Obituary: Robert M. Schrag

Robert M. Schrag, 81, editor of Mennonite Weekly Review for 27 years during a half-century career with the newspaper, died Jan. 26, 2016, at his home in Newton.

Robert Schrag
Robert Schrag

From 1960 to 2011, he served in various roles with MWR, an independent national publication now called Mennonite World Review. He brought a love of history, the Bible, journalism and the printer?s craft to managing a nonprofit company and editing a weekly newspaper. He considered MWR a ministry to build unity among Mennonites and to promote the Christian faith in the Anabaptist tradition.

He was MWR?s assistant editor, 1960-1969; editor, 1969-1996; manager of Herald Publishing Co., 1974-1996; and publisher of MWR Inc., 1996-2011.

Born April 12, 1934, in Newton, to Menno and Gertrude Schrag, Robert attended elementary and junior high school in Newton and Hesston Academy, graduating in 1952. As a teenager, he learned to set type in the MWR print shop.

He was a 1958 graduate of Bethel College, where he worked on the student newspaper and played varsity baseball. He served from 1954 to 1956 in West Germany with Pax, a Mennonite alternative service program for conscientious objectors.

On May 30, 1958, at Alexanderwhol Mennonite Church of Goessel, he married his college sweetheart, Frances Schmidt. They had met at a Bethel chapel service, seated in the same row according to the freshman section?s alphabetical order.

From 1958 to 1960 he studied at Northwestern University?s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill., and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind., before joining the MWR staff.

For three years in the early 1970s he edited Mennonite Life, a quarterly magazine of history and culture.

At MWR he worked for 14 years with his father, Menno, who preceded him as editor; for 23 years with his son, Paul, who succeeded him as editor; and for 21 years with his wife, Frances, who did typesetting and proofreading.

He served on the Bethel College board of directors from 1971 to 1981. Bethel presented him with its Distinguished Service Award in 1990.

He was a member of First Mennonite Church of Newton, serving on the board of deacons and historical committee.

He enjoyed reading, especially history; current events, especially politics; classical music; coin collecting; and baseball, especially the St. Louis Cardinals.

He is survived by his wife, Frances; three children, Paul and his wife, Wendy Funk Schrag, of Newton; Janet Botkin and her husband, Rick, of Lawrence; David and his wife, Tina Huang, of Champaign, Ill.; five grandchildren, Abigail and Rebecca Schrag of Newton and Anja, Liesl and Soren Schrag of Champaign; a sister, Betty Pauls and her husband, Dewayne, of Newton; and a brother, James and his wife, Judy, of Newton.

Visitation with family present will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday at Petersen?s Funeral Home. The graveside service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Greenwood Cemetery. The memorial service will be at 3 p.m. Saturday at First Mennonite Church of Newton.

Memorial gifts are suggested for the MWR Inc. endowment fund and may be sent to Mennonite World Review, P.O. Box 568, Newton, KS 67114.

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