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Belva Unruh

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Belva Unruh

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Mom was born in Freeman, S.D. on September 1, 1924 to Anna and Edward Waltner. She attended a one-room schoolhouse through grade 8 and graduated from Freeman Academy. Her family attended Salem Mennonite Church which had a rich tradition of music that nurtured Mom’s musical gifts.

Excelling academically, Mom went to Bethel College where she met Dad. They were married in 1946, after which they moved to New York for Dad to attend seminary. Their first pastorate was in Pulaski, Iowa, where Judi was born. They then answered a call to mission work in Japan, a new field that the General Conference was opening in the early 1950’s. Pat and Paul were born in Japan during this time and Barb was born in South Dakota during one of their furloughs.

After 15 years in Japan they returned to Newton, Dad serving as Asia Secretary for the Commission on Overseas Mission and Mom working as a nurse aide at Friendly Acres and attending Hesston College to earn her nursing degree.

Their second mission assignment in 1978 was to Taiwan, where they worked in church planting and with the local Mennonite church and Christian Hospital in Hualien.

Following their return to the U.S. in 1988, they were active at First Mennonite Church, Dad serving in pastoral roles and Mom active in Sunday school and committees such as the quilting circle. They moved to Kidron Bethel Village in 2002, continuing their involvement and service with family, church and community.

While her life had many blessings, like all of us she also endured difficult times. Dad’s death in 2006, followed by Pat’s illness and death in 2010 were especially difficult. She was able to care for Pat during the last year of her life and was grateful for that time she could spend with her in Pennsylvania.

Following deteriorating health conditions in this past summer, Mom moved into health care. She died peacefully in her sleep on Tuesday, November 20, 2018.

Mom was preceded in death by her parents and three brothers, Homer, Laverne and Don Walter; her husband Verney; and a daughter Pat.

She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Judi and Peter Molelnkof, Lancaster, Pa.; son-in-law and his wife, Bruce and Mim Tilton, Philadelphia; son and his wife, Paul and Chris Unruh, Hesston, Kan.; and daughter and her husband, Barb and Ernie Beachey, Hudson, Wis.

She also leaves behind grandchildren Eri (Mollenkof) Bindewald and her husband Dave, Phil Mollenkof and his wife Allie, Zachary Unruh and his wife Jessica, Heidi (Tilton) Beatty and her husband Scott, Lindsey (Kirkpatrick) Beebe and her husband Ryan, Nicholas Unruh, Ricky Tilton and his wife Lydia, Kelsey Kirkpatrick and fiancé Kyle Cavanaugh, Landon Unruh and his wife Taylor, Jamison Unruh and 12 great-grandchildren.

Great-grandchildren she leaves behind are Ella, Lucy and Kate Bindewald; Ian and Peter Mollenkof; Dylan, Harrison and Sadie Unruh; Luke Tilton; and foster great-grandchildren Khali, Kaidyn and Luka.