Archive | Obituaries


Robert Lee Baerg ’67-70

Posted on 03 February 2016 by editor

5718705_220wRobert Lee Baerg ’67-70 died at the age of 66 on Monday, January 11, 2016, at his home near Williamsburg, Iowa.

He was born the son of Abram and Susan (Harder) Baerg on October 22, 1949, in Mountain Lake, Minnesota. He was raised on the family farm near Delft, Minnesota, and graduated from Windom High School with the class of 1967. He attended Grace College of the Bible (now Grace University) in Omaha, Nebraska. He was united in marriage to Coreen Risdon on February 5, 1972, at the Victor Baptist Church in Victor, Iowa. There were blessed with five children, Tom, Cam, Andy, Danielle and Josh. The couple lived in rural Delft for a short while following their marriage. In 1975, they moved to Iowa and raised their family and farmed west of Williamsburg. In 1980 the family moved to Glendale, Arizona, and returned to rural Williamsburg in 1981. He was a member of the Victor Baptist Church.

Bob had a passion for farming and raising dairy cattle, and was proud of his John Deere tractors. He had a strong love for his family and was famous for his unexpected visits. His enjoyments were telling stories, spending time with his grandchildren, attending Farm Progress shows and the Threshers Reunion, and traveling back to see family in Minnesota.

Bob is survived by his children, Cam (Bryce) Post of Chicago, Illinois, Andy (Laura) Baerg of Farmington, Minnesota, Danielle Baerg of Los Angeles, California, Tom (Jill) Baerg of Williamsburg, and Josh (Caitlin) Baerg of Charleston, South Carolina; 12 grandchildren, Hayden, Lucy, Brady, Parker, Gerrit, Gavin, Jason, Nigel, Halibel, Aizen, Clarence, Milton; and two brothers, Bill Baerg and Allen (Tina) Baerg, both of Delft, Minnesota. He was preceded in death by his parents. 

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Orville K. Rutschman, ’48

Posted on 29 January 2016 by editor

Orville K. Rutschman ’48 passed away January 26, 2016, at Showalter Villa in Hesston, Kansas. He was born May 12, 1929, in Newton, to Harry and Emma Neufeld Rutschman. He grew up on a small farm near Hesston. He attend Hesston grade school, Academy (high school), and experienced one year at Hesston College. Further education of one year was at Grace Bible Institute of Omaha, Nebraska.

When a teenager, he accepted Christ as his Savior and remained faithful to the Christian faith as he attended Garden Community Church, rural Moundridge.

He is survived by: his wife, Naomi (Unruh) Rutschman of Hesston; sibling Marge Rutschman, of Omaha; nephews Kent (Sherry) Jantz and Wayne Rutschman, of Moundridge; a niece, Balancy (Steve) Harlow; and great-nieces and nephews.

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Anna B. Classen, ’52, Alumna of the Year, Annuitant

Posted on 20 January 2016 by editor

Anna B. (Ann) Classen ’52 was born on June 12, 1928, to Abe L. and Agnes (Bartel) Classen in rural Meade, Kansas. She was the 2nd oldest of 9 children. She passed into the arms of her loving Heavenly Father on January 17, 2016, at Lone Tree Retirement Center in Meade at the age of 87 years.

She attended McNulty School in Meade County for her elementary education. The family moved to DeRidder, La, in April of 1940 for a year and a half, returning back to Meade in September of 1941. Ann attended high school at Meade Bible Academy and graduated in 1948. This was the first graduating class of MBA. Ann attended Grace University in Omaha, Neb, and graduated in 1952 with a degree in Christian Education.

Ann accepted the Lord as her personal Savior at age 14. She was later baptized upon the confession of her faith by Rev. Orlando Wiebe on August 6, 1944, and joined the EMB church at Meade. Ann had a heart for missions. Ann served in Oklahoma for several summers during her high school years teaching DVBS. She also participated in children’s ministry in Poplar, Montana, and Georgia. Her interest for missions was kindled in the summer of 1948. She joined the “Go Ye Mission” in Oklahoma for a four-week summer ministry with children. She had the privilege of leading her first soul to the Lord during this period of time and her thought was, “There is no greater joy and more exciting work than this.” Her call for foreign missions came while she was attending college at Grace University.

