck) Bartel in Halstead, Kan.
He came east to work with Mennonite Central Committee and drove their truck for a year prior to going to work at Brook Lane Farm in Hagerstown, Md. He was the head farmer and responsible for maintenance. While at Brook Lane Farm he met Martha Stoltzfus, and they were married July 21, 1951.
When they moved to Pennsylvania he worked on a farm, then later at Farmec, where he worked in the experimental department. He worked 26 years as a milk hauler, retiring from John S. Ewell Inc. of East Earl in 1991. When he retired, he once again drove for MCC occasionally.
He was a member of Forest Hills Mennonite Church, where he formerly served as a trustee and Sunday school secretary.
He and Martha traveled in all 48 continental states and six Canadian provinces. He loved spending time with his family, and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren have many treasured memories of their grandfather. In retirement he read the Bible in its entirety in three versions.
Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Martha Bartel; five children, Cindy Sohar and her spouse, Jan, of Kidron, Ohio, Margaret Freed of Lebanon, Rose Weaver and her spouse, Michael, of Boynton Beach, Fla., Albert Bartel and his spouse, Marilyn, of Strasburg, and Jane Haught and her spouse, Scott, of Gap; three sisters, Mildred Mueller, Frances Bartel and Dorothy Dick and her spouse, Dale, all of Kansas; a sister-in-law, Clara Bartel of Oklahoma; 12 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by a son, Marvin W. Bartel; and five siblings, Albert, Roland, Olen, Ruth Marie Woodward and Edna Clark.
Marvin Ewert, 90, of North Newton, Kan., died March 25, 2015, at Kidron Bethel Village. He was born March 16, 1925, to Henry J. and Lena (Tiahrt) Ewert at Dolton, S.D.
Upon his profession of faith in Jesus Christ, he was baptized at Bethel Mennonite Church near Dolton in 1939. He graduated from Freeman Academy in 1943, Freeman Junior College in 1948, Bethel College in North Newton in 1950 and Mennonite Biblical Seminary in 1953. He took postgraduate courses for two years at the University of Chicago.
In 1953 he married Eleanor Thiessen, a nurse and also a 1950 graduate of Bethel College.
In 1955 he became the chaplain at Bethel Deaconess Hospital and Bethel Home for the Aged in Newton. On Jan. 1, 1957, he became the administrator of the institutions. He was active in state and national health-care organizations, including a term as president of the American Protestant Hospital Association. He resigned as administrator of the Home for the Aged in 1986, and he retired from an administrative position at the hospital in 1990 at age 65.
In April 1980 Eleanor died. Four years later he married Alma Hershberger Baker, who had four children from her previous marriage.
After moving from Chicago to Newton in 1955, he joined First Mennonite Church, where he served in various leadership positions. He taught Sunday school classes for nearly 50 years, discontinuing in 2010 due to impaired eyesight.
Survivors include his wife, Alma; two sons, Warren and his wife, Joleen, of Bartlesville, Okla., and Brian and his wife, Kathleen Rulka, of Marshfield, Wis.; a sister-in-law, Joann Ewert of Modesto, Calif.; two stepsons, Gregory Baker and his wife, Teresa, of Tulsa, Okla., and Anthony Baker and his wife, Ronda, of Newton; a stepdaughter, Connie Roadhouse and her husband, Brian, of Tulsa, Okla.; numerous grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Eleanor; a half-sister, Othielia Fransen; brothers Eldon Ewert and Milton Ewert; a daughter-in-law, Sharon Groff; and a stepdaughter, Jana Baker Cannon.
Memorial services were held at First Mennonite Church, Newton.
Roth, Darlene Roth
Darlene (Roth) Roth, 78, of Morton, Ill., died March 15, 2015, at UnityPoint Health-Methodist in Peoria. She was born Nov. 7, 1936, to Elmer N. and Esther (Martin) Roth in Beaver Crossing, Neb.
She married Herbert D. Roth on July 2, 1955, at First Mennonite Church of Morton.
