Mary E. Herr


Mary E. Herr, 94, died April 19, 2023, in Hesston, Kan.

She was born July 22, 1928, in Plain City, Ohio, to Eli and Ida Kaufman Yutzy. She married H. Eugene (Gene) Herr on May 21, 1955, in Kingview, Pa.  She was preceded in death by her husband and brothers Earl Yutzy and Vernon Yutzy of Plain City.

She attended primary and high school in Plain City and graduated in 1949 with an associate degree and 1953 with a bachelor’s degree from Goshen College.

She had a wonderfully diverse life and career that touched many people. From 1949 to 1951 she taught at a one-room school in Plain City. In 1953 she moved to Chicago, meeting Gene while serving in Mennonite Voluntary Service. After raising three children, she returned to teaching in Harper, Kan., and Middlebury, Ind., from the late 1960s to mid-1970s. From 1978 to 1982 she and Gene developed and co-directed the Phoenix Discipleship and Service program sponsored by Mennonite Board of Missions. From 1982 to 1985 she served as director of service ministries for MBM. On Sept. 10, 1989, she was ordained for spiritual retreat ministry by the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference.

From 1985 to 2001, she and Gene established The Hermitage Retreat Center in Three Rivers, Mich., where their vision and dreams came together as a place for spiritual retreat. After retiring, they spent five months in Belfast, Northern Ireland, working at the Columbanus Community of Reconciliation. 

In many roles and settings, Mary served and mentored others. She was a loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, wonderful friend and gracious hostess who opened her home to countless visitors from throughout the world, enriching her family and forming lifelong relationships.

She is survived by children Phillip (Magda) Herr of Olney, Md., Karl (Mary Lynne) Herr of Bayfield, Colo., and Ellen (Darryl) Awe of Wichita, Kan.; six granddaughters and five great-grandsons.

A memorial service was scheduled April 28 at Hesston Mennonite Church.

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