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Zehr, William Morgan (1909-1993) | Mennonite Archival Commons

Name: Zehr, William Morgan (1909-1993)


Historical Note: Quoted from memorial service program: “William Morgan Zehr was born March 13, 1909, in Wood River, Nebraska, and died at Newton Medical Center, March 7, 1993, 6 days prior to his 84th birthday. He was the son of Moses Zehr and Nellie (Morgan) Zehr from Canada. The family moved to Wellman, Iowa, until 1918, then moved to Oregon where William spent his younger years living on the farm as well as in town. He attended Fairview Church which was in the area of Albany. Other towns that had a bearing on his schooling or his life were Sweet Home, Scio, Lebanon, and Monmouth, Oregon.     Although William only had one brother, Joe, who was five years older, there were many relatives from his father’s side and many friends who stayed close through the years.     When William attended Hesston College in 1930, he met Edith Roupp of Hesston. They were married June 12, 1932. After teaching school in the Moundridge area and finishing school at Bethel College, he accepted a teaching position at Jetmore, Kansas. From there William and Edith went to Oregon to take up a teaching job in Sweet Home. throughout his teaching career William continued his studies and set a goal to obtain his Master’s Degree which was finally accomplished in 1962 at Oregon State College.     William’s interest in audio-visual aids finally led him to set up a business of his own in Portland called Better Films which provided a film rental service focusing on the churches. Through this work and the experience of actually filming movies, William accepted a job with the General Conference to produce films about the work on the various mission fields in the U. S., in Canada, in Japan, and in Taiwan.     October 1950, William and Edith adopted two girls, Carol and Gail Lawson, at the ages of 11 and 10. Carol with her husband, Earl Ewy, lives on a farm near Hesston. Gail chose to return to her former family in 1959 and now resides in Vancouver, Washington.     William, due to failing health, had to face early retirement and he and Edith moved to Kansas in 1969 to be near their daughter Carol and their three grandchildren, Diane (Yoder), Lanita (Bohn), and Craig. Until 1977, William and Edith led a very active life, even spending winters in Texas, and doing some traveling. Then Edith developed acute leukemia and died February 1978.     William started a new chapter in his life in April 1979 when he married Elfrieda Warkentin. They lived together in her home until June 1990, when he was moved to Bethel Home because of his health problems. Another move was necessary in October when Schowalter Villa opened the Special Care unit which offered the specialized care which William would continue to need for his remaining days.     During the past years together, William and Elfrieda enjoyed doing volunteer work together at the hospital and Bethel Home as well as being active in church activities.”



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