Cover photo for Evelyn Ann Penner's Obituary
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Evelyn Ann Penner

September 11, 1931 — May 8, 2024


Evelyn Ann Penner

Evelyn Ann (Voth) Penner was born to John and Linda (Graber) Voth on September 11, 1931 in Moundridge, Kansas. She was the first of 15 children born in the Voth family.

Along with her siblings, Evelyn lived on the family farm; as a part of the family, each family member had a part to play. Evie’s most-remembered daily responsibilities were milking the cows and peeling and cooking potatoes. In the summertime, she helped her mother with the garden, learning to can and preserve the garden produce. She also learned to embroider and cross stitch tea towels and to sew clothing for her siblings on a treadle sewing machine. When there was a surplus of milk from the cows, she helped make cheese. The days when her siblings were born were especially exciting; her grandmother would come to help with their births since most of Evie’s siblings were born at home. Evie had the privilege of naming her little sister Lois; name suggestions were picked out of a hat, and Evie’s submission was selected! A sad day for her family came when her youngest brother Glen drowned at Pete’s Puddle.

Church played an important role in Evie’s life. After accepting Jesus Christ as her Savior, she was baptized by Rev. P. P. Wedel and joined the First Mennonite Church of Christian in Moundridge.

Evie’s early education began in a one-room school and included Plainview, Meridian, Moundridge Grade School, and then Moundridge Jr. High. She graduated from Moundridge High School in 1949. She went on to attend Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas in the Elementary Education program. During her two years there, she earned her teaching certificate. Evie also spent a summer in MCC voluntary service in London, Ontario, Canada, caring for mentally ill patients. During that summer, she learned a lot and made lifelong friendships. She also attended Goshen College in Indiana to renew her teaching certificate.

Evelyn’s first teaching job was at Plum Grove in rural Whitewater; she had 12 students. Carl and Elise Claassen opened their home to this new single teacher, and Evie had fond memories of her time living with them. She also attended church with them at Emmaus Mennonite Church; it was there that a young man named Walter Penner showed an interest in her. Walter and Evelyn were married on August 25, 1953 and made their home on a farm in rural Whitewater.

After working on the farm for a year, Walter received his draft papers. The couple moved to Kansas City so Walter could spend the next two years of alternative service at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Unfortunately, he contracted polio in Kansas City and became very ill, spending many weeks in the hospital. Thankfully, he recovered, but post-polio symptoms would plague him for the rest of his life. During this time, Evie taught 33 second graders in Emerson Elementary until their first child Kenneth was born. After they moved back to the farm near Whitewater, Carol, Bruce, and Mark joined the family.

Evie spent her years raising her children, tending a huge garden and preserving her produce, cooking, hosting many large family gatherings, and serving at church. She taught children in Sunday School for a while, was in charge of the picture library for many years, and helped with Willing Workers for even more years.

The most memorable trip Walter and Evelyn ever took was to England and Germany. Mark was working in England, and they wanted to see his work. They visited several homes there and enjoyed quintessential English tea with milk and sugar. Mark accompanied them as they traveled on to visit Walter’s relatives in Germany.

When Bruce got married in 1988 and took over the family farm, Evelyn and Walter moved to a nearby farmhouse. They spent the rest of their years in that house. A few months after they celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary, Walter died of pancreatic cancer in 2018. Evelyn chose to stay in the farmhouse; she was grateful that she could continue to drive and garden and live life independently until the day her heart stopped. She went to heaven at the age of 92.

Evelyn was preceded in death by her parents; sisters Alta Johnson and Ruth Kiser; brothers Wilbur, James, and Glen Voth; sister-in-law Sandy Voth; brother-in-law Melvin Johnson; and granddaughter Mikayla Penner. She is survived by sons Kenneth (and Jeanne), Bruce (and Enid) of Whitewater, KS and Mark (and Shabnam) Penner of Central Asia; a daughter Carol (and Carlton) Harris of Eden Prairie, MN; sisters Waneta (and Eugene) Goering of Moundridge, KS and Lois (and Lee) Hunsicker of Telford, PA; brothers Curt of Charleston, WV, Karl (and Luanna) of Hesston, KS, Harry (and Cathy) of Loveland, CO, Myron of Hesston, KS, Larry (and Teresa) of Boyertown, PA, Stan of Hesston, KS, and Verne (and Janet) Voth of Hesston, KS; sisters-in-law Hazel Voth of Moundridge, KS and Barb Voth of Telford, PA; brother-in-law Merle Kiser of Rockingham, VA; 11 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren; Walter’s brothers and sister and spouses; and many other family members. She will be missed by all of us!

There will be a visitation from 6 to 8 PM on Wednesday, May 22 at Emmaus Church in rural Whitewater. Interment will be at 9:30 AM on Thursday, May 23 at the old Emmaus cemetery, followed by the memorial service at 10:30 AM at Emmaus.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial gifts be made to Berean Academy (building fund), or Emmaus Church (for Mark Penner ministry) in care of Lamb Funeral Home, 120 S. Main, Whitewater, KS 67154.


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Past Services


Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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Thursday, May 23, 2024

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Thursday, May 23, 2024

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