James D. Yoder

James D. Yoder, 93, of North Newton, Kan., died Sept. 22, 2022, at Kidron Bethel Village. He was born Sept. 9, 1929, to Alfred L. and Zella Slayden Yoder at Kansas City, Mo.


Most of his adolescence was spent near Harrisonville, Mo., a story told in his books The Yoder Outsiders and A Boy in a House of Shadows. He attributes his early Christian education largely to the Mennonite Bible schools he attended each summer. He became a member of Sycamore Grove Mennonite Church, Garden City, Mo., in 1947. 

From 1952 to 1955, he attended Goshen College and Goshen Biblical Seminary in Indiana, where he completed three degrees. During his senior year, he married Lonabelle C. Jantzi from Adams, N.Y. After graduation from seminary, he was pastor of the Sycamore Grove congregation for four years. 

In 1959, they moved to Kansas City, Mo., where he taught in the Hickman Mills School District. Receiving his master’s degree in counseling from Central Missouri State, he counseled in the secondary schools of Hickman Mills. Following the death of his daughter, Angela, he received a doctorate in counseling psychology at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and was a licensed psychologist at the University Counseling Center and adjunct graduate professor. 

He wrote articles relating the thought of Viktor Frankl. He was invited to present a paper at the First World Congress of Logotherapy, held at the University of San Diego, where he met Frankl. He trained in the Institute of Logotherapy in Berkeley, Calif., receiving certification as a Logotherapy trainer. He founded the Kansas City Chapter of the Institute and served as executive director until his retirement.

In retirement he followed his interest in writing and published 11 historical novels, a book on Logotherapy in counseling and a memoir. Several of his novels won awards. 

Survivors include a son, Michael Lynn (Karen Seibel) Yoder of Lawrence; several cousins, nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Lonabelle Yoder; a daughter, Angela Maria; a baby sister, Zella; a brother, Alfred Yoder Jr.; and a sister-in-law, Irene Yoder.
Memorial services were held at Bethel College Mennonite Church in North Newton. Memorial donations may be directed to Mennonite Central Committee.

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