Anna Anien Lehman, 69, of Goshen, Ind., died Nov. 27, 2020. She was born July 31, 1951, on Namu Atoll, Marshall Islands, to Atlan and Risa Shem Anien.
She had an idyllic childhood, with her father giving her the rich oral tradition, and her boundless curiosity about the larger world. She created her own destiny by declining an arranged marriage so that she could continue her high school education while living at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam. She then worked one year with her father’s office in the Parliament of the Islands before enrolling at Goshen College in 1970, where she received a degree in political science. She married Joe Lehman on Sept. 9, 1972, at College Mennonite Church, Goshen.
While raising their two children, she worked for the national government, including as director of social services. She worked one year with her childhood friend, Ambassador Elizabeth Kabua, in the Tokyo Embassy. She traveled to Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Palau and Israel. Through the years, she and Joe traveled domestically and internationally.
She was respected as a leader of her generation, in an ancient matriarchal society, so that despite all of her years living in Goshen, her spirit never left the Marshall Islands and its customs and traditions.
Survivors include her husband, Joseph, of Goshen; a son, Christian (Krista) Lehman of Raleigh, N.C.; a daughter, Fern (Mark) Stege of Majuro, Marshall Islands; two sisters, Hazel (David) Bruce and Rilan Anien, both of Honolulu; and four grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by a sister, Grace.
A memorial service will be planned for next year in Majuro to also honor her father, who was brought to study at Goshen College in 1952 by Joe’s uncle, linguist Byron Bender, who was a special friend of the islanders, having made a dictionary of English-Marshallese.
In keeping with her wishes, cremation took place at Yoder-Culp Crematory.