1995 Culture for Service Awards
Goshen College Bulletin, September 1995
The Alumni Board has selected the 1995 Culture for Service Awardees. They are Kodwo E. Ankrah ’58, Vera M. Good ’52, and brothers Meryl Grasse ’44 and John Grasse ’49, who were nominated as a team.
Kodwo Ankrah came to GC from his native Ghana in 1954 and graduated with a degree in sociology in 1958. He received a M.S.W. from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work and a graduate certificate in church and community from Hartford Seminary. He then studied at Hartford University School of Business Administration.
He has spent his life working with the church in Africa – in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and other East African countries. He worked for the All Africa Conference of Churches in Nairobi, Kenya, as the refugee officer for the agency. Later, he was Africa secretary for the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland, responsible for development and planning for programs in African churches.
He has taught at the Theological College, Bishop Tucker Theological College, Church of Uganda and in his retirement lives in Mukono, Uganda.
He was awarded The Order of Two Niles by the Sudan Government for his part in assisting to negotiate peace between the rebels and the Government of Sudan. Though he is a Methodist, the House of Bishops of the (Anglican) Church of Uganda made him a Canon, an honorary award normally reserved for pastors and clergy for distinguished service to the Church.
He is married to Dr. Eleanor Maxine Ankrah, associate professor of social work at Makerere University, Kampala. They are the parents of Rodges ’85 and Aba Ankrah.
Vera M. Good, a retired educator, is active in the Canadian Federation of University Women, the Philan-thropic Women’s Organization and the Women’s Institute of Ontario. She has been a leader in these organizations, all of which help rural women and girls gain employment skills, and in local, provincial, national and international education.
The fifth of seven children reared in a rural Mennonite family near Waterloo, Ontario, during the Depression years, she and her siblings each contributed to the family income as soon as they had graduated from the eighth grade. After going to business school for one year, she worked in an office for 12 years. Her thirst for learning and achievement led to her decision to complete high school and enter normal school to become an elementary teacher.
Her commitment to the church led her to serve with Mennonite Central Committee as office administrator and refugee worker in India for three years. Upon her return, she enrolled at Goshen College where she received a B.S. in education in 1952. She went on to receive a master’s degree from Northwestern University and an Ed.D. from Columbia University.
In her education career, she was a teacher and principal, initiating programs for gifted children. She became director of in-service education for teachers. She served with the Ontario Ministry of Education from 1965 until her retirement in 1981. She was the first woman named Inspector of Schools in Ontario and became the first superintendent of TV-Ontario educational television. Later she became the network’s first executive director and superintendent of programming in early childhood education. A main objective was to help teachers learn how to use TV in the classroom.
She has life membership in the Ontario Association of Curriculum Development and the Ontario Educational Association. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Doon, Ontario, in 1982. She is an active member of the Baptist church in her community.
Meryl Grasse graduated from GC in 1944 with a B.A. in biology and received a M.D. degree from Hahnemann Medical School (Philadelphia) three years later. He served two years as medical director at Nazareth, Ethiopia, under the Mennonite Relief and Service Committee, then went to Indonesia for one year under Mennonite Central Committee.
John L. Grasse majored in natural science, received a B.A. from GC in 1950 and later received a B.S. in technology from Hahnemann Medical School.
In 1952 Meryl and Gladys Landis ’49 came to Calico Rock, Ark., a town on the bank of the White River with no bridge over it for 50 miles in either direction. The church mission board already had a medical clinic staffed with two midwives and a 12- grade school in the vicinity in the Ozark National Forest that borders the south bank of the river. John Grasse worked as X-ray and laboratory technician and his wife, Mary Margaret Miller ’49, served as office nurse.
The Grasse’s original call turned into a lifelong commitment. They have lived and worked in Calico Rock during their entire careers with brief times away for further study or service.
The clinic opened in the basement of Meryl’s home. Payment for medical services was sometimes in the form of chickens, eggs or other produce. Eventually they were able to build a hospital where John became the administrator. It now has 90 employees.
Meryl and Gladys, a nurse, have six children. John and Mary Margaret, a home economics major who later became a nurse, have three children.
The two families saw a need for a Mennonite Church in Calico Rock and eventually started a church there. They purchased an abandoned church, furnished it and used it for years before building a new church. John has preached, taught Sunday School and weekly Bible studies. Meryl, Gladys and Mary Margaret, too, have been active in the life of the church.
John and Meryl are recognized for the enormous contributions they have made to the Calico Rock community through the medical services made available, their establishment of the church, their involvement in community activities and most importantly, for their daily lives and witness as exemplary Christians.