Former EMU Staff Member Marie Leaman Shenk Passes Away

Marie Leaman Shenk
Marie H. Leaman Shenk

A former administrative faculty member at EMU died Sept. 7 at her home in Park Gables of the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community after a long bout with cancer.

Marie H. Leaman Shenk, 72, served as administrative assistant to the academic dean, 1976-1990. She twice served as staff assistant for EMU-sponsored cross-cultural tours to the Middle East alongside her husband, Calvin E. Shenk, professor emeritus of religion, who survives.

"Marie’s gifts in administration included the happy combination of superb organizational skills, a keen interest in people, wisdom and steadiness in the midst of knotty problems, and an ability to balance many things at once – making her job look deceptively easy," said Lee Snyder, former EMU academic dean who worked with Shenk in the dean’s office from 1976-82, and again from 1984-90.

"Marie’s international experience and commitment to the church enriched her service at EMU as she and Calvin organized student cross cultural trips and, on occasion, returned for service stints in the Middle East or East Africa," Dr. Snyder added. "I treasure the memory of Marie’s laughter and enjoyment of life."

A native of Lancaster, Pa., Shenk received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts with a minor in missions from EMU and a master’s in religion degree from Eastern Mennonite Seminary.

Calvin and Marie Shenk began mission work in Ethiopia in 1961 under Eastern Mennonite Missions. Marie taught bookkeeping and typing at The Bible Academy in Nazareth and was also bookkeeper for the school.

After her years at EMU, the Shenks spent eight semesters in Jerusalem at the Tantur Institute. Marie was passionate about the Israel/Palestine issue and sought opportunities to foster peace and justice.

Shenk was a member of Park View Mennonite Church where she participated in the Shalom and Colloquy Sunday school classes.

Surviving, in addition to her spouse, are two sons, Douglas Shenk of Hummelstown, Pa.; Duane Shenk of Harrisonburg; a daughter, Donna Shenk Sensenig of Goshen, Ind.; nine grandchildren; one brother, M. Hershey Leaman, Lititz, Pa.; two sisters, Evelyn Sweigart, Lititz, and Elizabeth Lehman, Harrison Valley, Pa.; and a sister-in-law, Grace Leaman of Lincoln University, Pa.

Funeral services were scheduled for Sept. 12 at Park View Mennonite Church with pastor Phil Kniss officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Eastern Mennonite Missions, Salunga, Pa.; Mennonite Mission Network, Elkhart, Ind.; or Mennonite Central Committee, Akron, Pa.