Homer D. Nissley

Homer D. Nissley, 88, of South Bend, Ind., died Jan. 12, 2021, after a brief illness. He was born Dec. 31, 1932, to Sue (Schmucker) and Daniel H. Nissley in Nappanee and lived in South Bend since 1963.


On June 3, 1956, he married Betty Graber in Etna Green.

He grew up in an Amish family and learned how to work hard. As a conscientious objector during the Korean War, he served in 1-W alternative service at an Indianapolis hospital. He attended Goshen College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in education and went on to earn a master’s degree in education from Indiana University.

He spent many years as a teacher in elementary schools. As president of the South Bend teachers union, he worked to bring equity among teachers through affirmative action policies and within schools through desegregation.

He and Betty were early members of Kern Road Mennonite Church, where he served in many leadership and mentoring roles, especially as a witness to peace and justice issues. 

He was a founding member of the Near Northwest Neighborhood organization, committed to promoting neighborhood revitalization and community development. He and Betty served with Mennonite Disaster Service in Louisiana to help with rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. He loved woodworking and donated many handcrafted items for Mennonite Central Committee relief sales. He volunteered many years with Meals on Wheels. 

Survivors include his wife, Betty; three daughters, Rachel S. (Greg) Hansen of Lawrenceville, N.J., Lena M. (Rob Scott) Nissley of Baraboo, Wis., and Kathy (Matt Eberly) Nissley of Madison, Wis.; three sons, James D. Nissley of South Bend, Dwight V. (Mary Ellen Palko) Nissley of Frederick, Md., and Gareth L. (Carolyn M. Martin) Nissley of Indianapolis; three sisters, Ruby Nissley and Miriam (Cleo) Orendorf, both of Nappanee, and Sue Ellen Nissley of Wakarusa; three brothers, Lloyd (Gladys) Nissley and Ira (Reinhilde) Nissley, both of Nappanee, and Dan (Paige) Nissley of Lebanon, Pa.; and 16 grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by a son, Jay H. Nissley; a sister, Treva Yoder; and two brothers, Melvin and Vernon Nissley.

Memorial contributions may be made to MCC Great Lakes Regional Office, Goshen.

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