John Wesley Gaeddert, 96, of North Newton, Kan., died Nov. 12, 2020, at Kidron Bethel Village. He was born Feb. 7, 1924, to Peter R. and Lena (Janzen) Gaeddert in Nowata County, Okla.
He was baptized in Hoffnungsau Mennonite Church in rural Inman, Kan. A graduate of Bethel College with a degree in music education, he later obtained degrees from Mennonite Biblical Seminary and Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary. During World War II he was drafted as a conscientious objector and served in California. He married Mary L. Voran on June 1, 1951, at Bethany Mennonite Church in Kingman County, Kan.
After teaching music for three years at Lehigh and Hillsboro, he felt called to ministry and moved his family to Chicago and then Elkhart, Ind., to attend seminary. He pastored Bethesda Mennonite Church, Henderson, Neb.; Tabor Mennonite Church, rural Newton; and First Mennonite Church, Halstead. He often directed the church choir. Interspersed with these pastorates were administrative positions: three years as country director for Mennonite Central Committee in Congo; director of admissions for Bethel College; and executive secretary of education for the Commission on Education of the General Conference Mennonite Church.
In retirement he produced hundreds of sculptures, many from his favorite medium, bristlecone pine. In 2016, Bethel College hosted a retrospective of his work.
He was a person of deep faith and longing for justice. He loved a good joke, fishing, tennis and peppering his speech with Low German phrases.
Survivors include his wife, Mary; three children, Susan (Allan) Bartel of North Newton, Dee Gaeddert (Jim) Dorsey of Grant, Minn.; and Russell (Jean Flickinger) Gaeddert of Hutchinson; a sister, Velma Stoesz of Mountain Lake, Minn.; four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by two sisters, Lorene Balzer and Erma Goering; and two brothers, Melvin and Elmer Gaeddert.
A private memorial service and interment is planned. Memorial gifts may be made to Bethel College, MCC or Kidron Bethel Village.