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Harms, Valentine T. (1901-1961) | Mennonite Archival Commons

Name: Harms, Valentine T. (1901-1961)

Historical Note:

Mennonite Weekly Review article/obituary:

Two Kansas Men Die En Route to Hilfs Plan Meeting

Separate funeral services were conducted at the Grace Hill Mennonite Church this week for two Newton area men who died in a Hooker, Okla. motel enroute to last Friday's Mennonite Hilfs-Plan annual meeting at the nearby Adams Mennonite Brethren Church.

The bodies of Val T. Harms, 60, of Route 3, Newton and Arthur Schmidt, 70, of Newton were found in their motel room Friday afternoon. Their companion, 79-year-old Peter Balzer of Route 2, Whitewater, was unconscious and in critical condition.

They had checked into the motel Thursday evening.

The Hilfs-Plan meeting convened Friday morning unaware of what had happened. The tragedy was discovered by Jake Winters, owner of the motel, when he noticed that the Harms auto had not been moved and went to inquire if the men wished to stay another night.

Exact circumstances of the deaths remain unknown.

An autopsy performed on the body of Mr. Harms indicated that death was caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. No inquest is planned. Mr. Balzer regained partial consciousness Monday morning and was brought from a Liberal, Kan. hospital to Bethel Deaconess Hospital on Tuesday.

Mr. Harms and Mr. Schmidt were both associated with the Hilfs-Plan as representatives for the Grace Hill Church. Mr. Balzer had accompanied them on the trip to look after land interests in Oklahoma.

Services for Mr. Schmidt were conducted Monday afternoon, Rev. Herbert Miller and Rev. J. J. Voth officiating. He is survived by his widow, Ruth; one son, Olin Wayne of Newton; one daughter, Mrs. Merril Harms of Whitewater; and two granddaughters.

Rev. Miller and Rev. H. B. Schmidt were to officiate at services for Mr. Harms on Wednesday afternoon. He leaves his widow, Elsie; one son, Edgar, serving in Haiti; and two daughters, Mrs. Leland Unruh of Atchison, Kan. and Esther, a student at Bethel College.



Valentine T. Harms, son of Henry H. and Elizabeth Klaassen Harms, was born Aug. 23, 1901 in Pleasant Twp., Harvey Co., Kan. He died Nov. 17, 1961, at Hooker, Okla., at the age of 60 years, two months, and 24 days. His parents and two sisters preceded him in death.

He attended Bethel Academy, graduating in 1922. He attended catechetical instruction under Elder G. N. Harms, by whom he was baptized and received into membership of the Grace Hill Mennonite Church, June 8, 1919.

On Oct. 24, 1928, he was married to Elsie L. Schmidt at the Grace Hill Church by Bro. G. N. Harms.

Early in life he chose farming as a vocation for he loved the soil and God's great out-of-doors. For the past 12 years he had been an agent for the Mennonite Hilfs-Plan, in which work he was involved at the time of his death.

He was interested in all phases of community service, serving in responsible positions with the local school board, the farm extension organization, and farm co-operatives, as well as promoting the 4-H club. For many years he taught Sunday school and served on the church board of the Grace Hill Church.

Surviving are his wife Elsie; his children, Joan, Mrs. Leland Unruh and her husband of Atchison, Kan., Edgar and Esther Jane of the home; a grandson, Arden Lee Unruh; his stepmother, Mrs. Anna Harms of the Bethesda Home for the Aged, Goessel; and seven brothers, Emil of Hamilton, Ont., Paul of Drake., Theodore of Willington, William of McPherson, Henry of Denver, Colo., and Leonard Isaac of Newton.

He had a deep concern for the spiritual and physical welfare of his home, being interested in providing a Christian education for his children. He was always ready to extend a helping hand and contribute to the needs of others. — The Family.

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