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Obituaries » Alice Ruth Ramseyer

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Alice Ruth Ramseyer

September 27, 1929 - November 5, 2018

Burial Date: November 9, 2018

Services will be held at 11:00 a.m., Friday, November 9, 2018 at the First Mennonite Church, 101 S. Jackson Street, Bluffton. Visitation will be from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., Thursday at Chiles-Laman Funeral & Cremation Services, Bluffton. Interment will be at Maple Grove Cemetery, Bluffton. A light meal for all will be served at the church following the service.

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Bluffton
Alice Ruth Pannabecker Ramseyer died Monday, November 5, 2018. She was born in Kai Chow, China on September 27, 1929 to Mennonite missionaries S. F. “Floyd” and Sylvia (Tschantz) Pannabecker. She joined two brothers in the family, Dick Pannabecker (long-time Bluffton resident) and Robert Pannabecker. The Floyd family served on the Kai Chow mission compound with the family of Floyd’s identical twin Lloyd.
Other than a brief stint in the U.S. when the Depression threatened mission board finances, Alice Ruth and her family spent the 1930s in war-torn north China. Marauding armies swept back and forth through the area, and the children evacuated to Hong Kong or the mountains when the armies got too near. Throughout the decade, however, Floyd and Lloyd continued to serve the school, the hospital, and the network of churches they pastored. The families left China only in 1941 when — as Alice Ruth recalled it — they could no longer count on an American flag to keep the Japanese planes from bombing the mission compound.
The Floyd and Sylvia Pannabecker family lived briefly in Bluffton 1941, and Alice Ruth enrolled in the Bluffton schools. When her parents moved on to Chicago to serve with the new Mennonite Biblical Seminary, she chose to board with a Bluffton family and attend Bluffton High School. Sometime after that decision, she interviewed one Bob Ramseyer for a school newspaper article. She claimed she thought him a bit arrogant for being a year ahead of her in school, and never showed her children the article that came of the interview. But whatever the prose in the article, they began a life-long love affair that ended only when Bob passed away in 2016.
After Bluffton College and the Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Alice Ruth and Bob sailed for Japan in 1954 — now with Mark born earlier that year. After language training in Kobe, they moved to their first General Conference Mennonite Missions assignment in the southern city of Miyazaki. Joy arrived in 1956, Sue in 1959, and Jeannie in 1963. Alice Ruth and Bob served as missionaries in Miyazaki until 1972. They moved to the Mennonite seminary in Elkhart, where Bob taught until 1978, and then returned to Japan — this time to Hiroshima. From 1982 to 1987 they again served at the seminary, and then returned to Hiroshima until they retired in 1995.
As a missionary in Miyazaki and Hiroshima, Alice Ruth was as out-going as her husband was shy. She invited friends and neighbors to her home, she studied flower-arranging and taught English and Bible classes. She cautioned her children against the anti-social antics they might otherwise have pursued. She worked enthusiastically for the Hiroshima World Friendship Center, and encouraged survivors of the atomic bomb. She and Bob translated books and articles by the survivors into English.
“Carefree” would be an exaggeration of the way Alice Ruth enjoyed her decades with Bob in Bluffton. But once her children hit age 40, as she later explained it, she decided that she could quit worrying about them. She could enjoy her friends in the Bluffton First Mennonite Church. She could correspond with her lifelong friends in Japan. And she could bask in her flock of grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She and Bob prayed for each one by name every morning. She covered her bedroom walls with their photographs. She visited them, chatted with them on the phone and swapped text messages with them nearly every day.
Alice Ruth is survived by children Mark (Norma Wyse) Ramseyer of Lexington, Massachusetts, Joy (John) Betts of Bryan, Ohio, Sue Ramseyer of Bloomington, Indiana and Jeannie (Tom) Stenson of Quakertown, Pennsylvania; by grandchildren Jenny Ramseyer, Geoff Ramseyer, Rachel (Nikhil Krishnan) Betts, Sarah (Charles) VonSeggern, Jacob Betts, Tim Konicek, Elizabeth Konicek, Matthew Konicek, Brian (Jenn) Stenson, Kristy Stenson, and Randy Stenson; and by a great granddaughter Olivia VonSeggern. Alice Ruth was preceded in death by husband Bob, grandson David Betts, parents Floyd and Sylvia Pannabecker, brothers Dick and Robert Pannabecker; and a son-in-law Bob Konicek.
Services will be held at 11:00 a.m., Friday, November 9, 2018 at the First Mennonite Church, 101 S. Jackson Street, Bluffton. Visitation will be from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., Thursday at Chiles-Laman Funeral & Cremation Services, Bluffton. Interment will be at Maple Grove Cemetery, Bluffton. A light meal for all will be served at the church following the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Bluffton University or to the Mennonite Mission Network.

 

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