Mennonite World Review - September 2016

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

Bishop, Suzanne Harnish ; . . Gingerich, Vesta Louise Troyer ; . . Harder, Ethel Kathryn Klassen ; . . Holgersen, Otto ; . . Hostetter, Grace Haldeman Brackbill ; . . Martin, Janet Ranck ; . . Rittenhouse, Alice Clemmer ; . . Snider, Marie Gingerich ; . . Sommers, Eloise Lambright ; . .

Mennonite World Review - September 12, 2016 - 94th Year, No. 19 - p. 15


Hostetter, Grace Haldeman Brackbill

Grace Haldeman Brackbill Hostetter, 97, of Harrisonburg, Va., died Aug. 22, 2016. She was born Nov. 7, 1918, to Ruth Haldeman and Milton G. Brackbill in Chester County, Pa.

She attended Eastern Mennonite School in Harrisonburg, where she met B. Charles Hostetter. They were married on May 3, 1939.
They moved to his hometown of Manheim, Pa., where, three months later, he was ordained by lot in Manheim Mennonite Church. In 1946 they moved to Harrisonburg for him to complete his college degree.

She was an engaged mother to her active children as her husband finished college, served as college pastor and eventually became permanent speaker on The Mennonite Hour radio program. She prepared many meals for guests, was an accomplished seamstress, took in boarders and started a club for mothers to hear lectures and have discussions related to child care and child health. She was an avid reader and helped her husband edit his weekly radio sermons. Her listening ear and open heart made her home a safe refuge for many.

In 1970, they took a Mennonite Board of Missions assignment in Lagos, Nigeria, helping with the development of a seminary for the Church of the Lord, Aladura, an African Independent Church. For six years, she taught classes in Aladura Theological Seminary, in a Pentecostal seminary and in the Church of the Lord Secondary School. In retirement, they moved to Hickory, N.C., to be near their oldest daughter, but they continued to be active, taking short-term pastoral assignments, visiting family and friends, and enjoying life.

Survivors include eight children, Miriam (Walter King) of Hickory, N.C., Pat (Earl Martin) of Harrisonburg, Doug (Bobbie Smolow) of Valley Cottage, N.Y., Ron (Joanne Landes) of Pennsburg, Pa., Darrel (Sherill King) of Lancaster, Pa., Chuck (Joyce Moyer) of Newton, N.C., Phil (Gwen Landis) of Lancaster, Pa., and Rick (Joy Bachman) of Elkhart, Ind.; two sisters, Miriam Nissley of Sarasota, Fla., and Peggy Shenk of Harrisonburg; 24 grandchildren and 33 greatgrandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband of almost 58 years, Charles; and two sisters, Emily Shenk and Betty Leasa.


Holgersen, Otto

Otto Holgersen died peacefully on Aug. 16, 2016, at University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz. A week earlier he had said, “I know I’ll go to heaven, as I believe and know Jesus as my Savior.”

He was originally from rural Arcata, Calif., on a dairy farm 80 miles south of the Oregon border and two miles east of the Pacific Ocean.

Survivors include his wife, Rosella (Rosie) Holgersen, formerly Rosella Schmidt of Grace Hill Mennonite Church and Newton, Kan.; a brother, Leslie Holgersen of Kent, Wash.; and seven nephews and nieces.

He was preceded in death by two brothers and a sister.


Snider, Marie Gingerich

Marie Gingerich Snider, 89, of North Newton, Kan., died Aug. 30, 2016. She was born Aug. 9, 1927, to Nicholas and Dorothy (Moser) Gingerich in New Bremen, N.Y.

A writer throughout her life, she inspired and empowered thousands of readers with her syndicated column, “This Side of 60,” for the past 26 years.

After graduating from Lowville Free Academy at the age of 14, she attended Eastern Mennonite and Goshen colleges. She taught for several years at Rockway Mennonite School in Kitchener, Ont. Returning to Goshen Seminary to earn a master’s degree in religious education, she met Howard Snider from Guernsey, Sask. They were married in New Bremen Mennonite Church in Lowville, N.Y., on Nov. 27, 1954.

Their first year of marriage, they worked at Mennonite Publishing House in Scottdale, Pa. They were part of the team writing the first joint General Conference-Mennonite Church Sunday school materials. In 1957, they moved to Edmonton, Alta., where Howard was pastor of the new Holyrood Mennonite Church. In the mid-1960s, Howard accepted a faculty position at Bethel College, and the family moved to North Newton.

She began working at Prairie View Mental Health Center in 1967.

Throughout the years her role expanded and, when she retired in 1991, she was director of communications.

In her ’50s she returned to school, earning a master’s degree in communications from Kansas State University. Her master’s thesis, “Sex Roles in the Comic Strips — a Historical Perspective, 1896-1979,” led to dozens of speaking engagements. In 1980, she was invited to appear as “the real Marie Snider” on the television show To Tell the Truth.

A member of Bethel College Mennonite Church, she served for several years on the communications advisory board for the General Conference Mennonite Church.

