Orlando J. Fast, 93, died Jan. 20, 2019, at Kidron Bethel Village in North Newton.
He was born Sept. 17, 1925 in Goessel, KS to Peter B. and Helena (Balzer) Fast. He was the eighth of nine children. His paternal grandparents were Isaac Fast (b. Aug. 10, 1859, Lichtfelde, South Russia, now Ukraine) and Susanna Wedel (b. Aug. 25, 1850, Alexanderwohl, South Russia). His maternal grandparents were Peter Baltzer (b. Sept. 9, 1842, Alexanderwohl, South Russia) and Maria Schmidt, (b. Jan 20, 1846, Alexanderwohl, South Russia). All of Orlando’s grandparents immigrated between 1874 and 1879 to the Goessel area. Orlando grew up on his family farm west and south of Goessel that his father built, on land that his grandfather Isaac had settled.
Orlando attended Gordon grade school and Goessel high school. After his 8th grade year, he remodeled the kitchen of his family’s house. He was enterprising, and upgraded the milking operation on their farm to be able to sell milk commercially. He took mechanical drawing classes and built beautiful woodworking projects in High School, graduating in 1943. After high school he helped on the family farm and then starting in 1947, he worked for a carpenter, and was a keen observer of how things were built. He did framing and sheetrock work as well as finish carpentry and cabinet-making. Later in his life he was more known for his house painting and interior wood-finishing work. All of these building skills allowed him to add two rooms onto the farmhouse for his own family and to renovate the entire rest of their house.
In 1947, Orlando met Maxine Ruth on a blind date arranged by Alice Dirks (who was dating and eventually married Orlando’s brother Irvin). On the way to Hutchinson to see a circus, a wheel came off of Orlando’s car. The broken-down car had to be towed to a farmer’s yard and Orlando’s father was called from Goessel to come to the rescue. The foursome was escorted home together with Orlando’s sister who had come along for the ride. This was an unforgettable experience for all because there were not enough seats in the car for everyone and Maxine had to sit on Orlando’s lap for the trip home.
Maxine and Orlando were married on March 20, 1949, and after living in Goessel for one year, they moved to Maxine’s family farm near Moundridge. They became members of the West Zion Mennonite Church, Moundridge In 1954. Their family grew to include four children: Barbara, Arlen, Russell, and Galen.
As a couple, Orlando and Maxine enjoyed traveling, especially to visit their children wherever they lived. They also participated in various voluntary service programs.
In 1992, Orlando and Maxine made the decision to leave the farm and move to North Newton, where they joined the Bethel College Mennonite Church. In 1999, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. In 2011 they moved to Kidron Bethel in North Newton. At the time of Maxine’s death in 2017, they had been married 68 years.
Orlando enjoyed singing throughout his life, and sang for many years with the 500 Mennonite Men’s Chorus. He served his community in many ways, including being on the board of directors of Memorial Home, Pine Village in Moundridge, helping do finish work on a number of houses built for MCC’s House Against Hunger Program, and various MDS and voluntary service terms in South America, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Kansas. He was also a Deacon at Bethel College Mennonite Church, delivered Meals on Wheels, volunteered at Sunset Elementary school’s reading program. One of the legacies he leaves to his children and grandchildren are all of the fine woodworking pieces, quilts, and needlepoint items he made for them over the past decades.
Orlando was preceded in death by his wife, Maxine in 2017, his sisters Linda, Adina, and Elda, and his brothers Anton, Arnold, Marvin (at age 10), and Irvin.
Survivors include his sister Ruth Reather, of Tulsa, OK, his daughter Barbara of Norman, OK; son Arlen and his wife Anne Ediger of Teaneck, NJ; son Russell and his wife Irma of Dickinson, ND; son Galen and his wife Cindy of Wichita, KS. He is also survived by five grandchildren: Elise, Jonathan, Renee, Evan and Sarah Fast.
Burial will be at the Goessel Mennonite Church cemetery at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 25, and a memorial service will follow at 11:00 a.m. at Bethel College Mennonite Church in North Newton with Pastors Dawn Yoder Harms and Susan Wheeler presiding. Visitation will be from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Petersen Funeral Home in Newton with the family receiving friends from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home.
Memorials are suggested to Bethel College Mennonite Church or Mennonite Missions Network in care of Petersen Funeral Home.