She arrived in Japan as a missionary with SEND International on October 3, 1953. Her first four years were spent in language study and distributing literature and “church planting.” She held English classes and also was very active in participating in the children’s ministries of the churches. She served over 42 years in Japan and was instrumental in starting numerous churches during this period of time. The fruit of her ministry remains today.

Ann made a significant contribution to the spread of the gospel and had many years of faithful service to her Lord and Savior whom she loved and diligently served.

Ann left Japan on May 28, 1996, and officially retired on November 30, 1996. She made her home in Meade. She continued to be active in her local church during her retirement until her health began to decline. Her ministry consisted of children’s church, childcare for the ladies Bible study, DVBS and camps. She enjoyed visiting the lonely, hurting people and senior citizens and providing transportation as needed. 

She was preceded in death by her parents, sisters, Lisbeth (stillborn), Martha (Henry) Baerg, and Esther (Ed) Ratzlaff. Ann is survived by 3 sisters, Alma (Roy) Regier of Meade, Arlene (D Junior) Stoesz of Mountain Lake, Minn., and Leona (Harold) Buller of Hillsdale, Okla.; 2 brothers, John (Rose) Classen of Topeka, Kansas, and Menno (Susanna) Classen of Aurora, Neb., and many nieces, nephews, and other relatives and friends.

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Betty (Harder) Loewen, ’56

Betty (Harder) Loewen, ’56

Posted on 12 January 2016 by editor

OI1312949726_LoewenBettyBetty (Harder) Loewen ’56 was born in a farm house in rural Meade County, Kansas, March 9, 1935, to John H. and Elizabeth Harder. Betty received Jesus Christ as her Savior as a young girl. Betty attended her church, grade school and graduated from a parochial high school, as Salutatorian, all within a few miles from her family home. She graduated from Grace University with a degree in Biblical Studies.

She married Merle Loewen in her EMB home Church in rural Meade County, Kansas, in 1956. They moved to Topeka where they both were employed at Menninger Foundation. Michelle Renae was born May 24, 1958, while Steven James joined the family on October 15, 1960.

After Merle graduated from Washburn university in Topeka, they moved to Gardner in Johnson Co. where he began his educational career. Betty was employed for many years as a Medial Receptionist, retiring in 2000 from Central Kansas Medical Center in Great Bend to spend more time with grandchildren.

Betty enjoyed Scrapbooking with ladies who joined her at First Baptist Church. Betty also made quilts for all of her married granddaughters, along with several baby quilts for great grandchildren. She also hosted a Moms in Prayer Group for a number of FBC woman.

She taught third  grade AWANA girls for 24 years at First Baptist Church. The girls were a joy for her as she also baked Christmas cookies with them in our home annually.

She is survived by her husband, Merle, of almost 60 years, Michelle and Greg Bennett of Tulsa, Okla., Steve and Lisa Loewen or Emporia, Kansas, plus 14 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.

Betty departed her earthly life after a six-month battle with cancer on December 21, 2015, peacefully to join Jesus as her Savior.

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John Ratzlaff, ’70

John Ratzlaff, ’70

Posted on 12 January 2016 by editor

SSJ031035-1_20160111November 18, 1947 – January 7, 2016

John D. Ratzlaff ’70 ,  of West Salem, Oregon, passed away on Thursday, January 7. He was born on November 18, 1947 in Omaha, Nebraska, the son of Alvin and Elvera Ratzlaff. John grew up on the family farm in Orienta, Oklahoma. He attended Orienta Elementary School and later graduated from Oklahoma Bible Academy. He graduated with his BA from Grace Bible Institute, where he met his sweetheart Dee. John and Dee married on September 12, 1970, in Mountain Lake, Minnesota. In faith, they moved to Oregon in 1971 where John had been hired as the first Youth Pastor at the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Church in Dallas. In 1974, they moved to West Salem and John started his career with State Farm Insurance. John was past president of West Salem Rotary and the West Salem Business Association. He was also past board chair at Salem Academy and a past board member of the Salem Free Clinics. John was an active member of Salem Alliance Church.