Survivors include a daughter, Vada Snider; and a son, Conrad (Diane Sorensen) Snider, all of North Newton; and a brother, Jim (Roberta) Gingerich of Moundridge.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Howard, on Aug. 2, 2015.

A celebration of life service will be held Sept. 15 at Bethel College Mennonite Church, North Newton.


Sommers, Eloise Lambright

Eloise Sommers, 84, died Aug. 18, 2016, in Denver, Colo. She was born Oct. 19, 1931, to Cleo and Orpha (Hostetler) Lambright near LaGrange, Ind.

She graduated from the La Junta School of Nursing in 1953, married Myron Sommers from near Orrville, Ohio, and settled in Denver that year.

She nursed in various capacities during her career and served two terms in Mennonite Central Committee with Myron in the 1980s in Bangladesh and Somalia. She was an active member of Glennon Heights and then First Mennonite churches in Denver.

She and Myron were avid travelers, throughout North America, Europe and around the world. They attended numerous Mennonite world conferences and enjoyed visiting friends and relatives.
She was known for her frank statements, sense of humor and big smile. Unfortunately, she had increasing dementia for her last five years, but her kind words and witty remarks continued to serve her well with staff and visitors.

An excerpt from the hymn “My Life Flows On” will be on her columbarium plaque: “I hear that music ringing. It finds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing?”

Survivors include a son, Craig Sommers; two sisters, Wanda Brotherton and Janet Kanagy; two brothers, Bob and Vern Lambright; two granddaughters and two greatgrandchildren.
She was preceded in death by two brothers, Jim and Dick Lambright.

A memorial service will be held at First Mennonite in Denver on Oct. 1. Memorial contributions may be made to Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp or MCC.

Mennonite World Review - September 26, 2016 - 94th Year, No. 20 - p. 15


Harder, Ethel Kathryn Klassen

Ethel Kathryn (Klassen) Harder, 92, of Reedley, Calif., died Aug. 23, 2016, at Sierra View Homes. She was born Aug. 1, 1924, to Henry and Katie Klassen in Hillsboro, Kan.

The family moved to Reedley when she was 13. There she met and married her love, Robert John Harder, with whom she shared 53 years. She was a conscientious teacher and peace activist.

Survivors include two daughters, Jan Harder Parker (Bruce Berwald) and Jean Harder Flores (Marvin Flores); two sons, James Robert Harder (Tim Cahill) and Joseph William Harder (Jaime Kurtz); a sister, Georgianna Hofstetter; four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert Harder; and two sisters, Hazel Frey and Edythe Eymann.

Services were held at First Mennonite Church in Reedley.


Gingerich, Vesta Louise Troyer

Vesta Louise Troyer Gingerich, 97, of Kalona, Iowa, died Sept. 13, 2016. She was born March 3, 1919, to Roy S. and Nora Mae Miller Troyer in McPherson County, Kan.

Her family moved to Hubbard, Ore., in 1921, where her father taught school. In 1928 they returned to Kansas and settled in Hesston. She attended Hesston Academy, graduating in 1937. She completed teacher training and then taught one year at District 20 rural school. She married Paul E. Gingerich on May 22, 1940.

In 1943, they moved to Iowa County to begin farming. For the next 31 years they made a home as a farm family. In addition to tending family, home and garden, she taught children's Sunday school and Bible school at West Union Mennonite Church. She loved music and enjoyed leading children's singing at church. Later she also attended First Mennonite Church in Iowa City.

In 1974 she and Paul moved from Iowa back to Hesston, Kan., to help her aging mother and her widowed older brother. They were greatly enriched by the college and Hesston Mennonite Church communities and enjoyed 31 years of semi-retirement including volunteer work, hobbies and travel. In 2005 they made a final move back to Iowa to Pleasantview Retirement Community in Kalona.

Survivors include three sons, Keith L. Gingerich (Mildred Wenger) of North English, Ken A. Gingerich (Noreen Preheim) of Iowa City and Roger P. Gingerich (Diane Bucher) of Aurora, Colo.; a son-in-law, Art Hughes of Parker, Colo.; five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 74 years, Paul, in 2014; a brother, Ordo Troyer; a daughter, Linda Hughes; an infant granddaughter, Natasha Hughes; and a great-granddaughter, Johanna Feil.

Memorial services were held at Yoder Powell Funeral Home in Kalona. Inurnment was at First Mennonite Church in Iowa City.


Bishop, Suzanne Harnish

Suzanne H. Bishop, 95, of Goshen, Ind., died July 16, 2016, at Greencroft Healthcare. She was born May 8, 1921, to Frank and Esther (Schertz) Harnish in Eureka, Ill.

She married C. Franklin Bishop of Doylestown, Pa., on April 25, 1943, in Eureka. He preceded her in death on Oct. 29, 2000.

She graduated from Eureka High School in 1939 and earned her bachelor's degree in art from Goshen College in 1985. She had a lifelong love of art and was a photographer from her youth. After her first year at Goshen College, she moved with her newlywed husband to Morgantown, W.Va., then to Arthurdale, W.Va., where she began her lifelong career as a potter.

