Archive | Obituaries

Martha M. Toews, ’56

Posted on 27 July 2016 by editor

Martha M. Toews ’56, age 96, of Dallas, Oregon, died June 18, 2014. She was born on March 4, 1918, in Frazer, Montana, the daughter of John H. and Agnes Pankratz Janzen. On April 19, 1944, she married Theodore A. Toews in Dallas, before Ted was shipped overseas during World War II. They moved from Dallas to Nebraska where she attended the Grace Bible Institute for three years in Omaha. She was the director of Child Evangelism, serving eight counties in and around the Fremont, Nebraska, area. They returned to live in Dallas in 2003. She was a member of the Priscella Circle with the Grace Mennonite Church in Dallas and the VFW Auxiliary in Fremont, Nebraska. She is a current member of the Grace Community Church in Dallas. She sewed most of her own clothes and enjoyed embroidery, reading and teaching children for Child Evangelism. She is survived by a brother Edward Janzen of Woodburn and sisters Lena Schmidt of Dallas and Zelma Ridderbush of Salem, along with many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband Ted on June 14, 2005, siblings Rudolph “Rudy” Janzen, Anna Margaret Janzen, Henry Janzen, Marie Gossen and Ella McKee.

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Theodore A. Toews, ’56

Posted on 27 July 2016 by editor

Theodore A. Toews ’56 died June 14, 2005, in Dallas, Oregon, at the age of 88. Ted was born August 14, 1916, in Butterfield, Minnesota, to Abraham and Agnes (Fast) Toews. The family moved to Salt Creek, Oregon, in 1924. He married Martha Janzen on April 19, 1944, and five days later was shipped overseas to serve under General Patton. Upon his discharge from the Army he and Martha moved to Dallas, Oregon, where Ted drove a dump truck and hauled logs. They were called to serve the Lord and headed to Grace Bible Institute in Omaha, Nebraska, where they worked in child evangelism. He became the district co-director of Child Evangelism in Fremont. He was an active member of the Evangelical Free Church in Fremont. Ted also worked construction, worked at a wholesale warehouse, as a knife sharpener for Campbell Soup, and as a Watkins salesman. He and Martha returned to Dallas, Oregon, in 2003.

Ted was a member of the Teamster’s Union, VFW in Fremont, and Grace Mennonite Church in Dallas. He was a great reader, he enjoyed playing the guitar, and auto mechanics.

Ted was survived by his wife of 61 years, Martha Toews, his sister Freida Fast and brother Abe Toews all of Dallas, Oregon, his sister Agnes Warkentin of Eugene, Oregon, and many nieces and nephews.

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Donald Louis Gregory

Donald Louis Gregory

Posted on 20 July 2016 by editor

dlg072016Don Gregory, cross-cultural mission and Bible faculty member from 1975-1983, passed away June 21 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.  He was born in Peoria, Ill., on May 30, 1932, to the late Harold Louis Gregory and Jewel Johnson Gregory. He married Joan Gregory in 1955 and their life was blessed with three children and 12 grandchildren.

Don put his faith in Christ at age 17 after hearing the Gospel on the corner of Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles and then spent his life in service to Christ. He sought to win US Marines to Christ on the frontlines of Korea while serving in the Recon Co. of the 1st Marine Division. He then went on to missionary service among the remote Asmat people in West Papua, Indonesia.  Don proclaimed the Gospel to any person God placed in his path, and his roles included mission work with Pioneers and pastoring small Bible churches.

Don graduated from Columbia International University, received a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska. He is survived by his wife of 61 years and children Sharon Olsen, Stephen Gregory and Susan Stephens.

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Hilda Marie Schmidt, ’46

Hilda Marie Schmidt, ’46

Posted on 14 July 2016 by editor

hmschmidt46Hilda Marie Schmidt ’46 was born to Jacob and Maria (Rempel) Regier on February 17, 1924, the eldest of seven children. Ninety-two eventful years later, she passed into the presence of her wonderful Savior on July 3, 2016.

Hilda grew up on a farm near Mountain Lake, Minn., learning the meaning of hard work, close family life, and honest living from godly parents. After graduating from high school, she attended Mountain Lake Bible School, Grace Bible Institute in Omaha,  and Goshen College in Goshen, Ind. At Grace, she first met her future husband, Arthur Schmidt, from Meno, Okla. After graduation, she taught at Oklahoma Bible Academy, close to Arthur’s hometown. They were married in a double ceremony with Hilda’s sister, AnnaMae and her husband, Glen Epp, on June 16, 1950.

