Lillian Rita (Oswald) Bair

Lillian Rita (Oswald) Bair

Lillian Rita (Oswald) Bair, 96, of Elkhart, Ind., died Dec. 24, 2023. She was born June 22, 1927, in Burghill, Ohio, to the late Walter and Nora (Hershberger) Oswald. She was baptized into the Christian faith as a young girl. On June 8, 1948, she married her high school sweetheart, Ray Bair.

She graduated from Goshen College and studied at Associated (now Anabaptist) Mennonite Biblical Seminary. She enjoyed studying Scripture and was blessed in leading Bible study groups and classes and turning Scripture into songs and prayers.

She participated in church responsibilities at Belmont Mennonite Church, Elkhart, Ind., where her husband pastored, serving three years as co-pastor with him. For about 15 years she worked with an ecumenical group of women at Mother’s Club, providing transportation, prayer team support and Bible studies. She worked alongside Ray with Youth Stewards, a program he created for city youth.

For 10 years she and Ray volunteered with the Mennonite Board of Congregational Ministries as co-secretaries of stewardship, traveling across North America leading financial planning seminars. Receiving hospitality at many Mennonite churches, conferences and camps was a highlight of her life.

She was dearly loved by her family and friends, who enjoyed her kindness, her laughter, her flowers and her homemade pickles.

In addition to her husband, she leaves behind four children, Dan (Peggy) of Forest City, N.C., Becky (Rocko) Smucker of Asheville, N.C., Joy (Ron) Martin of Apex, N.C., and Jim (Maggie) of Elkhart; seven grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and a sister, Ann (Lowell) Schrock of New Carlisle, Ind. She was preceded in death by brothers James and Evan Oswald and grandson Seth Bachtel.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Jan. 27 at Belmont Mennonite Church in Elkhart, with Feb. 3 as an alternate date in case of extreme weather.

Memorial donations may be made to Mennonite Mission Network, Mennonite Central Committee or the Belmont Church Love Fund.

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