OBITUARY: Esther Rinner

Esther Pearl (Lehrman) Rinner was born Sept. 10, 1922, in Aberdeen, Idaho, the daughter of Henry H. and Theresa (Wiebe) Lehrman, and died on May 30, 2020 in North Newton, Kansas.

She was baptized and became a member of the First Mennonite Church of Aberdeen, and enjoyed being a member of the Girl Scouts. She attended Bethel College and was granted a teaching certificate there in 1942. She then taught at the one-room Candy School east of Newton for one year and then for two years in the elementary school in American Falls, Idaho.

She returned to Bethel College where she received her B.S. degree In Education in 1947, graduating with distinction.

During two summers in a women’s service unit and then for one year in the 1940s, she was an attendant in a state mental hospital in Ypsilanti, Michigan. This was followed by a year and a half of voluntary service in LaPlata, Puerto Rico under Mennonite Central Committee, working with children in a community center.

On June 30, 1949 Esther was married in the First Mennonite Church of Aberdeen, Idaho to Andrew James (Jim) Rinner of Wayland, Iowa, a Civilian Public Service worker she had met while serving in Ypsilanti. Throughout their married life, his career as a nursing student and then nursing instructor took them to homes in Chicago, North Newton, Hutchinson, Denver, and since 1960 in Newton, Kansas. The couple’s two daughters, Jeanette and Amy, were born during the family’s years in Hutchinson. Jim and Esther spent their last years at the Kidron Bethel Retirement Center in North Newton. Her husband died on April 27, 2004 after almost 55 years of marriage.

Esther was always active in church work, community, and education. She was a substitute teacher In Hutchinson and was employed as secretary for the Mennonite Western District Conference office and the development office at Bethel College in North Newton. Most of her working years were as secretary and administrative assistant for the executive secretary of the General Conference Mennonite Commission on Home Ministries in the Newton headquarters.

She was a volunteer in many places, including Sunday school and Vacation Bible School teacher and director, congregational and church council secretary in Bethel College Mennonite Church; teacher in Newton’s Released Time Bible School; docent at Warkentin House; treasurer for Newton Church Women United; member of a Harvey County Extension Homemakers Unit; PTA president at Washington School; 4-H Club leader; Bethel Deaconess Hospital Auxiliary; volunteer at Newton Medical Center gift shop and at the Mennonite Library and Archives at Bethel College.

Esther had a great love of travel, beginning in her childhood when her family drove from Idaho in a Model T Ford to visit relatives in Kansas in the 1930s. In her married life, the family traveled to many places, including across the Western United States and several times to Europe. She and Jim also traveled to the Soviet Union, Israel and Canada. She loved classical music, doing handwork and making scrapbooks.

Besides her husband, she was preceded in death by her parents and sisters Ruby Lehrman and Elva Brucks, brother Charles Lehrman, and son-in-law Steve Grantstein. She is survived by sister-in-law Lois Lehrman of BuhI, Idaho; daughters Jeanette Grantstein of Wichita and Amy (Rinner, Dueckman) Waddell (Marc) of Abbotsford, British Columbia; grandchildren Abigail Grantstein Howard (Lucas), Andrew Grantstein (Kathleen), James David Dueckman (Pauline), Noel Dueckman (Stephanie),Laura Dueckman Merritt (Ryan), and great-grandchildren Evangeline Grantstein, Bonnie Grantstein, Caroline Howard and Zachary Dueckman and nine beloved nieces and nephews.

Memorials can be designated for Bethel College Rinner Nursing Scholarship Fund, Bethel College Mennonite Church, or Western District Mennonite Conference In Care of Petersen Funeral Home.

A memorial service will be held at the Bethel College Mennonite Church at a future date to be determined