Viola Edna Duerksen Ediger was born on August 27, 1922, on the west side of Lake Inman on the Wiens farm (3 mi E & about 1 mi N of Inman), which belonged to her Grandpa, CJ Wiens, because that was the farm that Grandpa Wiens had put his daughter Marie on.
She had 3 sisters, Louise, Elda, and Darlene. At a young age, she felt a calling to be a missionary. Her pastor, J.E. Kaufman, inspired her to be an active participant in church life as a teenager. She attended Bethel College for several years, before leaving to teach school near Inman, and then in Newton. From there, her journey ventured out to California and to Poughkeepsie, NY for voluntary service, and then to Paraguay, South America for two years with the Mennonite Central Committee, where she taught school in German to Mennonite refugees.
While there, her calling to be a missionary was strengthened, and Viola came back to Bethel College with that resolve. It was fortuitous that she met Ferd Ediger, a Canadian, at Bethel, who also had this sense of calling. They were married in 1950 and, after seminary in Chicago, prepared to serve with the Commission on Overseas Missions in Japan. While they were in Chicago, their first son, John, was born.
Then, just as they were preparing to leave for Japan on a freighter, in early January 1953, they received a call from Belfast, Ireland, saying that Viola’s sister, Elda, had been killed in a plane crash there. After several postponements of ship’s departure, the ship was delayed long enough so they were able to be in Inman for Elda’s funeral.
On the voyage to Japan, Viola was pregnant with their second child, Anne Marie, and two years later, a second son, James, was born in Kobe, Japan. After two years of language study in Kobe, they moved to begin church planting in Hyuga, on the southernmost island of Kyushu, which began with a tent evangelistic campaign and much curiosity by the local people.
After several years in Hyuga and a year of furlough in North America, Ferd was invited to assume responsibility for the Mennonite Central Committee Peace Section office in Tokyo, so they packed up and move there.
They served in Japan from 1953 until 1983. Most of those years were spent in church planting, teaching English, doing peace work with MCC, and raising their three children. Of course, Viola, who had already been a teacher, began teaching English at several colleges and universities. She was a stickler for English grammar, a legacy she has passed on to her daughter, Anne.
Viola and Ferd came back to Canada due to health concerns. Ferd pastored a church in Regina, Saskatchewan, until his death in 1988. Viola traveled occasionally back to Kansas as a member of the Mennonite Mission Board, and there, ran into Stan Voth, an old college friend. She and Stan had known each other since Bethel days. In fact, Stan was a roommate of Ferd at Bethel for one year. Stan and Viola were married in 1992 and subsequently celebrated 23 years of marriage.
Viola enjoyed traveling, reading, gardening, and being with people, a legacy which she has passed on to her son, John, except for the gardening part. Over the years, she memorized hymns and enjoyed singing them, a love for music that went back to the time when she sang alto as a sixth grader, and took violin lessons from a lady from Lindsborg, and piano lessons from her cousin, Hilda Enns, a legacy that she has passed on to her son, Jim.
Her mother gave her this verse that has given her strength for many years: “The eyes of the Lord range throughout the entire earth, to strengthen those whose heart is true to him.” II Chronicles 16: 9.
Viola is survived by her husband, Stan Voth, her 5 children, 8 grandchildren, and two great-grand-children.
A memorial service is scheduled for Friday, August 14, 2015 at 4:00 P.M. at the Bethel College Mennonite Church in North Newton. Prior to the service, a visitation will be held from 2:30 tp 3:30 at the church.In lieu of flowers, the Ediger-Voth family requests that gifts in memory of Viola Ediger be sent to: Mennonite Mission Network, 718 N. Main St., Newton, KS 67114. Petersenfamilyfuneralhome.com