Unruh, John D. (1903-2006)

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John D. Unruh: educator and church leader; born 27 December 1903 in Turner County, South Dakota, USA. His parents were Daniel J. Unruh (10 September 1878 – 22 October 1973) and Regina (Gering) Unruh (17 March 1883 – 6 April 1976). John married Amalia Tieszen (13 February 1904, Marion, South Dakota – 6 September 1996) on 14 August 1934 in Marion, South Dakota. Amalia was the daughter of Derk P. Tieszen (1859-1946) and Helena (Deckert) Tieszen (1859-1948). John and Amalia had a son, John Jr. John died on 11 November 2006 at Oakview Terrace Health Facility in Freeman, South Dakota. He was 102.

On 8 June 1919 John 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 for a total of 16 years: 1930-1935, 1936-1938, and 1939-1948.

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. After serving with MCC in the Netherlands, Unruh resumed teaching at Freeman Junior College for eight years, then taught at Southern State College at Springfield.

Unruh served the community of Freeman as a member of the City Council and as mayor.

Unruh 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.


"Former Freeman College President Dies." Mennonite Weekly Review (27 November 2006). Web. 13 September 2013. http://www.mennoworld.org/2006/11/27/former-freeman-college-president-dies/.

GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 7.03 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2013: #405466.

Author(s) Richard D Thiessen
Date Published September 2013

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MLA style

Thiessen, Richard D. "Unruh, John D. (1903-2006)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. September 2013. Web. 25 Jul 2024. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Unruh,_John_D._(1903-2006)&oldid=132474.

APA style

Thiessen, Richard D. (September 2013). Unruh, John D. (1903-2006). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 July 2024, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Unruh,_John_D._(1903-2006)&oldid=132474.

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