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Anna Ruth Kreider Engle

Anna Ruth Kreider was born on July 3, 1915, on the family farm near Campbelltown, Pennsylvania. She must have been in a hurry as she was born before the doctor arrived. She was the youngest in this family of three sons and three daughters.

Five and a half years younger than her next sister, Grace, Anna played alone a lot. She had few modern toys, but loved to create imaginary playmates and their families, and imaginary pets. When her friends from town visited, they would usually play house, or play in the meadow. One of these early friends (from age 7) was Eva Nye Hess, and Anna often walked more than two miles from Campbelltown to Palmyra where Eva lived, to spend Sunday afternoon together.

Anna enjoyed having nieces and nephews living nearby. Brother Ethan's son, Marlin, was 7 years younger than Anna; since Ethan lived in town at the end of the field adjoining the homestead, Anna would often stop there to play after school and her parents would have to call her home.

Anna had a strong desire to play the piano. Although the family did not own a piano, Anna would sit at her father's desk with a book propped in front of her, playing on an imaginary keyboard and hoping for her dream to come true. It did, when her 4th grade teacher apparently noticed her eagerness and gave her piano lessons, allowing her to practice at school. Not too much later, her parents bought her a piano, fearing that Anna would "go mad" if she was not able to pursue her music! Anna also enjoyed visiting her Grandma Nissley in Middletown, and playing Grandma's organ.

Anna attended the Campbelltown Elementary School (grades 1-8), which was a short walk across the field from her home. After this, she traveled daily by trolley to Hershey High School for grades 9-11. While in high school, she sang in the chorus and worked for the school newspaper. In 1929, when she was 14, the family moved from the farm to a new house next to Ethan's in Campbelltown.

The Kreider family attended the Palmyra Brethren in Christ Church, and the worship services rotated between the Palmyra, Hummelstown, Shenk's, and Fairland congregations in Dauphin County. Father's (Bishop Kreider's) work also meant a lot of traveling to other churches, some in Bucks and Franklin Counties.

Anna accepted Christ as a child of 10; Rev. Abner Martin was holding revival meetings at Fairland, and one evening before leaving home, she determined to go to the altar. At age 12 she was baptized by her father in a creek near Cleona, and joined the Brethren in Christ Church. The "Young People's Conferences" she attended were highlights in her life.

Being the daughter of a minister and bishop had its advantages and disadvantages; she remembered her parents leaving the family at home while they traveled to General Conference in Kansas - her older sisters, knowing that she was missing "Mama" teased her until she cried. But there were other times when Anna was included in those trips; in 1926 (at age 11), Anna and her parents, along with brother Herbert and his wife Emma, went to see the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial and stayed overnight at the Philadelphia Mission.

She enrolled at the Messiah Academy in Grantham for her senior year of high school. There she found opportunity to exercise her musical abilities: singing in a Ladies' Quartette and the newly-formed Choral Society. She made lasting friendships with Violet Baldwin Lenhert Malone, Mildred Funk Heisey, and Myrle Light Pyke. She graduated in 1932 at the age of 16, then after a year out of school she returned to Messiah in the fall of 1933 for a year of college studies. Again she sang in a quartette and the Choral Society; however, a new interest began to grow after she was introduced to John Engle by his roommate, LeRoy Walters. That year she also served on the school social committee with John Engle and Avery Heisey. And at Christmas, a Missionary Circle team toured the Canadian churches, with Anna and John in that team of five students.

The next three years Anna worked in the kitchen and canning room at the Hershey Industrial School (now the Milton Hershey School), while John finished his studies and began teaching at the Jabbok Bible School in Thomas, Oklahoma. Their friendship was leading to a lifelong commitment.

At noon on August 10, 1937, John and Anna were married at her parents' home in Campbelltown. Bishop Kreider's voice broke as he led the wedding service - this was his youngest child, and she would be going with her husband to Oklahoma!

The honeymoon was a trip to Philadelphia and the New Jersey shore. However, the car axle broke, so the newlyweds had to delay their honeymoon, Twenty days after the wedding they headed off for a four day drive to their first home in Thomas, Oklahoma; two rooms not adjoining each other in the Jabbok school dormitory. One room became the kitchen where Anna cooked on a coal oil stove. Memories of those two years at Jabbok include dust storms, John's salary of $45 per month (raised to $50 after their marriage), the birth of their first son, John Edward, and washing diapers in gritty water by hand. Anna admitted that she was lonely at times, being far from her family and friends in Pennsylvania.

