Martha “Jo” Ropp

Martha “Jo” Ropp

Martha “Jo” Ropp, 87, died Aug. 15, 2023, at McLean County Nursing Home in Normal, Ill. She was born Nov. 21, 1935, on the family farm near Lima, Ohio, to Marcus E. Emerick and Laverne (Mellinger) Emerick.

She graduated from Bluffton College with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. There she met Ron Ropp of Normal, and they were married on Aug. 26, 1956.

Beginning her teaching career, she taught one year in Lima and two years in Bluffton while still in college. Beginning in 1959, she taught in Elkhart, Ind., for three years while Ron attended seminary. In 1962 they moved to Fresno, Calif., where she assisted Ron in a pastorate and taught in the public schools. In 1968 they moved to Claremont, Calif., where she taught for two years while Ron pursued his doctorate.

In 1970, they returned to Normal, where she taught at Oakdale, Colene Hoose and Northpoint, where she was a Unit 5 Teacher of the Year in 1996-97. Her gift for teaching was called upon by Mennonite churches as she served on conference education committees and consulted with churches in the Midwest on curriculum. She was director of Christian education at the Mennonite Church of Normal in the 1970s. She worked to plan and direct the first major church convention to be held at Illinois State University: the 1989 joint assembly of the Mennonite Church and General Conference Mennonite Church.

She loved children, which was manifested in how they responded to her. She had a gift for working with special needs such as ADHD. It was not unusual for some of her fourth graders to invite her to their high school graduation parties.

She became the historian for the Ropp family tree, collecting information on some 6,000 people. She assisted Ron in his church and healthcare ministries until 2012, when a stroke disabled her but didn’t take away her witty and caring spirit.

Survivors include two sons, Martin Ropp and Jon (Julie Hochstatter) Ropp, all of Normal; a granddaughter; and a sister-in-law, Ramona Emerick. She was preceded in death by three siblings, Carlton Emerick, Roselee Kennedy and Marc Emerick.



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