Lois Shank Gerber, 80, died June 28, 2023, at home in Lititz, Pa., five weeks after a diagnosis of glioblastoma.
Born and raised on the family farm in Spring City, Pa., she was the fifth of eight children of the late Norman and Irene (Souder) Bechtel. She graduated from Christopher Dock High School in 1961 and Eastern Mennonite University in 1966.
After college, she taught home economics in West Virginia and Delaware. She married Henry Shank in 1967. He and Lois helped to found Fellowship of Hope, an intentional house church community, in Elkhart, Ind.
Lois and Henry were delighted with the births of Kristin, Karl and Michael. The young family moved to Kidron, Ohio, for Henry’s teaching career, which ended a few years later when he became disabled. He and Lois became co-supervisors for Choice Books Ohio, which Lois continued after Henry died in 1983. In midlife, she got her master’s degree and felt like she had come home in a new career as a mental health counselor. She married Lowell Gerber in 1997, and from Ohio they moved to Lititz. With empathetic listening skills, she developed many meaningful relationships in each congregation where Lowell worked as pastor. She was a member of Blossom Hill Mennonite Church in Lancaster.
A committed follower of Jesus, Lois pursued service opportunities and passionately advocated for issues including women in leadership, climate change, migrant justice, food security and refugee resettlement. Lois enjoyed good books, good food and good music. She loved tending her vegetable and flower gardens, bird watching, puzzles, exploring genealogy and traveling with Lowell. She especially loved trips to her favorite beach at Cape May with their two beloved grandchildren, Adrian and Micah. She cherished her sisters’ gatherings and valued connecting with her large extended family. She was preceded in death by her first husband, Henry M. Shank; brothers Harold and Wilmer Bechtel; and sisters Geraldine Stiedle, Lorraine Sayre and Dorothea Ray.
She is survived by her husband, Lowell K. Gerber; children Kristin Shank Zehr (Kirk), Karl Shank and Michael Shank; two grandchildren; sisters Eleanor Fuhrman and Doris K. Schmehl; and brother-in-law Keith Gerber.
Memorial donations may be made to Mennonite Central Committee.