In 1939, Anna and John resettled in Campbelltown, once again close to their families, where they rented half a house just up the street from Anna's parents. It had no indoor plumbing. John taught college and academy courses at Messiah for two years. When James was born in November 1940, John had to walk two doors down the street to notify the doctor at his home, because they had no telephone. In 1941, the family moved to the small village of Upper Lawn, five miles south of Campbelltown, where they rented a house, this time one with indoor plumbing. John worked for the Pine Tree Dairy in Deodate for two years, then at Mumper's Dairy in Elizabethtown for three years. In July 1942, Marilyn was born at the Hershey Hospital. The family attended church at the nearby Shenk's Church.

John and Anna bought a 40 acre farm on Route 117, near Colebrook (five miles from Campbelltown) in 1945. Following this move they started attending the Palmyra Brethren in Christ Church. Shortly after their move to the farm in September 1945, Joanne was born. In 1946, John took a part-time job teaching German at Messiah College, also working part-time on the farm as well as at the McBeth Religious Arts Studio in Elizabethtown. John attended summer courses in State College in 1948, 1949, and 1951 to work toward a master's degree, which was necessary to keep his position at Messiah. In 1950, John served as an assistant to C.N. Hostetter, Jr. for a 10 week European tour. The summers must have seemed long to Anna, with four young children and John away for these four summers. Eugene was born in December 1950. In 1952, John accepted a full time position in the shipping room at Continental Press in Elizabethtown and gave up his other jobs. This provided a better income for the family, and meant that John was home more. The birth of Richard in 1954 completed the family of six children.

Anna was a faithful member of the Palmyra Brethren in Christ Church. When John was chosen as a deacon, she perfomed the duties of a deacon's wife. She worked in the Sunday School and musical programs, sang in the choir, served as a song leader, and played the piano.

Music remained very significant for Anna during her life. She enjoyed playing the piano and singing. All of the children had the opportunity to take music lessons; John on the piano and organ, Jim on the trumpet, Marilyn on the piano, Joanne on the piano and violin, and Gene and Rich on the piano. It was an interesting situation when some were doing homework and three or four siblings were practicing on their instruments. The children would gather around the piano and sing along, often trying to sing various parts of the Messiah. She continued to use her musical skills in her later years, when she played the piano for residents of the Alzheimer's Center at Messiah Village.

Anna and John always had a large garden, and there was much canning and freezing to be done. Anna was a good cook, and enjoyed making the Pennsylvania Dutch specialty of stuffed pig stomach to the delight of the children. She enjoyed competitive games, especially Scrabble, which she continued to play until a few months before her death.

Visiting children was a high priority for Anna and John. They went to Newfoundland in 1963 for the birth of Jim's oldest son David, to Kentucky to visit John's daughter Jenny in 1965, to Zaire to visit Marilyn when Mark was born in 1974. They also visited Joanne in Brooklyn and Richard in New Mexico. They attended the graduation ceremonies for their children and grandchildren. Anna was a wonderful grandmother, always happy to read stories or play games with her grandchildren. She remembered all of their birthdays and anniversaries, and paid close attention to their activities and accomplishments.

After John retired in 1978, they enjoyed traveling on bus tours. In 1987, the year of their 50th wedding anniversary they went on a 28 day tour which included the Canadian Rockies and Vancouver. They enjoyed family reunions with their children, grandchildren, and later, great-grandchildren at Kenbrook, and they generously paid the cost of these reunions.

Anna and John served as volunteers in the kitchen at Kenbrook, and for many years at Messiah Village. Their volunteer work at Messiah Village began 16 years before they moved there, and continued after that. In 1995 she and John sold their home in Campbelltown and moved to a cottage at Messiah Village.

They had many friends, some of whom they had known since their years at Messiah College. They welcomed visits by children and grandchildren. In 1998, Anna was diagnosed with colon cancer, for which she underwent surgery and chemotherapy. After a period of time, in which she was free of symptoms, the disease spread. She also was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it became clear that she would not live much longer. She accepted this fact with equanimity, and kept her strong faith. After a month in the Hospice unit, she passed away on October 29, 2002 at the age of 87. With her love for music, she must have been pleased to hear her six children and their spouses, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren sing "The Lord's My Shepherd, I'll Not Want" at her funeral. She was buried in the United Christian Cemetery in Campbelltown.

Henry and Katie's Children | Ethan's Children | | John's Children | Herbert's Children | Grace's Children | Anna's Children | Photo Album