August 29, 1919 -- November 14, 2016

Lifelong Middlebury resident and farmer, J. Olen Yoder, 97, died Monday, November
14 at 6:18 PM at Greencroft Rehabilitation Center in Goshen, following a brief illness.
He was born August 29, 1919 to Olen and Barbara (Mishler) Yoder in Middlebury.  On
December 30, 1955, in Henderson, NE, he married Leona June Doell.  Along with his
wife, he is survived by 4 children, Sherry (Bruce) Wenger, of Wakarusa, Richard
(Juanita) Yoder, Middlebury, Mary (Randy) Kinsman, Ovilla, TX and Anita (Steve) Miller,
Goshen; 9 grandchildren, Rachel Wenger, Brittany (Spencer) Short, Brian and Neil
Yoder, Clint (Brittany) Kuykendall, Logan, Mason, William and Andrew Miller, and one
step-grandson, Noah Miller; 2 great-grandchildren, Dylan and Elsie Short.  He is also
survived by 2 sisters, Doris Wortinger and Arlene Holdread, both of Goshen.  He was
preceded in death by his parents, 3 sisters Velma Yoder, Verna Weaver, Vera Bickel,
2 brothers Ralph O. Yoder, Gerald L. Yoder and a granddaughter Caitlin Kuykendall.
J.O. graduated from Middlebury High School in 1937, and attended Purdue University
having received a Sears, Roebuck and Company scholarship, where he studied
agriculture/dairy production, and graduated in 1941.  In 1945, through The Heifer
Project, he volunteered with other young men as a ‘seagoing cowboy’ on the S.S.
Clarksville Victory ship, a relief ship that supplied horses to post-war Europe.   The
journal he kept of this eventful trip was later published, titled “Crossing to Poland:
From a Farm Background Anywhere USA to Danzig, Poland and Return”.  A charter
member of the Menno Singers, he enjoyed both singing and whistling along to music.
He attended Mennonite Seminary in Chicago, and held numerous positions at Pleasant
Oaks Mennonite church through the years, including as S.S. teacher and deacon. Not
only did he help build the Pleasant Oaks church building, he was a faithful member from
its first service on Palm Sunday, 1965 to its closure in November of 2009.  From 1951
through 1958, J.O. was instrumental in the building and development of Camp
Friedenswald, a Mennonite-affiliated church camp near Cassopolis, MI, and was the
camp’s first on-site director/manager. It was there he met his wife, Leona, as she was
the camp nurse.  From there, they returned to the Middlebury farm, and he dedicated
his remaining years to innovative and progressive farming, eventually being awarded
with the Elkhart County Farm Family of the Year in 1982, the Indiana Prairie Farmer
Master Farmer Award in 1989 and in 1996, the Elkhart County Conservation Farmer of
the Year.  He served as a Board Director for the Elkhart County Farm Bureau Credit
Union for 17 years.  Always a thinker and planner, he held a patent for a turkey loader,
and was a seeker of the truth, in awe of the Creator and forever thankful to God for
being his ‘silent partner’ in his farming career and life.  His memoirs of significant
events, that were signs of God’s guidance through his career and life, were also put
into writing to be passed on.
     "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32
Visitation will be from 4:00 - 7:00 pm on Friday November 18, at Miller-Stewart Funeral
Home, 1003 South Main Street Middlebury. There will be one hour of visitation prior to
the 12:30 pm funeral service on Saturday, November 19, at First Mennonite Church,
Middlebury. Services will be conducted by Pastor Kent Miller. Burial will be in Forest
Grove Cemetery, Middlebury. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Camp
Friedenswald or Heifer International

                                        ~  ~  ~  ~  Online Condolences  ~  ~  ~  ~
Dear Randy & Mary and family,
What an incredible, Godly legacy y'all enjoy. Mar's industrious, creative and intelligent
apple didn't fall far from her Dad's amazing tree! Praying for God's peace and comfort
for all with much love and thanksgiving for Mr. Yoder's outstanding life of service to
our Lord Jesus. God bless all y'all.
From: Del & Jean Archer

We are so sorry...He was such a remarkable man and one to be remembered...Our
prayers are with you all...
From: Richard and Judy Stutz

Dear Leona and Family,
I'm always saddened to lose another seagoing cowboy. I'm so grateful for J.O.'s
contributions to my research and am glad that he and some of his family members were
able to come to my book launch party for the release of The Seagoing Cowboy picture
book. I'm unfortunately in California right now and will be unable to come to the
visitation and memorial service. How I wish I could be there! Please know that I'll be
thinking about you all and that you are in my prayers as you adjust to the loss of J.O.'s
physical presence in your lives. Blessings. Peggy
From: Peggy Reiff Miller
J. Olen Yoder