GOSHEN — I was born on Clover Leaf Farm about four miles east of Goshen, to Jesse E. and Emma (Zook) Smucker, on Sept. 23, 1912. My Smucker roots go back to Christian and Catherine (Hesster) Schmucker, who migrated to America in 1752.
My father, Jesse E. Smucker, married Emma Zook in 1910, having lost his first wife, Anna Yoder, by death. I was born to this union. So I had five siblings at the time of my birth: Edith (Joe Whipstock), Paul (Florence Elliot), Silas (Esther Meck), Ruth (Ora Yoder) and Anna (William Ropp). All of these have predeceased me. As I grew up with these, my brothers and sisters, I sensed no barrier. They loved me as a baby sister and I most innocently basked in their love. After mealtimes I would hesitate in deciding on whose lap I should sit for fear of offending those to whom I would be denying this privilege!
I graduated from the Academy Department of Goshen College in 1930. Several years later I took a year’s Bible course at the college level. Since my father was not sure that girls needed to have a college education, I spent several years after high school doing what a number of my friends were engaged in — I hired out to do housework for affluent families in Goshen.
From my earliest childhood, I liked my Sunday-school mate, Paton Yoder. In the years of our youth, we’d exchange smiles every Sunday at church. I guess he liked me too! But it was only as we entered our 20s that he became interested in me enough to date me steadily and with marriage in view. Although delayed by the Depression, we were finally able to marry in 1936.
To our union were born our five children, Devon (married to Marcia Schrock), James (Phyllis King), Susan (Reid Stempel), Ken (Ferne Kilmer) and Kathy (Ed Martin). All of these, our children, were gracious caregivers to us as we came to need such. I leave behind 13 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
Almost two years after my marriage, I became a mother and spent most of the years thereafter being a mother, a grandmother and now, even a great-grandmother. I could have enjoyed no other calling as much as this call to motherhood. In the course of those years as a mother of five young children, I also provided child care to perhaps a dozen children while my own children were in school.
I loved sewing from the time I was a teenager and also enjoyed cooking and hosting family and friends. My other involvements included working as a secretary for Pastor Peter Wiebe at Hesston Mennonite Church, working for Hesston College as a switchboard operator, volunteering at Oaklawn for many years and helping with Meals-on-Wheels.
I accepted Christ as my Savior at 13 years of age and have been most comfortable in that relationship throughout my life. Paton and I grew up in the local Clinton Frame (Indiana) congregation. We were also members successively at Calvary Mennonite (California), Howard-Miami Mennonite (Indiana), Hesston Mennonite (Kansas), Canton First Mennonite (Ohio) and finally, College Mennonite here in Goshen.
After Paton’s 40 years of teaching, we retired in Goshen, Indiana. We had full and rich retirement years together which included our own hobbies, wonderful times with family and helping with the care of older siblings. We were the youngest sibling in each of our respective families. As such we tried to be good caregivers to our aging, older siblings, or helpers to their primary caregivers as they needed such and as we were capable of giving.
Hazel died Wednesday, April 3 at the age of 100. When Paton died in August 2008, they had been married for 72 years. Since January 2008, both Paton and Hazel, and then just Hazel, were cared for by daughter and son-in-law, Susan and Reid Stempel in their home in Goshen.
A time of visitation for friends and family is scheduled to take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at College Mennonite Church, Goshen. A memorial service will take place at the church Saturday at 4 p.m. followed by a fellowship meal.
Yoder-Culp Funeral Home in Goshen is assisting the family with Hazel’s funeral arrangements.
Online condolences may be shared at www.yoderculpfuneralhome.com.