I was born on March 14, 1926, in a small farm house in the slate hills west of the Conocheague Creek in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. My name comes from the three important people of that day. My mother’s maiden name was Ruth Martin. So my first name is Martin.
My mother already had a six year old son, and at the time of his birth was warned against having more children because of her frail health. Dr. Theodore Weagley presided at the births of my brother and me. I don’t remember being told directly, but I think that Dr. Weagley saved the life of my mother and me. In his honor my parents gave me Weagley as a second name. My father was John Irvin Lehman, so my full name was to be Martin Weagley Lehman. The good doctor had the final word. My name on my birth certificate is Martin W. Lehman. I think the doctor would not burden me with a name which could be easily mocked into “wiggly.” My affection for the old doctor grows through the years. I remember his round face with a mustache.
My father was a Mennonite pastor, evangelist, and Bible teacher. He was an organic farmer before organic farming and gardening was popular. He owned 29 acres which he turned into a self-sustaining organic farm growing a variety of berries and vegetables. I grew up on this farm. My chores included milking the cow, “slopping” the pigs, feeding chickens and gathering eggs, turning compost, and helping my father tend the bees and extract the honey. My Mother gave me a love of birds and nature. I was an amateur environmentalist.
I attended Eastern Mennonite School where Rhoda Krady and I met and became friends. I served in Alternative Service for Conscientious Objectors to war. In 1947, Rhoda Krady and I were married. We became the parents of Rachel Elaine.
In 1950 we were sent by the Eastern Mennonite Mission Board to Tampa, Florida to serve as mission superintendent and pastor. There we adopted a son, Jonathan Conrad. In 1961 I was ordained bishop by the Lancaster Conference. I served as a conference executive in the church in the southeast until retirement in 1991.
In 2006 we moved to Goshen, Indiana, to live with Rachel and her husband, Eldon Stoltzfus. Rhoda read everything I wrote before it was published until she died on January 3, 2012 And even now, she seems to look over my shoulder as I write. If a comma is lacking or wrongly placed or a word misspelled, it is because she is not really here. I miss her. I am by heritage and by choice a Christian and a Mennonite. That means that I believe in and seek to follow Jesus of the New Testament.
I am old and it is time for me think and rethink the past that I know, and ponder the future that I don’t know. Sometime in the past I began to call myself the Old Fool. The Old Fool invites you to think along with him, and to respond with kind comments and discerning questions in the light of your faith and doubt. My Political Heritage and Pilgrimage tells of more events that influenced me.