Paul Arthur Leatherman, 92, Ten Thousand Villages director, MCC volunteer coordinator, Booksavers manager

By on May 11, 2016

Paul Arthur Leatherman, of Lititz, died peacefully in his sleep on May 4, 2016, at age 92.

He was born Feb. 2, 1924, in Doylestown, to Arthur and Barbara (Nyce) Leatherman.

After high school, he graduated in two and a half years from Goshen College, in Goshen, Ind.

Paul married Loretta Springer on Dec. 11, 1945. Together they served with Mennonite Central Committee in Puerto Rico for two years. Paul and Loretta were married for more than 37 years, until Loretta’s passing March 20, 1983 at the age of 57. Paul found love again, and on July 4, 1984, married Becci (Martin) who survives.

Paul’s career started in his brother Warren’s Shoe Store in Ephrata, transitioning to a salesman for Miller Hess Shoes in Akron, and then in the mid-60s, following God’s call once again, Paul, with his family, served with Mennonite Central Committee in Vietnam for two years, where he led Vietnam Christian Service. Upon returning to the states, he became the North America volunteer coordinator for MCC in Akron.

In 1977 he became the full-time director of Self Help Crafts in Ephrata, now known as Ten Thousand Villages. With numerous trips around the world to purchase goods, he built strong partnerships with many artisans around the globe. In 1992, Paul and Becci volunteered a year of service in Bangladesh. Into his 80s he led tours to India. In 2003 he began a new career as the manager of Booksavers in Ephrata working there until 2006 and continued volunteering there through 2014.

Paul engaged in a number of challenging projects in his retirement years. He was general contractor for the renovation of Wenger Gristmill in Ephrata. He was the development officer of Tabor Services for a year. He and Becci volunteered with the SOOP program in Arizona one season. For six years, he was a partner in Olde Country Connections, a business that promoted a trade market for Amish handicrafts. In their retirement years, Paul and Becci enjoyed visiting a number of exciting and educational places through the auspices of Grand Circle Travel.

Paul’s life was defined by his faith in God, and church was central to his life. He was involved in two churches, as a founding member of the Akron Mennonite Church and Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster, holding lay leadership positions in both. He served on the boards of Mennonite General Assembly, Mennonite Mutual Aid, and Tabor Community Services. Paul was also very passionate about social and justice issues and helped to start a War Tax Resistance Movement.

Paul’s great delight was going on fishing trips with friends and family. For many years the family spent a week at Long Beach Island in New Jersey.

Paul is survived by a son: Don A. Leatherman (Dania) of Knoxville, Tenn.; two daughters: Suzy Beachy (Ray) of Jackson, N.J.; and Karen DeLawter of Westfield, Ind. He is also survived by a stepson: Thomas Martin (Jane) of San Diego, Calif.; and two step-daughters: Kristina Groome (Todd) and Marina Schofield (Robert) of Annapolis, Md.; 10 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. He will be deeply missed by his entire family, but his legacy will live on and be celebrated for generations to come.

Services will be held in the West Bethany Chapel at Landis Homes, 1001 E. Oregon Road, Lititz, on Saturday, May 14, with the visitation starting at 9 a.m. and the service at 10 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Mennonite Central Committee, 21 S. 12th St., Akron, PA 17501, or donate.mcc.org/cart/checkout.

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