A year later, Hilda and Art were on a Norwegian banana boat bound for Ecuador, South America, as missionaries. They disembarked in the harbor at Guayaquil and braved the arduous trip over the Andes Mountains, finally arriving at the village of Shell Mera, known as the gateway to the jungle. There they studied the Spanish language and grew to love the Ecuadorian people. They became heavily involved in teaching at Berean Bible Institute, preparing the Ecuadorian young people for ministry in their local churches. Hilda was very busy teaching students to play the piano and accordion.

Hilda and Art’s focus also became the raising of a family of five children, who remember her well for strict and loving discipline, always ready with a song, never too busy to stop and listen to childhood woes and joys. She was a great letter writer, communicating with each child weekly as they attended boarding school, keeping them abreast of all the goings on at home. As each of them left home and eventually chose their life partners, she rejoiced. She also believed strongly in the power of prayer and would get up early each morning to pray for her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

Hilda helped her beloved husband through seminary, typing papers and dissertation. When they returned to the field again, and Arthur began a new method of preparing people for ministry called Theological Education by Extension, Hilda typed the textbooks he wrote.

After 32 years of ministry in Ecuador, they retired from the field, but not from ministry. Continuing serving God and loving people have always been their priority, whether on a college campus, with the Mexicans across the border in Juarez, in a Spanish-speaking church or at Golden Oaks Retirement Village in Enid, Okla. Arthur went to be with the Lord in January 2011, and Hilda was moved to Sandpoint, Idaho, to be closer to family. She spent her last years happily in the memory care wing of Luther Park. Here she continued to touch people’s lives through her music, cheerful spirit, and genuine love.

Hilda was preceded in death by her husband, Arthur; parents Jacob and Maria Regier; an infant sister Edna and her brother Melvin. She is survived by her children: son Mervin (Cindy) Schmidt of Ramona, Okla., daughter Betsy (Norman) Olson of Glen Ellyn, Ill., son Fredrick (Desiree) Schmidt of Nampa, Idaho, son Jonathan (Karen) Schmidt of Spokane, Wash., son Ronald (Anne) Schmidt of Ponderay, Idaho; sisters AnnaMae (Glen deceased) Epp, Myrna (Verne) Zielke, Elisabeth (Walt) Heinrichs, brother Norman (Nancy) Regier, sister-in-law Lydia Regier, 16 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.

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Cecil Yoder, ’70

Cecil Yoder, ’70

Posted on 14 July 2016 by editor

image001Cecil Yoder ’70, age 66, of Le Mars, Iowa, passed away Sunday, November 1, 2015, at Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City.

Cecil Deon Yoder was born July 29, 1949, in Williamsburg, Iowa, to Maynard and Marvel (Kinsinger) Yoder. When he was 4 years old, the family moved to Warsaw, Missouri. Cecil graduated from Warsaw High School in 1967 and continued his education at Grace College of the Bible in Omaha, Nebraska. While attending college, Cecil met Nancy Tindall and the couple were united in marriage on May 12, 1972, in Sioux City, Iowa. Cecil and Nancy returned to Le Mars and he began farming with his in-laws, Stanley and Lois Tindall in Washington Township.

Cecil loved many things; farming, reading, history, telling stories, and his church family. But two things would be at the top of his list of the things he loved. One would be his family; he thoroughly enjoyed precious times with them. The other would be his great love for God and His Word, the Bible. He loved to study and teach God’s word. His love for the Bible often led him to give financially so that people who do not have a Bible could get them, and that is how he wished memorials to be used.

Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Nancy Yoder of Le Mars; 4 children: a son Jeremy Yoder and his wife Sarah of Sioux Falls, S.D., and their children Raquel, David, and Luke; a daughter Christie Dougherty and her husband Andy of Le Mars and their children Elijah, Jude, and Titus; a daughter Cherie Martin and her husband Jon of Jacksonville, N.C.; and a daughter Kala Long and her husband Jeremy of North Platte, Neb. Survivors also include a sister Marcella (Kent) Keltner of Galena, Mo.; a brother Phillip (Sheila) Yoder of Warsaw, Mo.; his mother-in-law, Lois Tindall of Le Mars; in-laws: Barb and Bill Widman of Salix, Iowa, and Bev and Paul Lindsay of Wolverhampton, England; and grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Maynard and Marvel (Kinsinger) Yoder; and his father-in-law, Stanley Tindall. 

