Luke A. Birky

Luke Amon Birky, 100, of Goshen, Ind., died Sept. 3, 2022. He was born Jan. 8, 1922, to Joseph Alvin and Sarah Alma (Kenagy) Birky in Airlie, Ore.


He was drafted as a conscientious objector in 1943 and worked in Civilian Public Service camps in LaPine, Ore., and Belton, Mont. Discharged in May 1946, he entered Goshen College in the fall.

He married Verna Conrad on March 2, 1947, and they began a Mennonite Central Committee assignment at a hospital in LaPlata, Puerto Rico. He served in maintenance, and Verna worked as a registered nurse. He became business office manager in 1949. In 1953 he returned to the U.S. to raise funds for a new Mennonite hospital in Aibonito, Puerto Rico. After that, Mennonite Board of Missions asked him and Verna to move to La Junta, Colo., to study healthcare administration at the Mennonite hospital. In 1955 a new hospital was completed in Rocky Ford, Colo., and he became administrator. Three years later he became the administrator of the La Junta Hospital, where he served until 1966.

He and Verna moved to Elkhart in 1966, when he became secretary of health and welfare for MBM. He consulted with communities operating hospitals, care facilities and retirement communities. In 1975, Mennonite Home of Albany, Ore., asked him to be the administrator. He and Verna served in Albany until retiring in 1987. In a year before full retirement, they worked for Goshen College as program directors for students studying in Costa Rica. Returning to Oregon, he served as moderator for Pacific Coast Mennonite Conference until 1993, when they moved to Goshen. They became residents of Greencroft Retirement Community in 1999. Verna died in 2017.

Even at age 100, he continued to use a computer, read theological books, discuss moral actions, walk fast and love God.

Survivors include four children, Karl (Ginny) Birky of Newberg, Ore., Anne Birky of Goshen, Kate (Tim Welsh) Birky of Payson, Ariz., and Rachel (Steve) Hamilton of Lake Elsinore, Calif.; a daughter-in-law, Therese of Saverne, France; a brother, Wilbur of Goshen; four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 70 years, Verna; a son, Steve; a brother, Elden; three sisters, Minerva, Ruth and Lela; and a great-grandchild.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 15 at College Mennonite Church in Goshen, livestreamed at

Sign up to our newsletter for important updates and news!