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Schroeder, Susanna Theresa Nickel (1888-1966)

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Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1966 Apr 21 p. 8

Birth date: 1888 Apr 17

text of obituary:


Mrs. P. R. Schroeder was born Susanna Theresa Nickel in Mountain Lake, Minn., on April 17, 1888. She died on Feb. 23, 1966 in Hillsboro, Kan., having reached the age of nearly 78 years. Her parents were Theodor [sic Theodore] and Susanna Janzen Nickel. Their first born, twin sons, died in infancy. Mrs. Schroeder was the eldest of their nine other children.

Her parents were members of the Bethel Mennonite Church where she early resolved to give her life to Jesus Christ. She was privileged to attend the German School and she said of this: "Under the excellent teaching of our pastor, Rev. J. J. Balzer, I really came to life and simply drank in all the wonderful Bible and Church instructions he gave us." She was baptized by him at this time.

She had been deeply impressed at the age of 3 when the P. A. Penners from her home church went to India to open a mission. As the years passed she gradually cam to the conviction that God was calling her to similar work. For this she would need more education and her prayers were answered when she was able to enter Bethel College where her fiance, Peter Schroeder, was already a student. Together they became missionary candidates for India.

They were married on Sept. 1, 1910, and immediately set out for Driscoll, N. D., where they spent the winter as teacher and minster for that pioneer community, living in a sod house. For the summer they served in a similar way at Langham, Sask. These appointments were both under the Home Mission Board and provided a small salary, savings from which would see them through another year at Bethel College. They were the first married couple to attend that college and her husband was a member of the first graduating class the spring of 1912, when she was given a certificate from its Bible course.

Their plans to attend Oberlin Seminary in Ohio that fall in preparation for the ministry in India were changed when the First Mennonite Church of Berne, Ind. asked them to serve as interim and then regular pastor. The decision to serve there was reached after much prayerful soul-searching and they never forgot their first great concern for foreign missions. The 16 years in Berne were marked by fruitful labor, true friendships and growth both spiritual and in the work and size of the church. Their four daughters were born there.

In 1928 they accepted a call to the presidency of Freeman Junior College in South Dakota and two years later to the pastorate of the Salem Mennonite Church near Freeman. In spit of the hardships of depression and drouth, their 12 years at Freeman were also truly blessed both to those they served and to their own family. Again precious friendships were formed. The daughters were able to begin their college work and to teach in rural schools while living at home.

Rev. Schroeder died on April 16, 1941. The Bethel Church of Mountain Lake had called him to its pastorate just before his illness and moved them to the parsonage in the summer of 1940. This home church of old friends and relatives, particularly the L. A. Schroeders and the I. J. Dicks, extended Christian sympathy and support to Mrs. Schroeder through the 25 years of her widowhood.

During this time she was employed as church worker for ten years. Her 65th year was spent working in the Voluntary Service program as cook and housemother for the staff at Kingsview Mental Hospital, Reedley, Calif. She served as a Sunday school and released time teacher, as a General Conference women's work supervisor, relief materials coordinator, visitor, and staunch Christian witness. Her busy hands and creative mind produced many quilts, garments and pieces of needlework. Largely through her work the Nickel genealogy was organized. She was greatly loved as pastor's wife, mother and grandmother. Her children and many others can "rise up and call her blessed."

Her parents, six brothers, two sisters, her husband, Rev. P. R. Schroeder, and third daughter, Louise — the first Mrs. Elbert Koontz — and an infant grandson preceded her in death.

She is survived by her youngest brother and sister, Frank A. Nickel of Fresno and Lyllian, Mrs. Elmer Neufeld of Shafter, Calif.; three daughters, Celeste, Mrs. George Dehnert, Vernelle, Mrs. Orlando Waltner, Esther Ruth, Mrs. Elbert Koontz, and their husbands; eight grandsons, four with wives; one granddaughter; and three great-grandchildren. — The Family.

The Mennonite obituary: 1966 Apr 12 p. 260

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