Bearinger, Edwin W. (1921-2013)

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Edwin Weber “Eddie” Bearinger: businessman, church and community leader, was born 10 February 1921 in Elmira, Ontario, Canada to Noah (19 July 1891-11 May 1970) and Annie (Weber) Bearinger (10 October 1895-31 July 1955). He had one older sister. On 21 April 1948 he and Elizabeth (Betty) Smith of Markham, Ontario were married in her home by Bishop Abraham Smith, an uncle of the bride. They were married almost 65 years and had three daughters. Eddie died on 11 January 2013. The funeral was held at Elmira Mennonite Church with the sermon given by Eddie’s grandson. Interment was in the adjoining church cemetery.

Few Mennonites in Eddie's era attended school beyond eighth grade but he graduated from Elmira District Secondary School. He then worked for N. M. Bearinger Ltd., his father’s Elmira lumber business. In 1949 the operation was sold to Beaver Lumber. Eddie remained as manager until 1957. For a few years he worked with Peter Bechtel Advanced Farming. Then he joined C. L. Martin, a Mennonite-owned construction business in Floradale, Ontario. He stayed there until his retirement in 1986.

During World War II Eddie entered the Alternative Service Program, begun by his father, Noah Bearinger, and other Ontario Mennonite leaders. As a conscientious objector, Eddie did his service planting trees, building bridges, and fighting forest fires from an alternative service work camp on Vancouver Island. He recalled these months as among the happiest of his life.

Bearinger served on Elmira’s town council for 10 years and unsuccessfully campaigned for mayor of the town. When his opponent’s car broke down during the campaign, Eddie offered his own car to carry the banners of the man who was elected as mayor.

Eddie Bearinger was involved in the leadership of the Canadian Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) for many years, beginning in 1961. He visited every Canadian province, organized meetings with congregational representatives and divided responsibilities among districts. Eddie provided leadership for disaster relief from the Canadian region of MDS for 25 years. He called it “the man in the pew” program, referring to ordinary people coming together to volunteer. His stories about his experiences were voluminous and told in his habitual humorous manner. Each project had its own challenges--during a major flood in Cambridge, Ontario, the mayor of the city was seen sitting in one wheelbarrow and Eddie in another, together mapping out strategy.

The volunteers who built the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) building at 50 Kent Avenue, Kitchener, Ontario in 1963 were organized by Eddie. At the opening of the new MCC Ontario building, an MCC symbol medallion from the front of the 1963 building was presented to Eddie.

In 1965 Eddie was a member of the committee for the first Elmira Maple Syrup Festival which eventually grew into the largest single day maple syrup festival in the world. Fluent in the Pennsylvania German dialect, Eddie was an active member of the Pennsylvania Folklore Society of Ontario.

Eddie Bearinger, a man of intellect and business savvy with a call to serve, was renowned for his sense of humor and wonderful story telling skills.


Bearinger, Elizabeth. Personal Files. Elmira, Ontario.

Gingrich, Del E. “Celebrating Seniors.” Elmira Mennonite Church Library. 2006.

Hill, Valerie. “Lifelong Dedication to Helping Others.” Waterloo Region Record (January 2013).

“Edwin W. (Eddie) Bearinger.” Waterloo Region Record (12 January 2013).

Author(s) Del Gingrich
Date Published May 2015

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MLA style

Gingrich, Del. "Bearinger, Edwin W. (1921-2013)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2015. Web. 26 Feb 2024.,_Edwin_W._(1921-2013)&oldid=141850.

APA style

Gingrich, Del. (May 2015). Bearinger, Edwin W. (1921-2013). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 February 2024, from,_Edwin_W._(1921-2013)&oldid=141850.

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