OBITUARY: Theodore James ‘Jim’ Goering

Theodore James “Jim” Goering of North Newton passed away peacefully at home on April 13, 2022, at Kidron Bethel Retirement Village, at the age of 86 years, 11 months, with several members of his loving family at his bedside.

Jim was born to Peter J. and Frieda (Goering) Goering on May 3, 1935, as one of five children (the other four: Josephine Jane, Homer Dale, Helen Louise, Vernon Dean), at the farm home near Pretty Prairie.

He came to Christian faith under the tutelage of the Rev. P.P. Tschetter at the First Mennonite Church near Pretty Prairie, graduated from Pretty Prairie High School in 1953, spent two years at Bethel College, and earned a B.S. from Kansas State University (1957) and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Michigan State University (1961). He married Shirley Ann (Suderman) at Trinity Mennonite Church near Hillsboro on May 31, 1957. They became parents of six children: Todd Douglas (died at birth), Terri Lynn (Ingram) of Greenwood Village, Colo., Timothy James of Santa Fe, N.M., Thomas Jay of Carol Stream, Ill., Susan Peng (Leahy) of Falls Church, Va., and Trevor Santhi of Wilmington, Del. At the time of Jim’s death, he and his loving wife and best friend, Shirley, had been happily married for just under 65 years.

Jim’s graduate training in international economics took him, Shirley and family to places of employment and service in several locations around the world. They included Jim serving as assistant professor, University of California, Berkeley (1962-63); administrator, US Peace Corps, Guatemala (1963-65); staff economist, Executive Office of the U.S. President (1965-66); agricultural policy advisor, Harvard University Development Advisory Service, Governments of Malaysia (1966-70) and Ethiopia (1971-74); senior agricultural economist, World Bank, Washington, D.C. (1974-85); senior operations officer, World Bank Resident Mission, Beijing, China (1985-89); World Bank Resident Representative, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (1989-92); division chief, World Bank, Washington, D.C. (1992-95); and, director, international programs, World Vision Relief and Development, Washington, D.C. (1995-99). Following retirement in 1999, Jim and Shirley returned to their “roots” in North Newton, Kan., where Jim played active roles in the Men’s Ministry at Grace Community Church, the work of the North Newton Community Foundation; and as a “low-level politician” on the North Newton City Council, a position he held for 20 years. In that role, he showed particular support of community environmental issues—a robust tree planting program, reduced use of plastics, expanded use of energy-efficient light bulbs, a move toward emission-free electric vehicles, and robust support for a North Newton Solar Panel Project that reduced monthly electricity costs for the city by more than 50 percent.

During retirement, Jim and Shirley spent portions of 17 summers in East Asia teaching English under the auspices of a Christian organization, the English Language Institute. This included 13 summers in China, two in Laos and two in Mongolia.

Much of Jim’s professional work was focused on problems of global poverty and income inequality, within the operational context of an active commitment to Christian principles. In his international interactions with different ethnicities and cultures, a Bible verse which he considered as his “north star” was I Peter 3:15 b, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”

In 2019, a book authored by Jim, entitled “Prairie Breezes—Odyssey from Pretty Prairie,” was published by Christian Faith Publishing Co. This 792-page narrative is essentially a Goering family biography that spans some 82 years (1935-2017). It features Jim’s remarkable career beginning with his humble roots on a farm near Pretty Prairie, Kan., through halls of influence and power in Washington, D.C.; Beijing, China; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Guatemala City, Guatemala; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Pyongyang, North Korea; and elsewhere, always driven by the consummate desire to honor the gentle exhortation of the father in Jim’s youth to “…leave this world a better place than when you arrived.”

Jim is survived by his wife, Shirley; daughter, Terri, and son-in-law, David Ingram; son, Timothy, and daughter-in-law, Darlene; son, Thomas, and daughter-in-law, Suzanne; daughter, Susan, and son-in-law, Mike Leahy; and son, Trevor. Also surviving are eight grandchildren (Michelle, Abby, Tyler; Philip and Peter Ingram; Sara Erickson; Tess Eklund; and Michael Leahy V) and three great-grandchildren, Nolan and Zoe Eklund and Marcus Goering. One grandson, Christopher, preceded him in death.

Visitation will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 10, at Grace Community Church. The service to celebrate Jim’s life will take place at 10:45 a.m. Saturday, June 11, at Grace Community Church, 1600 S. Anderson Road, Newton.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Grace Community Church, Kidron Bethel Village or North Newton Community Foundation. Contributions may be sent to the funeral home.

Jim’s mortal remains have been cremated, and ashes will be interred at his gravesite in the First Mennonite Church Cemetery near Pretty Prairie.

Arrangements are by Broadway Colonial Funeral Home, 120 E. Broadway, Newton, KS. 67114.


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