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Irwin J. Eleson, ’56

Posted on 11 July 2016 by editor

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Irwin James Eleson ’56 died on February 27 in Helena, Montana. He was 93 years old.

He was born on December 5, 1921, to Loyd and Maude Violet Eleson in Elk Point, South Dakota. He was the youngest of four brothers (Clarence, Ernest and Floyd) and grew up on the family ranch near Crawford, Nebraska.

In 1944, Irwin met Marie Soester and they married in 1946. Irwin and Marie had a marriage that was a testament to love. They were devoted to each other and to the Christian faith that became a significant part of their lives beginning in 1948 when they got involved with Bethel Bible Church. So important was their belief in God and practice of Christianity that in 1952, they decided to leave the family ranch so that Irwin could attend seminary at the Grace Bible Institute. He graduated in 1956 and was ordained as a minister the same year. His first and only church was the Oaks Community Church, a non-denominational church located between Henderson and Emerson, Iowa, where he and his family lived for 4 years. After that, he worked briefly as a field representative at the Ozark Bible Institute and was a traveling minister for a short time, preaching in churches around the country, with his family providing the musical program for each service. In 1964, Irwin took a job with what was then the Yellowstone Boys Ranch (Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch) in Billings, Montana, where he worked until his first “retirement” in 1993 and then until his final retirement in 2011. For most of his years at YBGR, he was a field representative and worked tirelessly with ranchers in the Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota region obtaining donations of calves, horses, land, mineral rights and cash contributions that helped YBGR expand and improve its services to children. He loved his job and traveled thousands of miles each year to work with hundreds of ranching families in the region. It was his knowledge of their work that made ranchers respect him, but it was his passion for the mission of the YGBR that made him so successful at his job. He believed that children were better off after being cared for by the YGBR.

Irwin and Marie had five children: Linda Marie (Fjelstad); Cindy Anne (Christensen); William James; Thomas Lee; and Charity Joy. They had nine grand-children: Kim, Michelle, Lisa, Melinda, Shelly, Scott, Katyana, Celia and Tevis. They had thirteen great grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his mother, father, three brothers, wife, Marie, and eldest daughter, Linda.

We will remember this man as a force of nature who had a thousand stories to tell. He was a committed and devoted husband and a man who was honest and generous with those he met. He taught us the value of work and honesty and a love of the earth. He loved his life and lived it with strength, joy and integrity.

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Dorothy Ann Friesen, ’54

Posted on 29 June 2016 by editor

image001Dorothy Ann Friesen, 80, passed away on June 26, 2016, in Moundridge, Kansas. She was born in Newton on March 23, 1936, to Paul E. and Edna O. Tangeman Vogt. She was an active member of the Garden Community Church in rural Moundridge. On May 4, 1956, she married Norman Friesen. They farmed in rural Walton for 45 years until retiring in Hesston.

She is survived by her husband, Norman, of Hesston; sons Larry (Jeanette) Friesen and Dale (Shelly) Friesen, all of Walton; daughter Yvonne (Gerhard) Fast of Hesston; one brother, Arnold (Shirley) Vogt of Hesston; one sister, Helen (Alvin) Bergen of Augusta; five grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents and two sisters, Verna Broeckel and Betty Oller.

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Clifford E. Koehn, ’50

Posted on 03 June 2016 by editor

imageRev. Clifford Koehn was born to Frank and Dena Koehn on April 8, 1927. He was the oldest of his siblings Robert, Alfred, Art, and Larry. He was raised on a farm near Carnegie, Oklahoma, and graduated from Alden High School. He then went to Grace Bible Institute and received his training for the pastorate. He met Anna Ruth there and they were married June 22, 1950. They entered the ministry in 1955 taking their first church near Langdon, North Dakota. Because of their continuing interest in missions, they moved to Seiling, Oklahoma, in 1960 as home missionaries to the Cheyenne. In 1975, they were called to Geary, Oklahoma, to pastor the First Mennonite Church. They remained at that pastorate until the church closed in the mid-nineties. He continued to preach whenever the opportunity came and taught Sunday school. In addition to his pastorates, Clifford found time to be a Scout Master in Seiling, and he had a photography business and a painting business in Seiling and Geary.  Clifford enjoyed serving his community and his church and talking with his friends at the ASAP store and the Rusty Bucket. Clifford enjoyed volunteering after retiring. Clifford worked with meat canning for MCC and volunteered at his church. He was a past treasurer for the Senior Center and a NODA representative. He was an active member for the Ministerial Alliance for the city of Geary.

