OBITUARY: Gene Swartzendruber

Gene Swartzendruber, 93, of Hesston passed away of natural causes on October 3, 2020, at Schowalter Villa.

Gene was born July 3, 1927, in Newton to George A. and Grace F.(Snyder) Swartzendruber. The family moved to St. Johns, Mich., when Gene was 2 years old. At the age of 19, Gene traveled to Hesston to attend Hesston Academy, in keeping with the family’s strong value of Christian education. At the Academy, he met Velma Ewy, of the Hesston area, whom he later referred to as “the most beautiful girl in the world.” Velma was the daughter of Reuben and Helen (Vogt) Ewy. Gene and Velma were married in the Hesston College chapel on Oct. 26, 1950. The couple resided in the Hesston area all of their married life.

Gene farmed with Velma’s father in their early married years. Given his ability in metal working and machinery he opened Hesston Machine and Welding in 1961 in a partnership with Jonathan Mast. He continued farming along with business ownership for many years. He had a reputation in the community as a capable, trust-worthy machinist. His gift for repairing or even inventing exactly what a customer needed was one of his greatest strengths.

Gene and Velma had a family of three children. Sharon Joy was born to them in 1951, Stanley Gene in 1953 and Mafra Jane in 1961. The family attended Pennsylvania Mennonite Church, in Zimmerdale. It was during this time that members of this particular church began the relief organization known today as Mennonite Disaster Service, and Gene quickly became involved. Pennsylvania Mennonite Church later became Whitestone Mennonite, Hesston, and Gene maintained a strong connection and involvement in that congregation all his life. In his humble way, he was a soft-spoken leader, a gentle mentor and a wise teacher to many.

Surviving are his wife, Velma, and their three children, Sharon (Carl) Weaver of Hesston, Stanley (Sharon) Swartzendruber, also of Hesston, and Mafra (Rene) Maust of Goshen, Ind. Also surviving are four siblings, Evelyn Troyer of Hesston, Richard Swartzendruber of Valley Center, Larry Swartzendruber of Henderson, Neb., and Virginia Swartzendruber of Hesston. The couple also has seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren surviving. Preceding him in death are two siblings, Wayne ‘Druber’ Swartzendruber and Robert ‘Bob’ Swartzendruber.

A private inurnment service is planned at Eastlawn Cemetery, the former site of Pennsylvania Mennonite Church. Also a Memorial service for the public will be planned at a later date.

Memorial gifts will be directed to Mennonite Disaster Service and may be sent to Miller-Ott Funeral Home, P.O. Box 32, Hesston, KS 67062.