Obituary: Robert Unruh

Robert E. ?Bob? Unruh, 86, retired public music teacher, piano tuner/technician and postal employee, died on Thursday, March 31, 2016.

He was born April 11, 1929, in Goessel to Jacob S. and Sara (Friesen) Unruh. He grew up on a farm with his parents and two older siblings, Eskil and Charlene. The family was part of the Tabor Mennonite Church community of rural Newton/Goessel.

Robert Unruh
Robert Unruh

Bob attended Sand Creek Elementary School in Marion County and was a 1947 graduate of Goessel High School. In 1952, he received a bachelor of arts degree in music education from Bethel College in North Newton and in 1956 a master of music education from then Wichita University.

Bob began public school teaching in Lehigh in 1952 following his graduation from Bethel College. He married Helen Ruth Jantzen on June 19, 1953, in the Beatrice Mennonite Church, Beatrice, Neb. Bob and Ruth had met while students at Bethel College. Their first home following marriage was in North Newton. They moved to Lehigh for Bob’s second and third year of teaching. In 1955, a teaching position took them to Kingman, where Bob taught vocal music through 1966. It was in Kingman their son Jon Robert was welcomed into the family.

In 1966, Bob exchanged his role as music teacher for that of a piano tuner/technician and part-time employee of the U.S. Postal Service. After his postal service retirement in 1989, he devoted full time to his piano tuning and repair while living in Kingman and Hutchinson.

In 2006, the Unruhs moved to Kidron Bethel Village in North Newton. In 2013, Bob transitioned to the nursing-care unit because of dementia. The family is thankful for the care he received while there.

Many church and community activities centered around music. Bob directed choirs and sang in local ensembles. He enjoyed traveling and twice fulfilled his dream of going to Europe. His sense of humor often found its way into life?s situations and conversation.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother Eskil Unruh; and sister Charlene and her husband Marion Stoetzl.

Survivors include his wife Helen Ruth; son Jon Unruh; nephew, Alan Stoetzl; and niece Elizabeth (Betsy) Stoetzl, in addition to relatives and friends of both Bob and Ruth.

Visitation with the family will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, April 10, in Menno Hall at Kidron Bethel Village, 3001 Ivy Drive in North Newton.

Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Monday, April 11, at the Bethel College Mennonite Church in North Newton.

Memorial gifts may be made to Bethel College or to the Mennonite Central Committee in care of Bethel College Mennonite Church.

Friends may sign the book and read the obituary online at

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