Goshen College Bulletin, September 1996
The Alumni Board is pleased to announce the 1996 Culture for Service Awardees. They are John A. Friesen ’38, Goshen; Beulah Stauffer Hostetler ’47, Willow Grove, Pa., and William D. Pletcher ’51, Elkhart. This is the seventh year the board has named alumni whose lives exemplify the college motto, Culture for Service, to receive this award.
John Friesen was born to missionary parents in Central India. Between the ages of 9 and 16 he attended boarding schools in the foothills of the Himalayas then came to the U.S.
After finishing high school and two years at Hesston College, he came to GC in the fall of 1936. He says, “From the moment I set foot on the Goshen College campus, I sensed something very right about this move. My courses under Harold Bender and Sanford Yoder, the great choral programs and tours under Walter Yoder’s direction, the enthusiastic student body where we all knew each other by name, all provided a maturing stability to my faith.” Here he met Genevieve Yoder ’39 who shared his convictions for overseas mission. They married the day after she graduated and left that fall as missionaries to India under the Mennonite Board of Missions (MBM).
John and Genevieve served 41 years in India during the struggle to end colonialism and the rise of partnership with Indian Christians in the church. Their work was primarily with leprosy clinics, doing village evangelism and pastoring. John says Genevieve contributed much to their partnership. “I shall forever be especially grateful for a life partner in Genevieve whose companionship has made mine a true ‘we’ pilgrimage.” They are the parents of five sons, all GC graduates: J. Stanley ’62, G. Weldon ’63, C. Richard ’66, G. Delbert ’69 and D. William ’73.
In 1981, the Friesens returned from India for retirement, but did interpretation work for MBM for five years. Later, they served interim pastorates in Poarch, Ala.; Manson, Iowa; Valparaiso, Ind.; and Talcum, Ky. They are members of College Mennonite Church.
Beulah Stauffer Hostetler has been an independent researcher and writer for most of her adult life. After graduating from GC with a B.A. in history, she went on to earn an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation was titled “Franconia Mennonite Conference and American Protestant Movements, 1840-1940.”
Much of her professional work has been focused around her interest and expertise in Mennonites and Amish in America. From 1986 to 1990 she was assistant professor of sociology and religion at Elizabethtown College. She has lectured and given papers at numerous other colleges and universities in the U.S., France and Japan.
She was research director for a genealogical project at Johns Hopkins University, 1964-68, which resulted in the publication of a book, Index to Selected Amish Genealogies, in 1970. Another book, American Mennonites and Protestant Movements, was published by Herald Press in 1987.
Her career has been shaped by substantial blocks of time devoted to home and family; she began graduate school after her youngest child was in elementary school. She is married to John A. Hostetler ’49; they are parents of Ann, Mary, and Laura ’83. She and John are active in the Blooming Glen (Pa.) Mennonite Church.
Goshen native William Pletcher graduated from GC in 1951 with a B.A. in chemistry. Following graduation he studied at Northwestern University Medical School and received an M.D. in 1955. During two summer vacations, he taught anatomy and physiology at the GC school of nursing.
He and Sarah Fike were married and moved to Humacao, Puerto Rico, to work at Ryder Hospital for three years of alternative service. After returning to the U.S. and completing residency at University Hospital in Ann Arbor, the family moved to Elkhart. He has practiced internal medicine at the Elkhart Clinic since 1963. His special interest is hematology and oncology.
He was instrumental in forming Elkhart Community Hospice and continues as medical director. He served as medical chief of staff at Elkhart General Hospital and now chairs both the blood bank committee and the pastoral care committee.
The Pletchers have been instrumental in bringing students from Ethiopia, Indonesia, Japan and Jordan to GC. He and his family served short-term mission trips twice to the Dominican Republic, as well as to Guatemala and Ecuador.
He and Sarah are active members of the Elkhart City Church of the Brethren. They are parents of Steven ’80, Stanley ’86, Barbara and Brian.