Out of Ordinary Order

The Roy and Lois Stoltzfus family originated in Pennsylvania. They had two sons and a daughter, then they moved to Snow Hill, Maryland to help four other families plant a new Mennonite Church.  In Maryland they had three more children: two sons and a daughter.

Eldon Stoltzfus

Eldon Stoltzfus

Eldon, the oldest Stoltzfus child is my son-in-law.  As a hospice Chaplain he brings information, strength and comfort to persons on the way from life to death, and to the people bereaved by their passing.  In the past weeks the process of dying came close to this family, for their youngest brother was dying.  Eldon needed to deliberately lay aside the skills of his  profession, and model for his siblings how to suffer loss and yet let go of the brother he loved.

2015-02-08 23.22.04

Mervin Stoltzfus

Mervin, the youngest son of Roy and Lois is the focus of this blog.  He was husband, father of three sons, successful salesman, friend of everyone he met, a deacon of the local Baptist Church.  His susceptibility to cancer and his  early death seemed out of order.  He was, after all, the youngest of six siblings.  Another should be the first to die.

2015-02-08 23.09.28When Roy, the clan father, died the family gathered for a reunion at Laurelville Church Center. The picture to the right was taken at that time. The picture seems to have been taken for this occasion. Lowell is at the top with his arms around Carol on the right, and Mary Beth on the left. Mervin is seated on the ground. Jay, left, Lois, their mother, center, and Eldon, right, have their hands on Mervin.

The four brothers grew up on the DelMarva Peninsula where they were surrounded by fishing opportunities.  Mervin lived near the lakes in Northern New York State. He invited his three older brothers to enjoy a fishing trip with him.

IMG_0406They fished for a day after which Mervin kept an appointment with his doctor.  He returned to tell his brothers that he had just been told that he had prostate cancer.   The brothers fished a second day with the full knowledge that this might be the last fishing trip to be enjoyed by all four brothers.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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6 Responses to Out of Ordinary Order

  1. Audrey Metz says:

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful memory, Martin. Hope you and your family and Your Joy are enjoying the winter.

  2. SaraAlice Zimmerly says:

    It is not easy to lose a younger sibling. My sympathy and a prayer for you, Eldon, and the family. SaraAlice

  3. Sam Troyer says:

    I am so sorry to hear about your loss Eldon, I am sure this experience was different for you. That fishing trip will be a sacred memory now. I was happily sailing along until the day Betsy told me of her cancer, it seemed my world was turned upside down. Life is beautiful. I liked the way Martin described your presence as a hospice chaplain as “bringing information, strength and comfort to people on the way,” God bless you as you keep on dong that, now with a more profound sense of personal loss.

  4. D. Lowell N issley says:

    Eldon, I’m sorry to learn of your brother. I was also glad to know more about you. I thought you were the only Stoltzfus important to the family. God’s blessings to you all. Incidently, I was fund raiser for a couple years for the Sarasota Hospice several years ago.

    • Lowell, I saw your sister’s picture in The Mennonite devoted to the Mennonite Cook Book a few week’s ago. It is the first picture I have seen of her, as I recall. I recalled your story of her struggle to accept peculiar Mennonite dress in Tampa. She was indeed a beautiful young woman. I’m glad she held her ground and latrt accepted Mrs. Brackbill’s counsel after moving to Pennsylvania. – Martin

  5. Carroll Lehman says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, Eldon. It was a pleasure meeting you this summer and seeing your happy family there in Goshen.

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