LAGRANGE — The Rev. J. Paul Lauver, 90, died peacefully at Miller’s Merry Manor in LaGrange around 7:35 p.m. Thursday, going home to be with his Heavenly Father.
He was born Jan. 12, 1923 in Carlos Casares, Argentina, son of missionaries William and Florence (Beiler) Lauver.
On Oct. 14, 1945, he married Lois M. Swihart. They would have celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary this year. Lois survives in LaGrange.
Surviving in addition to his wife are his children, Paul (Marilyn) Lauver of Wolcottville, John (Patti) Lauver of Columbia, S.C., David (Pam) Lauver of Jupiter, Fla., Maggie Glaser of Carmel; and daughter-in-law, Jan Lauver of Shipshewana.
He was preceded in death by his son, James E. Lauver, and his daughter, Ann (Lauver) McMahon.
Also surviving are his grandchildren, Joel Lauver of Nashville, Tenn., Lindsay Lauver (Nathan Warrick) of Bloomington, Reed Lauver of Charleston, S.C., Amy Lauver of Columbia, S.C., Jessie (Mike) Whitten of Zionsville, Jenny Lauver of Shipshewana, Jacob Paul Lauver of Gainesville, Fla., Weston (Cayleigh) Lauver of Crystal River, Fla., Kira Lauver of Jupiter, Fla., and Alex Glaser of Carmel.
He is also survived by his sister, Mary Lou (Lester) Blank of Gap, Pa.
He was preceded in death by his sister, Lois Lauver, and his brothers, Glen Lauver and Elton Lauver.
He grew up in Argentina until the age of 15, when he returned to the U.S. to attend high school in Johnstown, Pa. He attended Eastern Mennonite College, and then graduated from Goshen College in 1945 with a degree in theology. He later completed a master’s degree in Spanish from St. Francis University, Fort Wayne. While studying for his theology degree, he began his lifelong calling to the gospel ministry spending many weekends serving Spanish churches in Archbold, Ohio, and Chicago.
He was ordained as a minister with the Mennonite Church Nov. 4, 1945 in Belleville, Pa. Then he and his wife served as the first missionaries in Puerto Rico under the Mennonite Board of Missions for 12 years from 1945 to 1957. He served as pastor at the Mennonite Church in La Plata and Rabanal. He also was a church planter, starting churches in Pulguillas, Cayey and Guavate. During his years in Puerto Rico, he also was an announcer for the “Luz y Verdad” (Light & Truth) radio ministry, and sang in a men’s quartet on the radio broadcast.
In 1957, he and Lois and their four young children returned to the U.S. to care for Lois’ mother, Mary E. Swihart. Paul was soon called to be the pastor of the Marion Mennonite Church in Howe, where he then served as pastor for more than 27 years from 1957 until his retirement from formal ministry in 1985. In addition to his pastoral duties, he taught Spanish and English at East Springfield, Shipshewana, and Westview High School, and also worked as a custodian at Howe Military School after retirement from teaching and the ministry.
He lived a life of love and steadfast faith, for God, his wife and family and for Christ’s church. He was known as a prayer warrior and liked to walk in nature while he prayed and meditated on scriptures on 3-by-5 cards. His strong voice gave praise and glory to God through songs, prayer, preaching and teaching.
Visitation will take place Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. at Frurip-May Funeral Home, LaGrange.
Funeral services will begin at 10 a.m. Monday at Shore Mennonite Church, 7235 W. 100 North, Shipshewana, with the Revs. Ron and Char Roth officiating.
Burial will follow in Brighton Cemetery, rural Howe.
Memorial contributions may be made to Marion Mennonite Church, Building Fund.
Condolences may be left for the family at www.fruripmayfuneralhome.com.