Former Freeman college president dies
FREEMAN, S.D. — John D. Unruh, an educator and church leader who was president of Freeman Junior College and Academy for 15 years, died Nov. 11 at Oakview Terrace Health Facility. He was 102.
Unruh served as president of Freeman Junior College and Academy, a Mennonite-affiliated school, from 1933 to 1948.
Among his many involvements in church and conference work, Unruh was president of the Northern District Conference of the General Conference Mennonite Church for two terms and served for many years on the General Conference Board of Education.
From June 1948 to July 1949, he and his wife, Amalia, lived in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, serving as directors for Mennonite Central Committee in that area.
Unruh was born Dec. 26, 1903, in Turner County. In 1919 he was baptized in Salem Mennonite Church, where he remained a member for 87 years.
He received his education at Freeman Academy in 1922, Yankton College in 1926, the University of South Dakota and the University of Texas, where he earned his doctoral degree. He taught at several high schools before becoming president of Freeman Junior College and Academy.
He served the community of Freeman as a member of the City Council and as mayor.
He married Amalia Tieszen in 1934. She died in 1996. They had a son, John Jr., who died in 1976 while teaching at Bluffton (Ohio) College.
Aftering serving with MCC in the Netherlands, Unruh resumed teaching at Freeman Junior College for eight years then taught at Southern State College at Springfield.
He did research and writing on Anabaptist history. His articles were published in Mennonite Life and other publications. His work also was published in books, including In the Name of Christ, an MCC history; and A Century of Mennonites in Dakota.
He is survived by a daughter-in-law, Elda (Waltner) Unruh; and numerous nieces and nephews.
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