Lydia H. Stutzman
Editor’s Note: Mennonite Village is celebrating its 75th year of service in 2022. Opening on July 27, 1947, Mennonite Village has grown from a retirement home serving 24 residents to a full continuing care retirement community with more than 600 residents and close to 400 staff.
Although the official opening for Mennonite Village was in 1947, the dream began a few years earlier.
It was 1942. World War II was raging in Europe and the Pacific. War bonds were introduced, and car manufacturers turned their efforts into making materials to support the war effort. The national average wage was just under $1,900 and a new home cost $3,770.
In the mid-Willamette Valley a lady named Lydia Hostetler Stutzman was living in Harrisburg. She was widowed and getting along in years and was concerned about who would care for her when she became less able to care for herself. She did not have any children, so she turned to her nephew, Frank Kropf, for advice. Frank was a hard-working gentleman with a servant’s heart, and he knew there were others in the same predicament as Lydia.
On the advice of her nephew, Lydia designated her estate to be used for building a home where Mennonites could serve and care for their elders.
Frank was a retired farmer who built Mennonite missions in the wilderness of Ontario, Canada, along with Mennonite churches around the U.S. and retirement homes and rescue missions for homeless men.
With his toolbox in hand, Frank would drive from one building site to another. He was known for saying “I’m not carpenter, but when you don’t charge for your work, you are never out of a job.”
Frank and his brother Levi were named administrators of Lydia’s estate, and they decided to assign the proceeds from the entire estate towards a retirement home for aging Mennonites.
Next up: The work begins
Interesting to learn this history. Thanks, Craig.