John’s faith in Jesus Christ was the most important thing to him, and he reflected that by the way he loved people. He would invite people into his office and talk about hot rods, family, and occasionally insurance. John enjoyed boating on Detroit Lake and teaching people how to water ski. Classic car shows gave him the opportunity to spend time with his high school buddies, and again, visit with people.

John was very proud of his sons and loved his grandchildren. He made it a priority to be present at their sporting events and programs. When people were in his presence, John always made them feel important.

He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Dee; sons Mitch (Kelleigh) Ratzlaff and Travis (Brandee) Ratzlaff, along with his grandchildren Connor, Grant, Logan, Cole & Hailey. He leaves behind his brother, Stanley Ratzlaff and sister, Ruth Buller.

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Myrtle Loy Busenitz, ’56

Myrtle Loy Busenitz, ’56

Posted on 17 December 2015 by editor

7cf468cb-133a-4ddc-ab16-61c95625c285Myrtle Loy Busenitz ’56, age 77, passed away December 16, 2015, at Kidron Bethel of North Newton, surrounded by the love of her family.

She was born October 31, 1938, at Newton, Kansas, the daughter of Milburn and Erma (Klaassen) Harder. On September 16, 1960, she was united in marriage to Eugene M. Busenitz. She was a Registered Nurse, working for 23 years at Axtell Clinic in Newton.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Eugene; an infant son, Stanley; and her parents.

She is lovingly survived by her daughters, Terry Rickel of Weatherford, Oklahoma; Kathy Penner and husband, Leon of Wichita; and Yvonne Dakwar and husband, Elias of Crowley, Texas; a son, Brent Busenitz of Newton; her siblings: Elwin Harder of Newton; Sharon Harder of Edinburg, Texas; and Rosie Rothhaar of Burlington, Kentucky; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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Peter W. Voran, ’46

Posted on 23 November 2015 by editor

(August 19, 1923 – November 14, 2015)

Peter Willard Voran, third child of Carl and Martha Voran, was born on August 19, 1923, on a farm near Castleton, Kansas. He attended Zion Grade School and graduated from Castleton High School in 1941. Upon his confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ he was baptized in the Mennonite Church in Arlington. In 1946 he attended Grace Bible University in Omaha, Nebraska. for 2 years. Following this, he was pastor of the Hopefield Mennonite Church, Moundridge, Kansas, while attending Bethel College in North Newton.

He married Lois Geiger ’49 on August 5, 1949. In 1951, following graduation from Bethel, they went to Japan as missionaries with the Commission on Overseas Missions of the General Conference Mennonite Church. They served 30 years with that work. They served at the First Mennonite Church in Pretty Prairie for 6 years and also had several interim pastorates since their retirement. They have resided at Kidron Bethel Village since July 1991.

Peter passed into the presence of the Lord, November 14, 2015.

Surviving are children Dave (Linda), Leawood, Kans., Debra Graber (Allen), Newton, Kans., Dan (Darryl), Bow, Washington, grandchildren Brandon Voran (Sara), Kansas City Mo., Joshua Graber (Staci), Fayetteville, Ark., Jill Utecht (Adam), Hillsboro, Kans., Mindy Graber (Bryan Ulrey), Denver, Colo., Nichole Voran (Keith Prinkey), Connellsville, Penn., Chelsea Funk, Pittsburgh, Penn., eight great-grandchildren, Hannah, Sophia and Claire Utecht, Emeri and Elijah Graber, Layla Voran, AJ and Natty Prinkey. Also surviving are sister and brother-in-law, Bill and Betty Engle, Pineville, Mo., two brothers-in-law, Wallace Geiger (Wanda) and Mahlon Geiger (Anne) of Pandora, Ohio, and a number of nieces and nephews.

