Novel revives Clayton Kratz's legacy
By: Tyler Faulk '09

Many alumni and current Goshen College students have undoubtedly spent significant time studying, sleeping – and even pulling a prank or two – in Kratz Residence Hall, without knowing the significance of the man behind the hall’s name.

To keep Kratz’s legacy alive, Judy Clemens ’91 wrote the novel, Lost Sons, published in April by Herald Press. Kratz, a Goshen College student in the 1910s, put his promising college life on hold the summer before his senior year. The popular junior class president, who was engaged to be married, left for Russia in 1920 with two other men. On one of the first Mennonite Central Committee relief projects, the men distributed clothing and supplies to people of war-torn Russia. Two months into his trip, however, Kratz was arrested and never heard from again.

Clemens’ novel, set in the present day, tells the story of Stan Windmere, whose son, a sailor in the U.S. Navy, goes missing in Russia. As he tries to solve the mystery of his son’s disappearance, Stan learns the story of Clayton Kratz, and fears he may never see his son again. Clemens said, “Kratz’s willingness to go where the church called him, even knowing it could be the end of his college education – not to mention his life – is one we can learn from.”

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