Melvin Jacob Loewen, 97, died Sept. 8, 2023, in Goshen, Ind. He was born Dec. 9, 1925, in Steinbach, Man., to Jacob T. and Margaret (Friesen) Loewen.
As a young man he accepted Jesus as his personal Savior and enjoyed a life-long conversation with his Lord and friend.
At age 18 he became foreman of a crew in the family business of moving houses and grain elevators. Prompted by his mother, who had third-grade education, he enrolled at Goshen College in 1946. Two years later he met Elfrieda Regier, a student visiting from Wheaton College, at an ice-cream party. They were engaged while Elfrieda taught high school chemistry and biology and Mel finished college. They were married in 1949.
During the next decade Mel completed a master’s degree in medieval history at the University of Minnesota and taught high school. With their growing family, he and Elfrieda served in Africa under Congo Inland Mission. On their first furlough at the University of Brussels, he completed a Ph.D. in political science.
In the mid-1960s, the family was held hostage for four months in Stanleyville, Congo, where Mel was dean and later president of Congo Protestant University. The following two-and-a-half years in California were a pleasant interlude while Mel was academic dean at Fresno Pacific University.
In 1970, he joined the World Bank, where he held a variety of positions, first in Cote d’Ivoire, ending in Rwanda and in between in Washington, D.C. After retirement in 1990, Mel and Elfrieda traveled extensively with the Mennonite Christian Leadership Foundation to encourage lay men and women of the emerging churches of Africa and Asia.
He is survived by his children, Barbara, Margaret, John, James and Lisa; children-in-law Nancy, Bob, Wendy and Joe; and sister Emmeline.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Elfrieda; son Jacob Gerard; eight grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and brother Wilbert.
Burial was Sept. 20 in Steinbach, joining recently deceased Elfrieda. Memorial contributions can be made at educationcongo.org (see the “Named Fund” option).