Grace M. Stauffer97, Erisman Church member, had overseas missionary school

By on March 28, 2012

Grace M. Stauffer, 97, whose life touched many people in several countries, died Thursday, March 22, 2012 at Landis Homes Retirement Community, Lititz.

She remained a wise teacher, loving mother, grandmother and matriarch of her extended family to the very end. She was born Grace Bucher Metzler on a farm in Manheim Nov. 8, 1914, to Harvey and Katie Metzler.

After graduating from Lincoln School in Rapho Township, she attended high school and college at Eastern Mennonite School in Harrisonburg, Va. Following college, she taught school in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She responded to a call from the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions in 1946 to go to Tanganyika, East Africa (now Tanzania) to start a school for missionary children. She opened Hilltop School at Bukiroba, Tanzania, which has continued operating for 66 years at several locations. Now named Rosslyn Academy, it is located in Nairobi, Kenya, serving several hundred students. After teaching for several years, in 1949 she married Elam Stauffer, a pioneer Mennonite, missionary to Tanzania and a bishop in the Tanganyika Mennonite Church. Throughout her life, she remained a member of Erisman Mennonite Church in Manheim. In addition to her roles as wife and mother to their three boys, she helped open the Musoma Bookshop in Musoma, Tanzania, in 1960 and served as its first manager. In 1964, when Elam retired, the family returned to Lancaster County. She remained active in church life, traveling with Elam to various churches and maintaining a warm and supportive home for her family. When Elam died in 1980, she remained the strong supportive center and matriarch for her family. She moved to Landis Homes in 1983 where she lived until her death. In 1984, she was invited to and attended the 50th anniversary of the Tanzanian Mennonite Church in Shirati, Tanzania. She described it as an honor to be invited and found it thrilling to be present at this celebration. During her life, she touched the lives of many people in many roles and in many places. Her life was characterized by humility and service to others. She taught students on several continents ranging from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia to Bukiroba, Tanzania. She and Elam were counselors to many churches. And she meant the world to her immediate and extended family.

Surviving are three sons: Philip E., husband of Velma Denlinger Stauffer, of West Chester; Ken E., husband of Carol Maurer Stauffer, of Toms River, N.J.; Bruce E., husband of Susan Warner Stauffer, of Lancaster; three grandchildren: Craig, Corinne and Kyle Stauffer; and a sister: Edna, wife of Leonard Brunk, of Lititz.

She was preceded in death by three sisters: Esther Martin, Elta Harnish and Anna Shank.

A memorial service will be held at the Landis Homes Retirement Community in the West Bethany Chapel, 1001 East Oregon Road, Lititz, March 31 at 2 p.m. Interment will be private and at the convenience of the family in Erisman Mennonite Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Landis Homes Caring Fund, 1001 East Oregon Road, Lititz, PA 17543 or Hospice of Lancaster County, P.O. Box 4125, Lancaster, PA 17604-4125.

To send the family on-line condolences, visit buchfuneral.com.