OBITUARY: Rosella Ruth Wiens Regier

Harvey County Now

Rosella Ruth Wiens Regier, 88, passed away peacefully on May 31, 2022. She was born Dec. 2, 1933, the 12th of 13 children of Henry W. and Anna Enns Wiens.

Her first years were spent on the family 80-acre farm southeast of Inman. The Depression had taken its toll. But, Rosella grew up in a family where the mantra seemed to go something like this: “Times are hard. Winter is coming. Economize. Scrimp. Save. Work hard. Help each other. And have fun doing it all!”

Rosella graduated from high school at Central Kansas Bible Academy in Hutchinson.  From an early age, she wanted to be a teacher.  She took on her first teaching job at the rural Turkey Creek School near Inman in 1956.  After graduating from Bethel College in North Newton in 1958, her public school teaching took her to classrooms in Indiana and Mississippi, as well as Newton and Walton in Kansas.

In 1957, Rosella married Harold Regier. Together, they spent the ’60s in Gulfport, Miss., in a mission-service assignment working in an African-American setting.  There, she was involved with a variety of ministries, including the role of Summer Bible School superintendent, supervising volunteers who taught as many as 1,000 students in summer sessions.  Other involvements included teaching youth in winter Bible classes, helping create a community library, facilitating a “Fresh Air” program, teaching Head Start and finally teaching public school during the first year of school integration in Mississippi when racial tensions were running high.

While in Mississippi, Rosella became the mother of two children, Steven Douglas in 1965 and Sharon Janelle in 1967. Returning to Newton in 1970, Rosella concentrated on family life, soon balancing this with returning to the classroom. In the Newton system, she taught at Northridge, Suncrest and Walton.

Rosella’s love for teaching and of children led her from the public school classroom to the Christian nurture of children in the church setting. In 1984, she was invited to become the director of Children’s Ministry for the General Conference Mennonite Church.  In this role. Rosella led teacher workshops and provided congregational resources for children’s Christian education across the United States and Canada.

In 1990, the Anabaptist Curriculum Publishing Council invited Rosella to be the executive director of a new children’s curriculum for six Anabaptist denominations.  The project, developing and publishing the new curriculum, “Jubilee:  God’s Good News,” was a two year rotation of Biblical studies designed for four levels:  early childhood, primary, middlers and Junior youth.  The curriculum was used 1994-2006, a long life for Sunday School curricula.

Retiring in 1999, Rosella continued her Christian education career as a presenter and workshop leader for the national body of the Church of the Brethren, based in Elgin, Ill.  For three more years, she traveled to congregations and districts across the United States with sermons, workshops and seminars on the general theme of the care and Christian nurture of children.

In retirement, Rosella stayed very active in a local church and community leadership. Church leadership included such roles as church moderator, chair of the 50th anniversary celebrations planning committee for Faith Mennonite Church, president of mission circle and member of church council.  At the district level, she served as a member of the Western District Conference “Vision 2012” steering committee and prayer partner coordinator. For more than 10 years, she served as a facilitator of a sexual abuse women’s support group.  In 2009, she was selected as one of three Newton women honored as “Woman of the Year.”

A significant role during retirement years has also been that of a grandmother.  Rosella nurtured a relationship with grandchildren that was reminiscent of her life’s career of nurturing children in both public school and church settings.  Her grandchildren in her retirement years were her pride and joy.

In 2009, Rosella suffered a devastating stroke that left her with acute aphasia. Robbed of words to communicate her thoughts, she painted some 250 pictures to tell her stories. Then, with stories cast into an “aphasia-friendly reading” format, she was able to articulate a few words to participate in a co-reader technique that enabled her to tell some of her own stories. This gave her much satisfaction, making it possible for a pre-stroke storyteller to be a post-stroke storyteller.

Rosella was preceded in death by her parents, H.W. and Anna Enns Wiens, and her siblings Nick, Leonard, Simon, Adolph, Eva (Ruben Wedel), Mary (Bill Goossen), Esther (Walt Juhnke), Anna Grace Wiens and four siblings who died in infancy.

Survivors include her husband, Harold, son Steve (Marilyn), daughter Sharon and grandchildren Madeline Regier, Drake Regier and Claire Schultz.

Memorial service was at 4 p.m., Saturday, June 4, at Faith Mennonite Church in Newton. Private family interment will take place at a later date.

Memorials can be made to “Spring Forth,” a Sunday School curriculum, or Kidron Bethel Village. Contributions can be mailed to Faith Mennonite Church, 2100 N. Anderson Ave., Newton, Kan., 67114. Petersen Family Funeral Home in Newton is in charge of arrangements.

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