He is survived by daughter Virginia Brendemuehl and husband Collin of Westerville, Ohio; son Ronald Koehn and wife Marie of Corn, Oklahoma; and daughter Wanda Koehn of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, four grandchildren, Michael Brendemuehl, Steven Brendemuehl, Brian Koehn and Renae Koehn, two brothers, Alfred Koehn and wife Alice of Muskogee, Oklahoma, and Art Koehn and wife Jean of Topeka, Kansas, as well as many other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Dena Koehn, his wife, Anna Ruth Koehn, and 2 brothers, Robert and Larry Koehn.

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Wilma Marie Friesen, ’47

Posted on 03 June 2016 by editor

1463850642Wilma Marie Friesen was born May 8, 1921, in Whitewater, Kansas, to Willie and Catherine (Wiebe) Harder. She died Friday, May 20, 2016, in Talihina, Oklahoma, at age 95. Wilma was reared and educated in Whitewater and graduated with the Whitewater High School Class of 1940. After high school she attended Grace Bible Institute in Omaha, Nebraska, and graduated in 1947. Wilma was strong in her faith and was baptized at Emmaus Mennonite Church in Whitewater. She married Peter Z. Friesen on August 9, 1955, in Aberdeen, Idaho. Wilma spent most of her working life as an Ordained Missionary for Avant Ministries. She had a variety of pastimes such as reading, cooking, sewing, and telling stories to her children and grandchildren. Above all, she was a prayer warrior and loved sharing the Lord with people any opportunity she had. Loving family members include: Husband Peter Z. Friesen of Whitewater; Daughters Winnona Brush and husband Ron of Owasso, and Lynette Hinton and husband Geoffrey of Talihina; 6 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and many adopted spiritual grandchildren. Wilma was preceded in death by her cousin and Peter’s first wife, Elsie Regier, brother, Eldon Harder, brother, Willfred Harder, sister, Catherine Crocker, Sister, Mildred Dahlenburg, and son, Virgil Friesen.

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Elsie Epp, ’51

Posted on 27 April 2016 by editor

Elsie Ruth Wiebe Epp ’51 died at age 87 on April 23, 2016, at the Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice of Via Christi Regional Medical Center-St. Francis Campus in Wichita.

She was born on February 1, 1929, in Newton, Ks., the daughter of Henry B. and Katie Enz Wiebe. The family moved to Idaho when she was a year and half old. Elsie graduated from high school in Aberdeen, Idaho, and Grace Bible Institute in Omaha, Neb. She also attended Bethel College in North Newton, Ks., Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho, and later taught school four years.

She married Willard A. Epp on August 31, 1958, in Aberdeen, Idaho. To this union were born three sons and three daughters. They farmed together for 28 years in Marion, S. D., until moving to Kansas in 1986. Elsie and Willard moved to Kidon Bethel in North Newton five years ago.

In 1980, Elsie trained to be a Licensed Practical Nurse at Freeman Jr. College, Freeman, S.D. She worked as an L.P.N. for three years in Freeman, 10 months in Whitewater, Ks., eight and half years at the Kansas Christian Home in Newton. She retired from nursing in 1995.

She was baptized upon her confession of faith by the Rev. Phillip A. Wede, on September 10, 1944, in Aberdeen, Idaho, and presently was a member of First Mennonite Church in Newton. Elsie had also been involved in the Jail Ministry through the church as well as Ministers of Visitation.

Survivors include her husband Willard; sons Donald Epp of Halstead, Ks., Stan Epp and wife Esther of Newton, Bryan Epp and wife Janell of Hesson, Ks.; daughters Roselyn Parks of Nixa, Mo., Naomi Engle and husband Jess of Wauseon, Ohio, Rachel Winters and husband David of Tulsa, Okla.; 20 grandchildren; and three great grandchildren. Elsie is preceded in death by her parents; and eight siblings, Walter Wiebe, Karl Wiebe, Henry Wiebe, twins Jacob and Katie Wiebe who died in infancy, Willard Wiebe, Esther Becker, and Florence Nickel.

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