Funeral For: Melvin Jacob Loewen
Funeral Date: September 20, 2023
Melvin Jacob Loewen, 97, of Goshen, Indiana passed away Friday, September 8th in Goshen. He is survived by 3 daughters, 2 sons, and their families. He was predeceased by his wife Elfrieda, 1 son, and 1 brother.
The funeral service for Melvin Jacob Loewen will be held Wednesday, September 20th at 11am at Birchwood Funeral Chapel with opportunity to visit with the family starting at 10. Burial will take place at Heritage Cemetery.
In keeping with Melvin’s lifelong interest in Africa and in education, memorial donations may be made to https://educationcongo.org named fund option.
Arrangements by Birchwood Funeral Chapel, Steinbach.
Melvin Jacob Loewen was born December 9, 1925 to Jacob T. and Margaret (Friesen) Loewen. He grew up with an older brother, C. Wilbert, and a younger sister, Emmeline. Mel cherished fond memories of his parents, his many relatives, and his hometown of Steinbach, Manitoba which had been founded in 1874 by a small group of Mennonite families.
Mel followed the lead of his brother and became foreman of a crew at age eighteen in the family business of moving houses, large grain elevators, and heavy machinery. He went to high school and Bible school in the winter months. Mel accepted Jesus as his personal savior as a young man and enjoyed a life-long conversation with his Lord and Friend. His mother, who had finished grade three primary school, had heard of a Mennonite school in Indiana called Goshen College and that’s where he enrolled the fall of 1946. Two years later he met Elfrieda Regier, a student at Wheaton College visiting Goshen friends for the weekend, at an ice-cream party. They were engaged while Elfrieda taught high-school chemistry and biology in Minnesota and Mel finished college. They were married in 1949.
During the next decade Mel completed a master’s degree in medieval history at the U of Minnesota, taught high school and, with their growing family, he and Elfrieda did a first term in Africa under the Congo Inland Mission. They spent their first furlough at the University of Brussels where Mel completed his Ph.D. in political science. In the mid ‘60s the Loewen family was held hostage for four months in Stanleyville, Congo, where Mel was dean and later president of the Congo Protestant University. The two-and-a-half years in California were a pleasant interlude while Mel was academic dean at Fresno Pacific University.
In 1970 Mel was recruited to join the World Bank where he held a variety of operational positions, starting out living in Cote d’Ivoire, ending in Rwanda, with the years in between in Bethesda, Maryland. After retirement in 1990 Elfrieda and Mel traveled extensively with the Mennonite Christian Leadership Foundation to encourage lay men and women of the emerging churches of Africa and Asia.
Mel died September 8, 2023 in Goshen. He is survived by his children, Barbara, Margaret, John, James, and Lisa; by his children-in-law, Nancy, Bob, Wendy, and Joe; and by his sister, Emmeline. His wife, Elfrieda, his son Jacob Gerard, and his brother, Wilbert, predeceased him. In addition, he is survived by his eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
The funeral service will be 11:00 a.m. September 20 in Steinbach, Manitoba; and interment will be in land once owned by Mel and Elfrieda and bought by the city to become Heritage Cemetery on Loewen Blvd. Arrangements are being facilitated by Birchwood Funeral Chapel in Steinbach. In keeping with Mel’s lifelong interest in Africa and in education, memorial contributions can be made at http://www.educationcongo.org. Please see the “Named Fund” option.