Verna's Story

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Verna M. Birky died at Greencroft Goshen Health Care Wednesday, Oct. 25.
Verna was the second of nine children born to Orie and Eda (Zehr) Conrad May 28, 1923, and grew up on the family farm near Albany, Oregon. As a youth she became a follower of Christ and was baptized in the Fairview Mennonite Church.
She attended Hesston Mennonite Academy her senior year of high school. She became a registered nurse after three years of study and practiced at the LaJunta Mennonite School of Nursing, LaJunta, Colorado, class of 1946.
She married Luke Birky March 2, 1947. They volunteered for a term of service with Mennonite Central Committee and were assigned to the service program in LaPlata, Puerto Rico, where she practice nursing. They worked there 6½ years. After returning to the U.S., she continued nursing, teaching, mothering in LaJunta, Colorado, Elkhart, Indiana, and Albany, Oregon.
In retirement, she and Luke served one year as co-directors of Goshen College's SST program in Costa Rica. They moved to Goshen in 1993 to be near children and grandchildren.
Always energetic and filled with good will, she enjoyed homemaking, mothering, hosting, nursing, teaching, gardening, sewing, quilting, biking and traveling.
She is survived by her husband, Luke; five children, Karl Ginny) Birky,Anne Birky, Kate (Tim) Birky, Rachel (Steve) Hamilton, Steve (Therese) Birky; four grandchildren, Rosabeth Birky Koehn, Matthew Hamilton, Joe (Amy Epp) Hamilton, Angelique (Simon) Birky-Hartmann; and two great-grandchildren, Naomi Hamilton and Orie Hamilton; sisters, Lucile (Dale) Hochstetler, Lois (Ivan) Kauffman; brothers, Mark (Nancy) Conrad, James (Mary Alice) Conrad; brother-in-law, Lynn Brenneman; and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her brothers, Clarence (Joyce) Conrad, Amos (Mary) Conrad, Reuben Conrad; sister, Mary (Lynn) Brenneman; brother-in-law, Ivan Kauffman; and stillborn grandchild, Deanne Birky Hartmann.
Her chosen life motto, attributed to John Wesley, was, "Do all the good you can ... in all the ways you can ... as long as you ever can ..."
The family will receive friends from 9 a.m. until the 11 a.m. memorial service Saturday, Nov. 4, at College Mennonite Church, Goshen.
It was Verna's expressed wish that her body be donated to Indiana University Medical Center for medical education. Upon cremation of her body, her ashes will be placed in a columbarium at Riverside Cemetery, Albany, Oregon.
Published on October 27, 2017
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