Distinguished Service Award: Susan and Stan Godshall

June 12th, 2020

Susan and Stan Godshall, EMU’s Distinguished Service Award recipients, have devoted years of their lives to medical and missions work in the United States and in Africa.

Both Stan and Susan grew up in rural Pennsylvania in families that emphasized service as an expression of Christian faith. The couple met at EMC. They first went to Tanzania in 1978 for a service term with Eastern Mennonite Missions. The couple, with their three children, served at the clinic that would become what is now Shirati KMT Hospital. A Christmas letter home to a friend turned into a fundraiser of $25,000. When the Godshalls left after 15 months, medical services were increased so that Stan – previously the lone doctor on the team – was replaced by four doctors: two Tanzanians and two expatriates.

The majority of Stan’s 40-year medical career was spent in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, at a family health center alongside doctors Kenneth Brubaker and the late R. Clair Weaver ‘66. The trio had established the health center together to allow breaks for mission work; the Godshalls spent five years abroad over three different stints.

In 1996, Susan was chosen as EMM’s representative to Africa, the first woman in that role. She interacted with churches and mission personnel to assist their efforts in church development, education, health work, and leadership training.

In addition to this work, Susan taught Spanish and English language learners and did administrative work at EMM and Mennonite Central Committee. She also chaired the EMU Board of Directors for six years, serving 12 years total. She later was a chaplain at the Philhaven Behavioral Health Hospital.

The couple now live in Harrisonburg, and enjoy interacting with their 10 grandchildren in Harrisonburg and Georgia. They love singing, too; in fact, they met while singing in choir at then Eastern Mennonite College, “and we’ve enjoyed singing together ever since,” Susan says.

Until the outbreak of COVID-19, the Godshalls were still serving their community – Susan at the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, and Stan at the Harrisonburg Free Clinic.

Reflecting back on their lives, Susan says that, when you make a work or service commitment, you don’t always know what you’ll be called on to do. “One of my goals was to be attentive to do what I could do, and look to God and others to provide for what I couldn’t do.”