Beryl James Forrester, 80, died March 2, 2021, in Guinea, West Africa. He was born Sept. 12, 1940, to Charles and Kathryn Jantzi Forrester in Lowville, N.Y.
He was a 1958 graduate of Lancaster Mennonite School. From 1959 to 1961 he did alternative service in Morocco through Mennonite Central Committee. He graduated from Arizona State University in 1964 with degrees in English and history and from the University of Denver in 1965 with a master’s of library science.
In 1963, he married Marilyn Dobbin of Woodville, N.Y.
They settled in Garfield County, Colo., where he worked as a library administrator and owned a 100-acre alfalfa and livestock operation. They moved to Salem, Ore., in 1979 so his daughters could attend Western Mennonite High School. There he established Forrester Fruit Farm, a large fruit and hazelnut operation. They attended Western Mennonite Church.
He lived a life of sacrifice, integrity, faith and purpose. When his service term in Morocco concluded, he carried a hope that God would allow him to someday return to West Africa. He did return in 1999, and by the end of 2000 he had established the Mennonite Church of West Africa. In his 22 years in West Africa, he developed churches in The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea. He encouraged church leaders as an apostolic father through Eastern Mennonite Missions of West Africa.
His work included building schools, founding churches, planting orange orchards, digging wells and establishing community gardens. He taught and preached radical discipleship of Jesus. He developed curricula that were translated along with parts of the New Testament into the native language.
He built a small bungalow home in Senegal to serve as his home base. When he had been in Guinea for about three weeks, he became ill with dehydration, malaria and a blood infection. He died peacefully and was buried in Guinea.
He was a member of Village Chapel, a Lancaster Mennonite Conference congregation in New Holland, Pa.
Survivors include two daughters, Lois Gearhart of Portland, Ore., and Sarah Forrester of Alsea, Ore.; his former wife, Marilyn Forrester of Salem, Ore.; a brother, Dale Forrester of Florida; two sisters, Anna Mae Weaver of Pennsylvania and Martha Loveland of Ohio; and two grandsons.
A memorial service was held at Groffdale Mennonite Church in Leola, Pa.