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Fayrene(Ensz) McNabb, ’65

Fayrene(Ensz) McNabb, ’65

Posted on 23 November 2015 by editor

5646502d18148Fayrene(Ensz) McNabb ’65 passed away November 12, 2015, at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, at the age of 68.  She was born October 8, 1947, at Harrison, Arkansas, the daughter of Rev. Arnold and Elma (Schierling) Ensz.  She held a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and devoted her life to teaching music.  Prior to her retirement she taught in the Maize, Maize South, Derby and Collegiate school districts.  She was preceded in death by her parents and a brother Jonathan Ensz.  She is lovingly survived by her husband, Richard McNabb of Wichita; a son, Richard “Richie” McNabb of Wichita; siblings:  Lorin Ensz (Sandee) of Carthage, Mo.; Joel Ensz (Marcia) of Valley Center; and Mary Wiebe (Brad) of Whitewater; and many nieces, nephews and their families.

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Gordon Hofer, ’53

Posted on 11 November 2015 by editor

gordon-hoferGordon Hofer, 80, of Bridgewater, S.D., passed away peacefully into the presence of the Lord on November 5, 2015, with family members at his side.

Gordon was born on June 13, 1935, to Peter J.S. and Adina D. Hofer. He grew up on a farm between

Bridgewater and Freeman, South Dakota.  Gordon said that one of his childhood memories was attending Hutterthal Mennonite Church and Sunday School.  In his teenage years, through revival meetings in his church with Rev. Albert Ewert, Gordon made a decision to accept Jesus as his personal savior.  He was baptized and became a member of Hutterthal Mennonite Church. After grade school, he attended Freeman Academy. 

After graduating from Freeman Academy, he continued school at Grace College of the Bible in Omaha, Nebraska.  There, he met many friends and a beautiful blonde who later became his wife, Alvina Siebert.  Gordon and Alvina served the Lord during their more than 58 years together.  They are survived by their children Donita (and her husband, Paul Davis), Stewart (and his fiancée, Chantel Cook) and Vince. He is also survived by six grandchildren who keep us busy: Tiffany, Toby, Briana and Elizabeth Davis and Austin and Alex Hofer.

Gordon lived a Christ-centered life.  May his example, in life and in memories, live in our hearts forever.

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Maria Thieszen, ’47 and Alumna of the Year ’02

Posted on 20 October 2015 by editor

thieszenmaria1016Maria Thieszen, age 99 of Henderson, Neb., died Friday, October 16, 2015. She was born to Abraham and Agathea (Peters) on May 22, 1916, on a farm southwest of Henderson. She attended grade school at District 31. Maria was baptized by Rev. H. Epp and became a member of Bethesda Mennonite Church. Maria graduated from Grace Bible School in 1947. After graduation Maria and Edna Schultz, who was also from the Grace University class of 1947, served as missionaries with “Go Ye Mission” in Oklahoma for 15 years.

After Maria’s mother died, Maria and Edna moved back to Henderson and became involved with children’s ministry, teaching after school Bible classes, teaching vacation Bible schools, and helping at Bible Camps. For 18 years they were managers of the Story Time Bus, a 42-passenger bus, which was their mobile home as they traveled to different communities ministering to children.

In 1979 they moved to the Good Samaritan Village in Hastings. Maria worked in the housekeeping department in the nursing home and later in the dietary department. After retirement, Maria spent many years doing volunteer work at the village. In 2001, she was named Volunteer of the Year by the Nebraska Health Care Association and also the Good Samaritan Volunteer of the Year. In 2002, she was named Grace University’s Alumna of the Year for her service to the Lord.

It was with great joy and satisfaction for her to teach the word of God to 30-40 children a week in the Children’s Day Care at The Village. In September of 2012, Maria moved to the Henderson Health Care. There she appreciated the care of the staff at the home.

Survivors include Edna Schultz and a host of nieces and nephews. Preceding her in death were her parents, brothers Abe P. and Daniel Thieszen, and sister Eva Friesen, sisters-in-law Maragret Thieszen and Clara Thieszen, brother-in- law Albert Friesen, and nephew Wilbur Thieszen.

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Tidings 2015