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profiles in giving

John and Bonnie Sauder: a moving donation

Every year, a Lancaster, Pa., area business couple makes a moving donation to Eastern Mennonite University— literally.

John D. (C 72) and Bonnie H. (C 72) Sauder provide a late model vehicle for the EMU president to use for his numerous off-campus trips on behalf of the university.

John Sauder is president of Sauder Auto Company, which has two locations, the original established in 1924 by his father, Carl S. Sauder in New Holland, Pa., and a second outlet started in 2001 in Ephrata, Pa. The companies specialize in General Motors products.

The Sauder Family
The Sauder family, pictured left to right, John Patrick (C 05), John Sauder (C 72), Jacquelyn, Candi Sauder (C 96) King, Megan, and Bonita Heishman (C 72) Sauder.

According to John, the practice of making a car available started during Myron S. Augsburger’s tenure as president in the 1970s, was dropped for awhile, then resumed in the late 1980s during Joseph L. Lapp’s presidency and continues to the present.

The Sauders are unassuming about their gesture, noting that “it’s something we can provide to fill a need, and we’re happy to do it as a service to the university.”

“The generosity of the Sauder family over the years is much appreciated,” said EMU President Loren Swartzendruber. “My travel schedule has me ‘on the road’ several weekends each month for donor contacts and preaching appointments. With Sauders providing a car to the president’s office the expense to EMU is significantly reduced.”

The couple has supported the university in other ways, including hosting potential donors in their home during the campaign for the University Commons building, being involved in an advancement division-sponsored “road rally” and giving to capital improvement projects on campus.

Two of the Sauder’s children are also involved in automotive sales. Their oldest daughter, Candace (Candi) Sauder King, a 1996 EMU graduate, is assistant general manager of the Sauder’s New Holland company. Son John Patrick Sauder (C 05) is interning at Joe Bowman Chevrolet in Harrisonburg.

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Bonnie’s grandfather, Abram G. Heishman, was involved in helping to start the former Eastern Mennonite School, taught there and served as a board member and chair of the board of trustees, 1914-48. A Heishman Memorial Garden, a tribute to the family and their contributions to the growth of the school, is located on the hill west of the Campus Center.

“Our parents were strong proponents of Christian education,” Bonnie said, “and it’s rubbed off on us.”

—Jim Bishop (C 67)