Long-time Administrative Staff Member Dies

Fern I. Erb, a former long-time administrative staff member at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), died Thursday, May 2, 2013 at age 92. She was a resident of Park Place at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, Harrisonburg, Va.

Erb worked at EMU for 23 years, serving in a variety of administrative roles – secretary of institutional research, 1978-81; administrative assistant in business affairs, 1981-86; dean’s office and development assistant, 1987-88; reaccreditation self-study assistant, 1988-90; and administrative assistant to the vice president of enrollment, 1989-2001.

Fern Erb (Photo by Jim Bishop)

“Fern was a wonderful co-worker, mentor and friend; the epitome of grace and strength, with a delightful sense of humor,” said Twila K. Yoder, assistant to the president at EMU. “She endeared herself to all those she came in contact with both at EMU and in her church community, counting people of all ages among her dearest friends. It was particularly difficult to see Fern in pain and discomfort in recent years.”

Erb was born Feb. 6, 1921 in Newton, Kan., and was the daughter of the late Miles and Mary Reiff Troyer.

On June 6, 1950, she married J. Frederick Erb, who preceded her in death on Jan. 27, 1985. He was associate director of alumni/church/parent relations at EMU from 1978 through 1984. While in the throes of a life-threatening illness, he was awarded an MA degree from Eastern Mennonite Seminary in 1984.

Surviving are three children, Paul Frederick Erb and wife Esther of Tennessee; Mary Erb Nitzsche and husband Wayne of Pennsylvania; Rachel Erb Beckler and husband Richard (EMU ‘79) of Richmond; four sisters, Vera Weaver and husband James of Indiana; Margaret Miller and husband Vernon of Ohio; Rebecca Bixler and husband John of Iowa; Grace Helmuth and Harlan Helmuth of Ohio; a sister-in-law, Melba Troyer of Michigan; seven grandchildren, Erik Frederick Erb and wife Ruslana, Erin Fogler and husband Richard, Alison Nitzsche, Megan Nitzsche, Jonathan Beckler (‘07) and wife Amy, Christa Beckler (‘10), Laura Beckler, a rising senior at EMU, and a great granddaughter, Elliana Erb.

Erb was preceded in death by a brother, Darda Troyer and a sister, Dorothy Miller.

Erb graduated from Goshen (Ind.) College in 1949 with a BA degree in Bible and a minor in business.

She was a member of Community Mennonite Church of Harrisonburg. In 1980, Erb was named to the church’s first four-member pastoral team and served in that role three years.

A memorial service will be held 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 11, 2013 at Community Mennonite Church with lead pastor Jennifer Davis Sensenig officiating. A private burial will precede the service at Weavers Mennonite Church cemetery, Harrisonburg.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Student Aid Fund at Eastern Mennonite University, 1200 Park Road, Harrisonburg, Va. 22802 or to Mennonite Central Committee, PO Box 500, Akron, Pa. 17501-0500.

Online condolences may be made to the family at: www.mcmullenfh.com.