Calvin W. Redekop

Calvin Wall (Waldo) Redekop, 96, died July 20, 2022. He was born Sept. 19, 1925, to Jacob and Katherine Redekop in Volt, Mont.


He spent his early years on the farm in Montana, Oregon and Mountain Lake, Minn. He graduated from Goshen College in 1949.

In July 1949 he joined Mennonite Central Committee and spent six months doing peace witness and education in Alberta and Akron, Pa. Then in January 1950 he sailed for Europe and served as PAX program organizer and Mennonite Voluntary Service director until December 1952. In 1953 he returned to the U.S. and spent one semester at Goshen College Seminary, and then studied for a master’s degree at the University of Minnesota. He taught social science courses at Hesston College 1955-1962, with time spent at the University of Chicago pursuing a doctorate in sociology and anthropology, completed in 1959. While in Europe he met Freda Pellman, who was working for Menno Travel Service in Amsterdam, and they were married in 1955.

In 1962 they moved to Richmond, Ind., where he taught at Earlham School of Religion and Earlham College. In 1967 they moved to Goshen, Ind., where he taught at Goshen College as professor of sociology, and at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart. During 1971-72 the family lived in Paraguay while he pursued research on indigenous-Mennonite relations in the Chaco. This was a formative experience for the family, and eventually resulted in the publication of Strangers Become Neighbors: Indigenous and Mennonite Relations in the Paraguayan Chaco (1980).

In 1976 they moved to Hillsboro, Kan., where he served as vice president and dean of Tabor College before heading to Canada, where he spent the final 10 years of his academic career at Conrad Grebel College in Waterloo, Ont., retiring in 1989.

Starting in the 1970s, he and Freda led travel tours, many with an Anabaptist focus, in Europe, Central and South America, and Jamaica. In 1989 they moved to Harrisonburg, Va., where they spent many fine years before Freda died in 2011. There he served as a founding member of the Brethen-Mennonite Heritage Center; a founding member of Anabaptist Center for Religion and Society; an early supporter of Willow Run farm; and a member of Park View Mennonite Church.

During his academic career he was an invited lecturer at numerous Mennonite colleges, and he published many books and articles on Anabaptist/Mennonite topics.

He was involved in numerous ventures and organizations, public and private, business and civic, Mennonite and non-Mennonite. His first major business venture was to join a nascent startup, Excel Industries Inc., a turf equipment company with which he and Freda remained affiliated the rest of their lives. He was a founding member of Sunflower Energy Works, one of the first solar energy companies in Kansas. He was a board member of EnerSource, a Canadian solar energy company; Secure Futures, a Virginia solar company; Wood Composites Inc., a recycled decking company; and Real Associates Inc., a small real estate company. He was instrumental in the formation of the “second MEDA” (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) and served as founding editor of The Marketplace, the publication of MEDA. He and his family created the JustPax Fund and Redekop Family Endowment, charitable organizations devoted to economic, gender and environmental justice.

Survivors include three sons, Bill (Diana), Ben (Fran) and Fred (Ria); a brother, Jacob; two sisters, Ella and Bertha; and a granddaughter.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Freda; a sister, Rosa; and a granddaughter.


Sign up to our newsletter for important updates and news!