Lois Bartel, 84, died peacefully on Feb. 26, 2022, with family at her side, after living at Kidron Bethel in North Newton, Kansas, since 2007. Lois Agatha Franz was born to Julius A. and Agatha Dyck Franz on Dec. 26, 1937. She joined two brothers and four sisters.
Lois embraced her Mennonite heritage. She was privileged to have her maternal grandparents from Marienburg, West Prussia, live with the family until she was five.
As a teen she was baptized and became a member of Menno Mennonite Church in Ritzville, Washington. Lois graduated from Lind High School in 1955 and headed 1800 miles east to Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas. She met Gladwin Bartel at a Bethel College Mennonite Church social in which students were grouped according to their birth month. She and Gladwin were married in 1957 and then spent two years in Mennonite Central Committee Voluntary Service at Boys’ Village in Smithville, Ohio, as an alternative to military service. She found her stride as a teacher on the Village grounds for boys who needed guidance because of delinquency.
After serving in Ohio, they returned to Bethel College where Lois earned degrees in Elementary Education and Social Sciences. After graduation she taught two years in Halstead, Kansas. Lois and Gladwin’s first son, Baron Craig, was born in Newton in 1962. They moved to Wisconsin for graduate studies, where their second son, Kelvin Franz, was born in 1964. The family of four moved to Spokane and then Pullman, Washington, where she earned an MA in Sociology at Washington State University. The family then moved to La Junta, Colorado, in 1970. Lois taught English and Social Studies for twenty-two years in the La Junta Junior High and Middle Schools. As a family they enjoyed camping and visiting the farm where Lois grew up.
Lois walked with God throughout her life, striving to fulfill Christ’s teaching – taught by her parents – that “to have is to owe,” from Luke 12:48. She served on the Mennonite Central Committee Central States Board, was active in Emmanuel Mennonite Church, provided publicity for the Colorado MCC sale, volunteered at the Crossroads thrift and Ten Thousand Villages store, was a long-time member of the American Association of University Women, and served on the Mennonite church’s publishing committee.
The work of the wider church was important to her, although health issues kept her from volunteering for more causes. In addition to writing a book and numerous articles for church publications, she took over publishing the quarterly Franz Family Focus which reflected the closeness of her large extended family. After retirement she and Gladwin took numerous bus tours in the US and Canada. Touring Alaska with church friends was a highlight of their travels.
Grandparenting was a joy of her life. Each son gave them two! Gladwin and Lois moved to Kansas in 2007 to be close to their sons and families and joined the Shalom Mennonite Church community in Newton. It gave her great joy to be able to contribute to worthy causes, including the St. Matthews Payee Program, youth programming, MCC, and activities of Mennonite Church USA.
Lois was preceded in death by her husband Gladwin (October 14, 2018), parents Julius and Agatha Franz; siblings Leonard, Henry (Dorothy), Marie (Elmer Ewert), Viola (Ralph Boese), Clara (Walt Reimer) and Judy (Craig Dorsing). Survivors include two sons Barry and his wife Brenda of Golden, Colorado, and Kelvin and his wife Lisa of Newton, Kansas; four grandchildren and three great grandchildren — Jordan, his wife Kaitlin and son Mason of Hillsboro, Oregon; Leah Schwarz, her husband Gregory and daughter Nora and son Milo of Lenexa, Kansas; Shaye of McPherson, Kansas; Aubrey of Kansas City, Kansas; sister Lucille (Les Harms) of Leavenworth, Washington; brother-in-law Craig Dorsing of Moses Lake, Washington, sixteen Franz nieces and nephews, and their offspring; one sister-in-law Rosalie Neufeld, her husband Robert, and two nephews, all of North Newton.
A memorial service will be at Shalom Mennonite Church, Newton, when family from four states are able to gather.
Memorial gifts may be made in memory of Lois Bartel to Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), 121 E. 30th St., N. Newton, Kansas 67117.