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EMU Mourns Passing of A. Grace Wenger

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A. Grace Wenger, former Dean of Women at Eastern Mennonite College (now University), member of EMC’s board of trustees, and high school English teacher at Eastern Mennonite High School and Lancaster Mennonite School, died at Landis Homes in Lititz, Penna., on Sept. 5, 2012 at the age of 93.

As her bio in Continuing the Journey: The Geography of Our Faith, (ACRS Memoirs, Volume 2) recounts, “Her teaching career of thirty-nine years ranged from a one-room elementary school” through the two Mennonite high schools “to an associate professorship at Millersville State College (now Millersville University).”

During her years at EMC,1943-56, she inspired many writers, as both a teacher and faculty advisor of Scriblerus, the creative writing society. Her own publications include Frontiers of Faithfulness: The Story of Groffdale Mennonite Church (1992) and the histories of Landis Homes Retirement Community and Eastern Mennonite Missions.

At Millersville State College, Grace developed a program for low-performing English students, for which she received a Certificate of Excellence in Teaching from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and was awarded a Commonwealth Distinguished Chair for 1976-77.

During the summer of 1981, Grace was one of the teachers sent by Goshen College to what is now Northeastern University in Shenyang, China; she retained a special love for that country and its people over the years.

Tabor Community Services has honored Grace as one of their founders. In an effort to address racial discrimination, in 1967 Grace invited a few others to join her in establishing the Menno-Housing Corporation. This organization worked to overcome unfair housing in Lancaster County by renovating buildings that low-income families could then afford to rent. In 1968 the organization expanded into Tabor Community Services, whose work is ongoing.

“Grace, who lived out the meaning of her given name, was a presence of special value wherever she was,” wrote John L. Ruth after Grace’s death. “With humble dignity and intellectual acuity, she enriched all whose lives intersected with hers.”

Grace held a bachelor’s degree from Elizabethtown College and a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She did additional graduate studies at Temple University and the University of Delaware.

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