Archive | Obituaries

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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Doris Lutke Epp fs.’53

Posted on 01 October 2015 by editor

Doris Grace Lutke Epp, (fs.1953) Cumming, Georgia, was born on February 8, 1935 in Hepburn, Saskatchewan, Canada, and passed into the loving arms of Jesus at age 80, on July 15, 2015. Her parents came to the US when she was age 12, and she later became a US citizen. Her high school years were spent in Floodwood, MN. She met her husband to be as a freshman at Grace Bible Institute. Doris loved Jesus as her Savior and Lord from the age of five, and now forever abides with Him!

Doris was typically the quietest person in the room, was always proper, poised and elegant in public; perhaps a complete disguise of her willingness to perform the most menial tasks with joy, if it would meet another person’s comfort or need. She epitomized thoughtfulness and service.

Doris leaves to mourn her passing, her intensely devoted husband Marvin, her four admiring sons – Gary, Brad, Curtis, and Craig, daughters-in-law, ten grandchildren, and four siblings, plus other relatives, and friends too numerous to count.

Her dementia journey began 15 years ago and her husband cared for her at home until nine months before her passing. Marvin wrote the following tribute nearly a year before her passing.

Marvin Epp’s tribute to Doris

My prayers for good health, energy and strength to care for Doris with the dignity she deserves began as soon as I became aware regarding the earliest signs of her dementia. God has granted my request as of this writing! I want to make daily visits through her last day on this earth, to assure she’s receiving the care she has earned.

Marvin shares what has been called an Alzheimer’s patient’s prayer by an unknown author:


Do not ask me to remember.

Don’t try to make me understand.

Let me rest and know you’re with me.

Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.

I’m confused beyond your concept.

I am sad and sick and lost.

All I know is that I need you

To be with me at all cost.

Do not lose your patience with me.

Do not scold or curse or cry.

I can’t help the way I’m acting,

Can’t be different ‘though I try.

Just remember that I need you,

That the best of me is gone.

Please don’t fail to stand beside me,

Love me ’til my life is done.


To Doris’ credit, she embraced the role of mother and homemaker. No task was too menial if it would enhance the home she occupied with those who shared her presence, whether family or guest. She was the queen, and simultaneously unselfish servant in her castle. Of greater significance, she guided four boys into becoming respectful teenagers who were admired by both their peers and adults, and then to responsible and God honoring manhood, making them the leaders we need in today’s society. Would that all mothers saw the value in such an accomplishment, rather than first aspiring to other goals and treating motherhood as an adjunct.

Doris became non-verbal so I’ve been functionally single for years with Doris in my full time care, however, I’m not an angel only doing what I promised, “till death do us part”. Doris’ earliest, although slight, symptoms started 14 years ago. She’s been “by my side” both figuratively and literally, in the most supportive way anyone could hope for or expect. She has also been a friend to many, quietly and generously served without recognition, ministered for years in the church nursery, been a warm and loving hostess to numerous individuals in our home including overnight arrangements, almost a mom to the friends of our sons, and never left a negative impression with anyone she met. She was easy to love, because she never asked anything for herself. She is a true treasure, as excerpted from Prov 31:10-31:

  • a wife of noble character
  • her husband has full confidence in her
  • she brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life
  • she is clothed with strength and dignity
  • she speaks with wisdom
  • she watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness
  • her children arise and call her blessed, her husband also
  • a woman who fears the Lord
  • let her works bring her praise!

Any woman in a marriage relationship would be honoring the God we claim, and do well to emulate who she has been to me. God was infinitely gracious in allowing me to be a part of her many wonderful and vibrant years as my wife, mother to our four sons, passionate lover, soul mate and spiritual companion.  She is a spiritual “Medal of Honor” recipient, in my humble assessment. I feel truly blessed.

P.S. Wednesday, July 15, ’15 – Doris passed away at 5:30pm, while I was speaking love in her ear and with her resting in my arms, and the boys around me. Just two weeks short of our 60th anniversary. I will honor her by wearing a necklace to display her original wedding/engagement ring set, to my final day on this earth. After her 15 years with dementia, “THE BATTLE IS OVER, DORIS IS WITH JESUS!”

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Eleanor R. Christensen, ’53

Posted on 25 August 2015 by editor

55d50202a393dEleanor R. Christensen ’53 of St. Paul, Neb., died  August 19, 2015 at the age of 82. She was born November 25, 1932, in Goltry, Okla., to Rev. Theodore and Matilda (Schmidt) Epp.Eleanor attended school in Enid, Okla., Grand Island, and Lincoln. As a child, Eleanor and her siblings sang on the radio during the Back to the Bible ministry, which her father founded. She graduated from Lincoln High School in 1950.  She then attended Grace College of the Bible in Omaha where she earned her degree.

          She was united in marriage to Kenneth Christensen on July 17, 1953, in Lincoln.  The couple moved to St. Paul where they were both instrumental in the forming of Grace Baptist Church. Eleanor worked for the Nebraska Department of Social Services in Grand Island for 15 years.  Eleanor was also an avid reader and lifetime learner, continuing to take courses and study history. She was active in the church and the couple did mission work in Mexico and Japan.  

          Eleanor and Kenneth traveled all over the world including Europe, Africa, Mexico, Japan and Jamaica. The couple celebrated their 50th anniversary in Tanzania, Africa, and were blessed to celebrate their 60th anniversary in 2013 shortly before the death of Kenneth.

          Survivors include three sons and two daughters-in-law, David and Donna Christensen of Lincoln; Roger Christensen of Englewood, Col.; Steve and Kate Christensen of Mendota Heights, Minn; a daughter and son-in-law, Connie and Tom Keller of Des Moines, Iowa; 10 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren; one brother and sister-in-law, Herbert and Selma Epp of Lincoln; three sisters and brothers-in-law, Bernice and Bernie Wiseman of Sour Lake, Texas, Marilyn and Dave Sundeen of Waverly, and Virginia and Harold Warkintin of Corn, Okla.

