OBITUARY: Lynn Vern Loucks

Lynn Vern Loucks, son of Vernon and Pearl (Koehn) Loucks, was born in Bethesda Hospital in Goessel on July 5, 1945.

Lynn’s family lived near Canton and attended Spring Valley Mennonite Church until 1952, when they moved to Protection, Kan. Lynn attended first grade at Sunny Hill Grade School south of Canton and grades 2 through 8 in Protection Grade School.   His sixth grade teacher, Irene Keasling, read “The Secret of the Andes” by Ann Nolan Clark in class, which influenced Lynn’s desire to go to South America someday. Lynn graduated from Protection High School in 1963, where he played basketball, ran the one-half mile in track, qualifying for the state meet, and football. Lynn was baptized in the Protection Mennonite Church in 1960. Lynn earned an associate of arts degree at Hesston College with a major in elementary education. He graduated from Bethel College with a B.S. degree in elementary education in 1967, and an M.Ed from Wichita State University in 1991.

Lynn’s teaching career began in Wichita, teaching sixth grade at Linwood Elementary. During his second year at Linwood, he was drafted. He contacted Mennonite Central Committee and joined the Teachers Abroad Program coupled with community development Bolivia SA. He taught for two years in the village of Los Tajibos, a national rural, public school where only Spanish was spoken. He stayed for another term to serve as the director of education, which included supervising MCC teachers, relating to the local Bolivian education office, and scouting for new villages for future MCC volunteers working in education, health, and agriculture. In late 1974, he returned to Newton and taught sixth grade at Santa Fe Middle School. After two years, he left teaching to work in New Creation Fellowship leadership. In 1984, Lynn returned to teaching fourth grade at Lincoln Elementary. In 1992, he went back to sixth grade and seventh at SFMS and taught middle school science and social studies there until his retirement in 2008 from USD 373. After retirement, he taught for two years at Truesdell Middle School in Wichita, followed by 10 years being a paraeducator for special education students at Hesston High School. From 2001 until retirement, he worked with the Kansas State Department of Education, reviewing science test items and serving on an advisory council. He and Karen were science coordinators in USD 373 during this time. Karen and he also were adjunct instructors of elementary science methods since 2005 at Bethel College. Lynn enjoyed all of these experiences and realized how much there is to know and learn in life.

In 1996, he married Karen Unruh, and they settled in North Newton, where they built a house. Karen was teaching in the Newton schools, grades 3, 4, and 5. Along with her commitment to family and teaching, she was a pianist most Sundays and Wednesday evenings. Their summers involved Newton Community Theatre, where all of the family was involved. While Karen was accompanying the musical, Michelle and Aaron were on stage, and Lynn helped backstage constructing sets. He claimed he had the best seat in the house by being backstage. He became a member of Faith Mennonite Church in 1996 and transferred his membership to Bethel College Mennonite Church in 2012.

Lynn enjoyed recent trips abroad. In March 2009, Karen’s son, Aaron, was studying for a semester in Italy as required by his architecture program at K-State. In June 2015, Lynn took Karen to visit South America. They first visited Cuzco and Machu Picchu in Peru and then continued to Santa Cruz and Los Tajibos, Bolivia. In Los Tajibos, Lynn met five of his former students, visited the new school in Los Tajibos, and had a lengthy visit with Baltazar Opimí. Baltazar was the leader of the Tajibos when Lynn was a teacher there. One night Baltazar asked Lynn, “Do you want to hear a caso contable, or an oral traditional story?” Lynn said, “Yes.” From him, Lynn learned some of his stories that he recorded on paper and that Lynn has told in schools or other venues. In recent years, Lynn realized that these stories are no longer being told. He felt like a Keeper of Chiquitano oral traditional stories. This was an honor and a burden. While visiting Los Tajibos, Lynn learned from the current superintendent of the school that there is no record of the early school during the time Lynn was teaching there. Being the “Gringo Teacher,” Lynn copied some photos of the early school while he taught there with historical information about it to send to him.

Lynn’s family purchased a gas station in Protection in 1965. Since he was going to college, living in Bolivia or Newton, he realized that a history of “Loucks Service” needed to be recorded. He did that with help from his brother, Orlin, who partnered with Lynn’s dad in the business for 30 years.

Lynn was preceded in death by his parents; a son, Samuel Lynn, in 1979; and two step-grandchildren, Tarson and Braxton, in 2012.

He is survived by his wife, Karen; his son, Fred and Erin Loucks of Houston, Texas; his daughter, Angela and Sean Alexander of Australia; a step-daughter, Michelle (Dyck) and Dan Ackland of St. George, Kan.; a step-son, Aaron and Katie Dyck of Manhattan; a sister, Marlene Vargas of Chicago; a brother, Orlin and Dora Loucks, of Great Bend, Kan.; and seven wonderful grandchildren, Harper, Griffin, and Finn Loucks, Isobel Alexander, Caden and Laken Ackland, William and James Dyck.

His favorite Bible verse: Micah 6:8b:

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

The 23rd Psalm has always been important to him, as well.

His favorite songs: “When peace like a river,” “It is well with my soul,” “To God be the Glory”

We will not have a funeral at this time due to the rising cases of coronavirus. A time of remembrance and celebration of Lynn’s life may be planned sometime in the future.