She accepted Christ as a young girl and let him direct her paths from a farm in Nebraska to Morton, where she met a farm boy who would become her husband and partner for life. She worked at Caterpillar until they welcomed their first child. She changed careers when her heart called her home to raise her family and help with the family farm business.
She was a member at First Mennonite and served in many roles for more than 60 years. She taught children as a Sunday school teacher, an MYF sponsor and a vacation Bible school leader. She was on the founding board of the Et Cetera Shop in Eureka that serves the needy and raises funds for Mennonite Central Committee. She took her family on service vacations with Mennonite Disaster Service, including Corning, N.Y., after a flood and after a hurricane in Franklin, La. She served with Habitat for Humanity in Jamaica, MCC in Harlan, Ky., and joined a mission trip to Mexico.
Camp Menno Haven in Tiskilwa was close to her heart. She was involved in community Bible study. Mennonite Women was a gathering that she enjoyed monthly. She became a mentor for many women. She acted as a caregiver for those around her in need.
Survivors include her husband of 59 years, Herbert D. Roth; two sons, Douglas Roth and his wife, Donna Eigsti, and Jeff Roth and his wife, Donna Davis, and son-in-law Todd Leander, all of Morton; two brothers, Norman Roth of East Peoria and Gene Roth and his wife, Deb, of Morton; a sister-in-law, Ruthie Roth; seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her daughter, Jill Leander; two brothers-in-law, Elton and Donald Roth; and sister-in-law Maxine Roth.
Fretz, Anna Mae Charles
Anna Mae (Charles) Fretz, 97, of Vineland, Ont., died March 7, 2015, at the United Mennonite Home. She was born July 24, 1917, to Christian and Ellen (Hess) Charles in Lititz, Pa.
She graduated from Eastern Mennonite High School in Harrisonburg, Va., in 1935.
After nine years of working on the family farm, in a local food store and for Dr. Charles Weaver, she trained at Lancaster (Pa.) General Hospital, receiving her R.N. in 1947. After two years as a nurse at LGH, she enrolled at Goshen (Ind.) College and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1951. In 1952, upon earning a master's degree in nursing from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, she joined the faculty of Goshen College and taught in the nursing department until 1976. During her long teaching career she did additional graduate work at the universities of Chicago, Washington, and Florida at Gainesville.
In December 1975, she married Lyall David Fretz of Vineland.
She lived in Vineland, most recently at United Mennonite Home, from 1976 until her death. From 1976 through her retirement in 1982, she worked as a staff nurse at the Punta Gorda (Fla.) hospital during the winter months. For another 10 years, she helped with health care among winter residents at the Sunnybreeze Community in Arcadia, Fla.
A member of First Mennonite Church in Vineland, she was a gracious, positive, vibrant, insightful, courageous and compassionate person of deep Christian faith.
Survivors include two nephews, J Robert Charles of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Thomas Kopp Charles of State College, Pa.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Lyall, in 1998; and by her brothers, J. Wilbur Charles and Howard Hess Charles.
Memorial services were held at First Mennonite Church in Vineland, after a graveside service in the church cemetery.
Bontrager, Alvin L.
Alvin Bontrager, 89, of Goshen, Ind., died April 6, 2015. He was born Aug. 28, 1925, to Levi D. and Lizzie (Graber) Bontrager in Mylo, N.D.
On Dec. 23, 1950, he married Mary Louise Yoder in Topeka, Ind.
He farmed for many years in the Millersburg area. After moving to Topeka, he became a partner in and worked at Honeyville Metal. He served as a volunteer prison chaplain for a year in Atmore, Ala., and for five winters as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in Immokalee, Fla. He volunteered countless hours as a carpenter and woodworker, and after retirement to Goshen became known for the wooden model cars and tractors he designed and made for charity auctions. He was an avid reader and enjoyed music and fishing. Until his recent illness, he was an active volunteer at Menno-Hof, Ten Thousand Villages and at College Mennonite Church, of which he was a member.
