Areta's Story

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Areta Graber Lehman, 94, Goshen, died Saturday, May 20, at Greencroft Goshen Health Care.
She was born Aug. 21, 1922, in Wayland, Iowa, to Christian L. and Mina (Roth) Graber.
In 1946, she was married to Earl S. Lehman in Goshen by her father, C.L. Graber. Earl died in 1992.
She married Galen Johns in 2010. He died in 2013.
Survivors include a daughter, Esther L. Kawira, Sharati, Tanzania; three sons, Joseph C. (Anna) Lehman, Goshen, Benjamin Lehman, South Bend, and Jonathan (Irene "Reni") Lehman, Goshen; eight grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and two sisters, Lucille (Harold) Swartzendruber, Goshen, and Lois (Byron) Bender, Honolulu.
Along with her parents and both husbands, she was also preceded in death by a son, Samuel E. Lehman; a son-in-law, Josiah Kawira; two sisters, Mildred (Edward) Stoltzfus and Gladys (Clayton) Byler; a brother, Richard Graber; and her brothers-in-law, Harold Swartzentruber and Clayton Byler.
A lifetime area resident, Areta graduated from Goshen High School and from Goshen College in 1944 with a degree in education.
Along with Earl, she served at Mennonite Home Mission in Chicago from 1946 to 1949.
On returning to Goshen, she taught primary school in Wakarusa, junior high art in Goshen and did substitute teaching in the Goshen School System, along with being a full-time homemaker.
Later in life she was a teacher at Clinton Christian Day School, followed by being a Parkside School classroom aide. Her greatest joy was watching children learn.
She was an active member of College Mennonite Church, involved in children's education and the sewing circle for years.
She had a wide variety of interests throughout her life. She played piano and violin. She gardened and preserved food. She was a naturalist and an avid bird watcher who taught local schoolchildren about birds with her nest collection. She enjoyed water color painting and designed and executed beautiful quilts, wall hangings and braided rugs, some as donations to the Mennonite Relief Sale.
While in her 50s, she and her daughter, Esther, biked through Holland and Denmark. Later she traveled multiple times to Tanzania to live with Esther and her family and to home school her grandchildren. She also visited the Marshall Islands when Joe's family lived there.
Areta was a foster parent who hosted, befriended and mentored many foreign students of Goshen College. She also volunteered with the Laubach Adult Literacy program.
Friends may call Saturday, June 3, from 9 to 11 a.m. in the Gathering Room of College Mennonite Church, Goshen, where an 11 a.m. memorial service will be conducted. Pastors Phil Waite and Pamela Yoder will officiate.
Her body was donated to medical science.
Memorial gifts may be directed to SHED Foundation.
Yoder-Culp Funeral Home, Goshen, is assisting the family with local arrangements. Online condolences may be shared at www.yoderculpfuneralhome.com.
Published on May 22, 2017
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