Lois Lydia Sommer Kreider was born at home Feb. 8, 1924, in Pekin, Ill., and died Jan. 31, 2019, at home in North Newton.
She graduated valedictorian of Pekin High School in 1940 and from Bluffton College in 1945 with a degree in home economics.
She and Robert Kreider married at Bethel Mennonite Church of Pekin on Dec. 30, 1945. She completed a master’s in textiles at Columbia University in 1946, then volunteered with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Pennsylvania, Netherlands, Kiel, Germany and Berlin. In their final year in Europe, she managed the MCC Guest House in Basel, Switzerland.
In 1949, they moved to Chicago and in 1952 to Bluffton, Ohio, where Robert taught at Bluffton College. Lois hosted college groups and visiting guests. She volunteered for Girl Scouts, and for her church, First Mennonite of Bluffton. In the 1960s, Lois began yearly sales of SelfHelp international handcrafts—now Ten Thousand Villages—from Edna Ruth Byler to provide livable wages for women. She led efforts to start a thrift/handcraft store in Bluffton; the Et Cetera Shop opened in 1974 with Lois as manager. In 1976, having moved to Newton, she helped open another Et Cetera Shop, managing it through 1990. She led workshops and edited a newsletter for Ten Thousand Villages stores. She traveled internationally for MCC, visiting artisans.
In retirement, Lois led a recycled rug-weaving project at the Newton Et Cetera shop. She enjoyed music, books, gardening, travel and Scrabble, and delighted in assisting after the births of each grandchild. She was an active member of Faith Mennonite of Newton.
Survivors include brother John Sommer; Ted’s wife Josephine Sommer; children Esther (William) Eash, Joan Kreider, Karen (Stephen) Kreider Yoder, David (Heidi Regier) Kreider and Ruth Kreider; grandchildren Rachel (Peter) Eash-Scott, James (Allison) Eash, Madeline, Greta (Kevin Robinson) and Noah Kreider Carlson, Luke, Isaac and Levi Yoder, Ben (Alli), and Mark Kreider, Matthew, Norah and Johannes Kreider; and great-grandchildren, Daniel and John Eash-Scott.