          She is preceded in death by her parents; husband, Kenneth; one son, Doug Christensen; one granddaughter, Ellen Christensen and one brother, Gerald Epp.

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Glendon J. Klaassen, ’55

Posted on 10 August 2015 by editor

jklaassen55Glendon J. Klaasen was born March 30, 1933, in Mountain Lake, Minn., to Jacob A. and Sarah Unruh Klaassen. Sarah passed away at an early age and Glen’s father remarried Mary Goossen when he was 4.

He grew up on a farm in Mountain Lake and accepted Christ at an early age. He first attended and graduated from Grace Bible Institute in Omaha, Nebraska, where he met the love of his life, Reitha Kaufman. They were married July 15, 1955, in Newton, Kansas.

He continued his education at the University of Omaha in social work; graduated from Goshen College with a degree in secondary education in 1958; and obtained a Master of Divinity degree from Mennonite Biblical Seminary in 1974.

He was ordained as a minister July 19, 1959. He and Reitha confirmed a call to become mission workers in Colombia, South America, with the Board of Missions of the General Conference Mennonite Church of Newton, Kansas. On Aug. 28, 1959, they left the U.S. to embark on 18 years of mission work in Colombia. They aided in ministries to children, teaching at Bible schools, setting up churches, teaching and leading people to know Christ and understand the joy of salvation.

They returned to Newton in 1977. Glen accepted the call to pastor Hoffnungsau Mennonite Church in Inman, Kansas, in 1979. In 1981, he accepted a call from the Commission on Overseas Mission to become the secretary of Latin America and later executive secretary, in Newton,  where he retired in 1998.

Glen and Reitha recently celebrated 60 years of marriage! He enjoyed family, traveling, music, tennis and various collections, including stamps and foreign currency from all of his travels.

In 2011, Glen was diagnosed with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP). He fought a the disease courageously for 4 years and died at his home in The Villages, Florida.

He is survived by his wife, Reitha; four children, Mark and Susan (Yoder) Klaassen of Indiana, Steve and Evie (Wood) Klaassen of Florida, James and Catherine (Scott) Klaassen of New Jersey, and Steve and Marcella (Klaassen) Andres of Kansas; 11 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. He is also survived by an older sister, Ethel and Ernie Neufeld of California; a brother, Marvin and Peggy Klaassen of Pennsylvania; and a younger sister, Jeanette and Paul Kroeker of Nebraska.

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Anna Ruth Baerg Koehn, ’49

Posted on 06 August 2015 by editor

Anna Ruth would say the most influential person in her life was her Lord Jesus Christ. Her relationship with Him has carried her through difficult times in her life and difficult choices that would ultimately make her the woman she was. At age 13, Anna Ruth accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. Her love for Christ has been displayed throughout her life.

     Anna Ruth Baerg Koehn was born to Jacob and Maria Baerg on January 20, 1927, on the family farm north of Butterfield, Minn. She passed away on July 27, 2015, in Oklahoma City, Okla., at the age of 88. She graduated from high school in Mountain Lake, Minnesota. She attended Grace Bible Institute (now Grace University) in Omaha, Nebraska, where she met Clifford Koehn. Prior to their marriage, she received nurses training at the Vocational School of Nursing in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Then on June 22, 1950, she married Clifford at her home church at Butterfield, Minnesota.

     Anna Ruth and Clifford planned to go to the mission field, but because of health issues their plans changed. Instead, they entered the ministry taking their first church near Langdon, N.D. Because of their continuing interest in missions, four years later they moved to Seiling, Okla., as home missionaries to the Cheyenne Indians. In 1975, they moved to Geary, Okla.,to pastor the First Mennonite Church. They remained in that pastorate till the church closed.   

     She was preceded in death by her parents, Jacob and Maria Baerg, her brother Henry and his wife Martha, brother Jacob, and sister Marie. She is survived by her husband Clifford of Geary, Okla; 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. She is also survived by four grandchildren, Michael Brendemuehl, Steven Brendemuehl, Brian Koehn and Renae Koehn; and siblings David Baerg, Arthur and Rosella Baerg, Matilda and Dewayne Erickson, and Paul and Corina Baerg.

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Mark A. Pauls, ’86

Posted on 13 July 2015 by editor

mark_pauls86Mark A. Pauls ’86  passed away at age 58 on July 4 in Omaha. He was born on August 29, 1956, to Harold and Joyce (Bagshaw) Pauls. He was preceded in death by his father, Harold Pauls. He is survived by wife, Diane Pauls; sons, Matthew Pauls, Scott Pauls (Katie Odinas), Daniel Pauls, Andrew Pauls, and Ethan Pauls; grandchild, Bailey Wilkins; mother, Joyce Pauls; sister, Cathy Edmonston; brothers, Richard Pauls (Lisa) and Dennis Pauls (Karen).

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Mark Pauls, ’86

Posted on 08 July 2015 by editor

Mark Pauls ’86 went home to be with his Lord on Saturday, July 4.  You may remember a prayer request for him back in May that the doctors had done all they could for his cancer. Pray for Diane and the family as they grieve their loss but celebrate the reunion in heaven.

The Celebration of Mark’s life will take place on Monday, July 13th at Brookside Church, 11607 M Circle, Omaha, NE 68137. Visitation with the family will be at 10:00 a.m. and the service will begin at 11:00 a.m. There will be a light lunch following the service at the church. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to SIM/USA, attn Priority Fund, P.O. Box 7900, Charlotte, N. C. 28241.

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