Omar Elias Eby, 85, a resident of Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community in Harrisonburg, Va., died Jan. 4, 2021. He was born Dec. 21, 1935, to Noah Reuben and Catherine Martin Eby in Hagerstown, Md.
A graduate of Lancaster Mennonite High School and Eastern Mennonite College, he held graduate degrees in journalism from Syracuse University and creative writing from the University of Virginia. Aside from three years writing for Mennonite Central Committee in Akron, Pa., he spent most of his life teaching writing and literature and was a friend and mentor to many aspiring authors. He taught at LMHS; in Mogadishu, Somalia; Musoma, Tanzania; Kitwe, Zambia; and for 27 years at EMC before retiring to pursue his own writing. He published many essays, articles and poems, as well as 13 books of fiction, biography and personal experience. Along with his writing, his skills as a speaker and ability to address with humor and compassion what others might choose to avoid were also greatly valued.
On Aug. 25, 1962, he married Anna Kathryn Shenk, who preceded him in death on March 31, 2016. They shared a lifetime partnership of love and friendship, supporting one another as teachers and enjoying their shared interests of books, writing, politics, travel, East Africa, family and their many friends. They were known for their generosity and welcoming home.
Survivors include three children, Katrina (Michael) Yoder of New York City, Maria (Brent) Lahman of Greeley, Colo., and Omar Lawrence Eby of Weyers Cave; a sister, Ada Showalter of Hagerstown, Md.; and six grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Anna Kathryn; and three siblings, Edwin Eby, Glenn Eby and Lydia Diller.