They moved to Goshen when her husband became a professor at Goshen College in 1956. She worked as office manager in Dr. Willard Krabill's practice, as receptionist and secretary in the Goshen College relations office and later co-owned and operated Turkey Creek Pottery. She was an active member and elder of East Goshen Mennonite Church. Most Sundays, she would bring in a flower arrangement from her garden. She was a founding member of the Goshen Clay Artist Guild and the Goshen Photography Guild.

She served on boards of Oaklawn Psychiatric Center, where she also volunteered. She was active in the Goshen Questers, Goshen Women's Club, Goshen Historical Society, the American Association of University Women and the Phalo Book Club. She taught pottery classes in Haiti when she accompanied her husband on Go­shen College's Summer Service Terms. She visited centers of art, culture and natural beauty in Italy, France, New Zealand, Australia, Newfoundland and Alaska.

Survivors include four sons, David F. (Sandra) Bishop of Teaneck, N.J., John K. (Jeanie) Bishop of Kailua, Hawaii, Lawrence A. (Adrianna) Bishop of Nashville, Ind., and Bruce E. Bishop of Goshen; three siblings, Robert Harnish, Marjorie Guth and Patricia Yordy, all of Eureka, Ill.; nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

In addition to her husband, she was preceded in death by a brother, David.

Services were held at East Goshen Mennonite Church. Burial was in Violett Cemetery.


Rittenhouse, Alice Clemmer

Alice (Clemmer) Rittenhouse
, 87, of Harleysville, Pa., died Sept. 10, 2016, at Souderton Mennonite Homes. She was born to Allen and Alice (Moyer) Clemmer in Harleysville.

She was the loving wife of Norman D. Rittenhouse for 65 years.

In 1951, together, she and Norman received their High School Equivalence Degree from Souderton High School. Prior to her marriage, she was employed as a seamstress for Shoenenman's from 1947 to 1953. After her marriage to Norman, she assisted him on the farm throughout her life. They owned and operated three retail poultry, egg and farm produce markets, working at Upper Darby (1953 to 1963), Wayne's Farmers Market (1963 to 1978) and the Lan­caster County Farmers Market, Strafford, 1978 until retiring in 1995.

She served on the board of directors for Dock Woods Community for 24 years, volunteering her services as a consultant for the building and beautification of the retirement community.

She was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother. She enjoyed domestic and international travel, serving on mission trips, and hosted many children who attended Christopher Dock High School, international students and fresh air children from New York City.

She was a member of Plains Mennonite Church, where she served as an elementary Sunday school teacher and youth group adviser, sang in the choir and volunteered with the building and decorating committee.

Survivors include her husband, Norman; a son, Eric R. (Stacy) Rittenhouse of Center Valley; a daughter, Jennifer J. Rittenhouse of Harleysville; a son-in-law, George N. Seavy of Harleysville; a brother, Marvin Clemmer of Dock Woods community; and six grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by four brothers, Jacob, Joseph, William and Cyrus Clemmer; and two sisters, Mary Ellen Derstine and Betty Kupeerus.

Memorial services were held at Plains Mennonite Church in Hatfield. Memorial contributions may be made to the Eastern Mennonite University peace and justice program.


Martin, Janet Ranck

Janet Ranck Martin, 71, of Waterloo, Ont., died Sept. 7, 2016. She was born July 29, 1945, in Lancaster, Pa.

As a young girl in Pennsylvania her interest in missions and supportive missions was nurtured by her family. Her father gave a house to Eastern Mennonite Missions to house missionaries on furlough in the United States. These missionaries shared many stories of their work in East Africa, which impacted her as a child and teenager. She attended her first Mennonite World Conference in Kitchener as a teenager, which inspired her continuing dedication to the church as an adult. She attended six subsequent Assembly Gathered events beginning with Strasbourg, France, in 1984.

In 1968, she and her husband, Wilmer Martin, studied at Ontario Mennonite Bible School and Institute prior to his pastorates at Tavistock Mennonite Church for 10 years and at Erb Street Mennonite Church for 13 years. She served as church secretary in both congregations and found meaningful experiences in a small group of women at Erb Street. She loved her role as minister's wife at Tavistock and Erb Street and encouraged his ministry in TourMagination and Habitat for Humanity.

Their joining St. Agatha Mennonite Church in 2002 found her highlighting international church needs as they reported happenings in the broader church.

She traveled extensively with Wilmer, helping to co-lead tours for TourMagination and bus tours organized to encourage connections between Mennonite congregations in Canada and the United States. Her travels led her to more than 55 countries and with congregations of multiple faiths.

Survivors include her husband, Wilmer; daughter Janelle; son Alan; siblings John Ranck, James Ranck, Jean Cann, Joe Ranck and Joanne Dirks, a stepmother, Alta Ranck and two grandchildren.

Services were held at Erb Street Mennonite Church, Waterloo. Burial was in Erb Street Mennonite 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.
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