Archive | Obituaries


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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Wilbur E. Goertz, ’64

Posted on 01 July 2015 by editor

Wilbur E. Goertz ’64, age 93, died June 21, 2015, in Hesston, Kansas. He was married to Berniece Stucky who preceded him in death. He is survived by his children, Bonnie, John, Ruth and Daniel; nine grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; sisters, Marieanna Siemens and Loretta Zehr; and brother, Ronald. 

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Ella Reddig Berg, ’54

Posted on 02 June 2015 by editor

Ella Reddig Berg ’54 passed away January 29, 2015, at age 84 in Hillsboro, Kansas.  She was born to Karl and Bertha (Funk) Reddig in Luster, Montana. Survivors include: husband, Elton Berg of Hillsboro; sons, Steven (Sandra) of Wichita, Samuel (Lisa) of Ozark, Missouri, David of Yale, South Dakota; daughter, Deborah (Todd) Reynolds of Woodinville, Washington; 14 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.

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Willie C. “Bill” Wiebe, ’54

Posted on 15 May 2015 by editor

bill-wiebe515Willie (Bill) C. Wiebe, 89, of Elbing, Kansas, son of Anna (Epp) and Herman A. Wiebe, died May 12, 2015, in Newton, Kansas.

He is survived by his wife of 14 years, Arlene (Dietz) Wiebe; his daughter, Nancy Holliday and her husband, Patrick; grandchildren Nicole Holliday, Rebecca Holliday, and Abigail Holliday; his daughter-in-law, Arleta Wiebe; and grandchildren, Andrea Wiebe, Stephanie Tester, Warren Wiebe. He also leaves two siblings, Gladys Wiebe and Richard Wiebe, along with his wife, Margaret. He was preceded in death by his wife of 46 years, Dorothy (Dottie) Landis Wiebe, his son, Kevin Wiebe, his parents, and six siblings.

Born on February 20, 1926, he was raised on a farm east of Whitewater, Kansas. His early years were spent working on the farm and attending a country school as well as German school.

World War II interrupted his education and he served in alternate military service. When he was 23, he finally graduated from high school in Hesston, Kansas. He then attended Grace University in Omaha, where he met his sweetheart, Dottie Landis. They were married on August 15, 1952, in Newton, Kansas. They lived on a farm in rural Furley for a few years, where daughter, Nancy, and son, Kevin, were born. They then moved to Winona Lake, Indiana.

In the late 1950s, the family moved to rural Peabody, Kansas, where Willie started farming. He enjoyed carpentry and built the house that they lived in. Bill became active in the Gideons and also filled in as pastor in a small church in Wichita.

In 1982, Bill and Dottie, took a step of faith and Bill became the pastor of a small church in Homestead, Oklahoma. He felt that he had truly found God’s calling for his life. He loved preaching the Word of God and ministering to the small but vibrant congregation. After serving for 16 years, they retired to Elbing, Kansas, to live next door to his son Kevin and his family.

During his retirement, Bill continued to serve the Emmaus Church for another 10 years as an associate pastor, and later as visitation pastor. He visited countless people in hospitals and in their homes and always ministered to their spiritual needs.

Dottie went to meet the Lord in 1997, and Bill adjusted. He knew of Arlene Dietz in Pennsylvania because Dottie had been friends with the Dietz girls. After corresponding for a few months, they discussed marriage and were wed on November 25, 2000. Arlene became indispensable to Bill in this ministry as she also went on visits to the ill and home bound. Bill always said that she kept the conversation going when he ran out of words to say.

Bill Wiebe’s passion was for God’s Word. His insights from the pulpit or in Sunday School were uniquely purposeful, and sometimes, of necessity, pointed. Many people learned from his teaching and preaching. His passion was so great that even in his last hours, he found strength to pray for his wife, his children, his grandchildren, and even his country.

