Goshen College’s Alumni Board is pleased to announce the 1998 Culture for Service Award recipients. They are Lester T. Hershey ’36, Fort Ashby, W.Va.; Marjorie Schertz Liechty ’53, Goshen; and Elsie Eash Sutter ’41, Goshen.
This is the ninth year the board has recognized alumni whose lives embody the GC motto. The awards are given annually to individuals who have a distinguished record of service and achievements at home or in their churches, colleges and communities and the larger world.
GC will honor these alumni during a convocation presentation at 10 a.m. Oct. 2 in the Church-Chapel as part of the Alumni Weekend Celebration.
For Lester T. Hershey of Fort Ashby, W.Va., service is not just a way of life, but a call in which he continued to find joy during 53 years of ministry. Hershey has no regrets about time spent as a minister, missionary, teacher, radio broadcaster and administrator. “They have been years of joy,” he said, “for it is a joy to serve Him who gave His life for me.”
Lester, raised in Argentina by missionary parents, earned his bachelor’s degree in Bible from GC, then worked at Mennonite Publishing House, served in Spain and received his bachelor of theology degree from Goshen Biblical Seminary. From 1940 to 1947, he was pastor at Mexican Mennonite Church, Chicago; in 1941 he married Alta Good, who graduated from GC in 1938, and the couple subsequently had three children, Janice, Sherilyn and Lester.
The year 1947 would begin a new era of service for the Hersheys; they took a missionary assignment with Mennonite Board of Missions in Puerto Rico, where they would live for the next several decades. While working with Puerto Rican Mennonite churches, Lester ministered creatively through print publications, correspondence study programs, recordings of sermons and music and, for 30 years, radio broadcasts such as “Light and Truth” heard by a large Spanish-speaking audience. Lester was also involved in Mennonite education at both the Mennonite Bible Institute and Summit Hills Mennonite Academy, and served in leadership positions with the Directors of Latin American Broadcasters organization.
In 1979, Lester and Alta retired from service in Puerto Rico to Fort Ashby, but were soon called to serve in Mexico by Pacific Coast Mennonite Mission Board, then to a Hispanic Mennonite Church in Washington, D.C., by Virginia Mennonite Mission Board.
Lester currently enjoys active membership at Pinto (Md.) Mennonite Church, where in 1986-87 he served as interim pastor; Alta passed away in 1986. He is an adviser for two churches in the Allegheny Conference, and teaches Sunday school classes.
Demonstrating a commitment to peace and justice both locally and globally, Marjorie Schertz Liechty’s inclusiveness and openness to others is part of a lifelong devotion to linking faith and action.
Growing up in Metamora, Ill., Marge was active in her home church and the Illinois Mennonite Conference. A highlight of this involvement was a Summer Bible School project in Chicago’s inner city; Marge would return to the Windy City in 1993 to direct Chicago Mennonite Learning Center, a three-year service assignment.
But long before their service in the United States, Marge and Russ, who both graduated from GC with education degrees in 1953, would hold on to the idea of living and serving in another country. First, Marge taught public school in Columbus, Ohio, and Madison, Wis., while Russ worked for advanced degrees.
In 1964, the Liechtys moved to Goshen when Russ was named GC dean of students. During the first several years they were on campus, GC’s Study-Service Term would begin, bringing new ideas and feelings to faculty and students alike. Five years later, the Liechtys decided to make time for service, and took an assignment in India.
Their younger children accompanied them during a subsequent service assignment in Nepal in 1977-78 (they returned in 1985-86) and while leading students on SST in Belize in the spring of 1974. “We intentionally gave our children the opportunity to have a different world view. Our experiences as a family internationally had a tremendous impact on our family; all of our children have done service of some sort, as well.”
The Liechtys’ four children, all GC graduates, are Joseph ’78, Jane ’80, Mark ’82 and Dan ’88.
Russ and Marge also led SST in China in the fall of 1993. Between assignments abroad, Marge involved herself in premarital counseling for students, hosting third-culture GC students and international students in her home, providing a home for students attending Bethany Christian High School, coordinating the Friendship Family Program for GC international students, leading the college-age Sunday school class from 1981 to 1993 and serving on the retired Faculty Program Committee. In addition, Marge was instrumental in developing GC’s Ethnic Fair.
In 1993, Marge and Russ decided to take a service assignment closer to home at Chicago Mennonite Learning Center. “Both of us were thinking of another assignment, this time as a cross-cultural experience within the United States,” said Marge. During this time the educator met the grandchild of a Chicagoan she had worked with during the Illinois Conference-sponsored Bible school decades before.
Settled again in the Goshen community, Marge is on the board of elders at College Mennonite Church and has had leadership positions with the church’s Women’s Fellowship. She also teaches Sunday school.
For Elsie Eash Sutter, her role as a teacher and guide, in both professional and interpersonal settings, transcends the traditional meaning of the word to include genuine care and many lifelong relationships. Whether in a school setting, at church, in her neighborhood or in the broader community, Sutter is recognized for her tremendous capacity for friendship.
Elsie graduated from GC in 1941 with a degree in elementary education; in the fall of that year, she married Clayton Sutter. When Clayton completed Civilian Public Service, they served as directors at the Mennonite Home for the Aged, Eureka, Ill., and later held similar positions at a home in Rittman, Ohio.
They then moved to Goshen, where Elsie began teaching in the community schools; Clayton worked for Mennonite Mutual Aid. Elsie enriched her classroom teaching with creative materials and classroom visitors, and was always accessible to her students.
She became involved with Walnut Hill Early Childhood Center and, as a member at East Goshen Mennonite Church, taught Sunday school and served on several commissions.
Retirement from school teaching didn’t mean a break in activity for Elsie; if anything, she diversified her friendships and responsibilities even more. Using skills she learned by returning to GC for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages courses, she began teaching English and, in addition, has helped “quite a few young people finish their high school work in order to get their GED,” she said. Elsie also befriended Chinese exchange students, inviting them to the Greencroft home where she and Clayton live, and makes contacts with Amish families so others can learn about the faith.
All of the Sutters’ children are GC graduates: Sem ’70, Miriam ’73, Beth ’76 and Ruth ’78.
Currently a resident of Oak Court at Greencroft, Elsie also has responsibilities working with the chaplain of the retirement community, mostly visiting residents. Other ongoing projects include making comforters for migrant workers and spending a lot of time volunteering with the local hospice program. She has also become a friend to new Hispanic residents of the Goshen community, working one-on-one to solve individual problems.