Survivors include his wife, Mary; five daughters, Debra Kauffman and her husband, Robert, Rebecca Horst and her husband, Kenneth, Patricia Shenk and her husband, Dale, all of Goshen, Joyce Yoder and her husband, Jonathan, of Salem, Ore., and Virginia Miller and her husband, Ray, of Greencastle, Pa.; a son, Thomas, of Bremen; two sisters, Agnes Hochstetler and her husband, Laban, and Lucille Shrock and her husband, Paul; 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by three sisters, Gladys Gingerich, Mary Slabaugh and Viola Bontrager.
Memorial services were held at College Mennonite Church. A private family graveside service was held at Maple Grove Cemetery, Topeka.
Lapp, Catherine Alger
Catherine Alger Lapp, 85, of Morgantown, W.Va., died March 6, 2015. She was born June 23, 1929, to John H. Alger and Anna C. Hostetter Alger in Broadway, Va.
She graduated from Eastern Mennonite High School and spent time in voluntary service in Immokalee, Fla. She graduated from Eastern Mennonite College in 1956 with a degree in psychology.
She married N. LeRoy Lapp on Aug. 25, 1956.
She had a love for children and worked as a teacher and counselor at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School, Lansdale, Pa., while her husband was receiving his medical training. She was a faithful member of Suncrest United Methodist Church, Morgantown. She was a lifetime member of the Friends of West Virginia University Hospitals and volunteered for more than 20 years. She served on the board of Laurelville Mennonite Church Center for several years.
She enjoyed reading, gardening, bird watching, cooking and singing. She sang with groups for The Mennonite Hour, the West Virginia University student/community choir and her church choir.
Survivors include her husband of 58 years, Dr. N. LeRoy Lapp; her daughter, Anne K. Swisher and her husband, Kevin, of Morgantown; her son, Thomas L. Lapp and his wife, Christine, of Chadds Ford, Pa.; two sisters, Mildred A. Glick and her husband, Isaac, of Edmonton, Alta., and Nellie Alger of Broadway, Va.; a brother, Robert S. Alger and his wife, Ruth Stauffer Alger, of Harrisonburg, Va.; a sister-in-law, Ruth K. Alger; and two grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by three brothers, John P. Alger, Ralph J. Alger and Nelson E. Alger; and a sister-in-law, Retha Alger.
Services were held at Suncrest United Methodist Church. Burial was in Perkasie Mennonite Church cemetery, Perkasie, Pa.
Gerber, Ellis J.
Ellis J. Gerber, 91, of Mountain Lake, Minn., died March 31, 2015. He was born July 19, 1923, to Fairy Amstutz and Grover Gerber near Kidron, Ohio.
He was baptized Feb. 7, 1936, and received into membership at Kidron Tabernacle. He loved to read the Bible and learned to milk cows with the Bible perched on his knee. He read through the Bible every year for more than 80 years.
At Goshen (Ind.) College, he met the love of his life, Edna Buller. They were married June 21, 1949.
Sponsored by Kidron Mennonite Church, in 1953 they answered the call to serve in Congo with African Inter-Mennonite Mission. While serving as missionary teachers, they had three children. During their 20 years with AIMM they lived within political upheaval as the Congolese rebelled against the Belgian government. On furlough in 1967, he received his master's degree in French from Mankato State College.
In 1973, they returned to Mountain Lake, Minn., where he became the manager of Mennonite Mutual Insurance until he retired in 1988. On retiring he served in Mennonite Voluntary Service at Mennonite Housing in Wichita and also with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Haiti. He enjoyed gardening, bird watching and writing.
Survivors include his wife of more than 65 years, Edna Gerber; three children, Dan Gerber and his wife, Terry, of Minneapolis, Becky Ruddy and her husband, Rick, of Cannon Falls and Joanna Pinkerton and her husband, Randy, of Wichita, Kan.; a sister, Celia Lehman; brothers-in-law Clarence Buller and Henry Buller; sister-in-law Shirley Newman; and six grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by two sisters, Dorothy Schrock and Ruth Gerber; and brothers-in-law David Schrock, Harold and Peter Buller.
A memorial has been established with Africa Inter Mennonite Mission, PO Box 744, Goshen, IN 46527-0744.