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Richard Wesley Enns, ’48

Posted on 29 April 2015 by editor

richard_wesleyRichard Wesley Enns, age 85, died Saturday, April 25, 2015. He was born and raised on a farm near Meade, KS, the son of Abraham J. and Susie (Warkentine) Enns on February 6, 1930. Richard taught in the Wichita School District for over 30 years, retiring in 1992. In retirement he taught his beloved classical guitar and other stringed instruments to students of all ages. Richard was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Ruth (Watkins) Enns; 4 brothers; and 3 sisters. Survivors include: two sisters, Ruby, Meade, KS, and Jane (John) Thielenhaus, Norton, OH; children, Eric, Topeka, KS, Erin, Wichita; and two grandchildren, Megan and Paul, both of Wichita.

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Ruby Ruth Fast, ’55

Posted on 29 April 2015 by editor

ruby_fastRuby Fast was born Ruby Ruth Warkentin on March 29, 1922, in the plains of western Kansas.

At home with her parents Henry and Sarah and three siblings, she grew up speaking Plautdietsch (Low German), the language of her forebears who came from the Molotschna colony in Ukraine. English was her second language, acquired in a one-room country school.

On the farm, hardships were plenty. She endured the massive dust storms of the 1930s that could turn day as dark as night. She witnessed total ruin of her dad’s ripe wheat fields by violent hail, and she experienced a close encounter with a tornado. In winter, she layered up blankets in the cold of a drafty upstairs bedroom where a little powder snow could even drift onto the covers. Chores included wandering far out over unfenced pasture land to find and bring in the cattle.

After completing high school in the town of Meade, she enrolled at Tabor College where she earned credentials as a school teacher.

From 1945 to 1949, back in Meade County, she taught in a few different schools, again with all the grades in a single room. Teaching Vacation Bible School in the Ozarks and then further studies at the Rio Grande Bible Institute, including Spanish, led to her teaching Vacation Bible School in Monclova, Mexico.

While teaching in Mexico, a German student from Grace Bible Institute in Omaha, Nebraska, came through town on a road trip to see the work of Wycliffe Bible Translators farther south. Her acquaintance with Gerhard Fast was meant to be, and a match for life was made. Ruby now took on the challenge of learning High German.

With a mutual vision to be a couple in missionary work, Ruby went off to California to study at the Biola School of Missionary Medicine, where she earned nursing credentials.

In 1956 Gerhard and Ruby were married. After studies at Norman Summer Institute of Linguistics and survival training at Jungle Camp, they crossed the Atlantic by ship to Germany to meet the in-laws.

In 1958 Gerhard and Ruby arrived in Peru to begin a rich, 38-year chapter of their lives. There they learned the Achuar language, into which they translated the New Testament and many portions of the Old.

Ruby spent the strength of her years backing up Gerhard in the long, meticulous process of Bible translation. She typed and re-typed text on a mechanical typewriter in the day before computer editing. She composed primers for the newly created Achuar schools, literally cutting with scissors and pasting with glue the layout that would go to the printers.

For years, she was the only recourse on the river for medical help. She treated the ever-present intestinal parasites. There was a gunshot wound that led to tetanus and a rare survival. She treated pemphigus, snake bite, sting ray wound, leishmaniasis, tuberculosis and other maladies. She boiled her needles and glass syringes and occasionally re-sharpened the tip of a needle on a rock.

Ruby and Gerhard prayed for the sick and commended them to God. Still, many patients returned later to trusted witch doctors. More was at stake than just the physical body. In the end, many were healed, and many were healed in body and soul. The Achuar Church today can testify to those years when the good seed was planted in their hearts.

Through good times and bad, Ruby lovingly raised her three children, Pablo, Danny and Monika. When appropriate, she applied discipline, but she also wisely allowed ample freedom. Her gift of hospitality and her wonderful cooking leave great memories and inspire emulation.

In 1996 Ruby and Gerhard left Peru and moved to Waxhaw, North Carolina, where they spent eight years on Radin Road in walking distance from the JAARS center.

From there, they moved four miles to live with their daughter Monika and her family. After Gerhard passed away in 2007 Ruby remained in the loving care of her daughter and son Danny, until God took her Home to be with Him where for so many years she had longed to go.

Ruby is lovingly remembered by her son Pablo with his wife Colleen and daughter Natasha; her son Danny; her daughter Monika with her husband Daniel and daughters Katja, Juliana, and Annelie; her sister Viola Friesen with her husband, Jake Z. Friesen; and her brother Albert Warkentin.

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