Mary Kathryn (Hartzler) Yoder was born at home in rural Cass County, Missouri on June 27, 1926, the daughter of Clarence Vernon (C.V.) and Nellie Elizabeth Hartzler. She peacefully took the extended hand of Jesus at her home in Harrisonville on November 14, 2021
In 1949 she married Lester Yoder of Garden City, Missouri. Together they lived on the family farm near Garden City and raised two children: Doyle Yoder of Garden City and Reita Yoder of Harrisonville.
Mary Kathryn started teaching in 1943 after just 10 weeks of college preparation. She was 17 years old. While teaching in one room schools she attended summer school and eventually completed her degree in Elementary Education and began teaching in the Harrisonville Public Schools in 1960. In 1973 she graduated with her master’s degree in School Counseling. She was an elementary classroom teacher, counselor, and remedial math teacher. She completed almost 40 years of teaching and retired in 1984. Her kind spirit and gentle manner fostered respect and love in her students’ hearts. In retirement she volunteered in the library at Harrisonville Christian School for over 25 years.
Several years after retirement Mary Kathryn relocated to Harrisonville. Many will remember eating at her table and benefiting from her hospitality. She hosted many over-night guests from all over the U.S. and internationally. She remained in contact with some of those guests through the years. Many found a safe resting place in her home; some for a few days and some for extended periods of time. Her acceptance and unconditional love made her a treasured and respected friend and mentor. Even in her 90’s Mary Kathryn thought of others and their needs, not her own.
Her four grandchildren were a source of joy. She enjoyed reading to them, teaching them about nature and promoting summer camp so they could experience it. Many memories were made at Grandma’s house. There was always a hammock in the yard with games and activities in the basement. The most fun at Grandma’s house was having friends to play with after a shared family meal around the huge dining room table.
Mary Kathryn loved people. She was a busy farmwife, mother, Bible School teacher, 4-H leader, Sunday School teacher, grandma, and hostess. She never met anyone who was a stranger for very long. She had a vibrant interest in nature, people, books, and life in general. She had a natural curiosity about the world around her and was interested in the unique experiences of others. Mary Kathryn never quit dreaming of places she wanted to see or thinking of things she wanted to do. Her quick wit never left her, and laughter was always a part of her day.
No project was too big or too impossible for her to tackle. If there was a need she was finding a way to meet it. She was always ready to help her family with any projects they were involved in. She was known for her pickles that were sold to benefit world relief and made hundreds of comforters and quilts for family, friends, and benefit auctions. She organized the preparation of thousands of school kits that were sent all over the world. She was a positive encourager to both family and friends.
Mary Kathryn was a charter member of the Harrisonville Mennonite Church. Her unwavering faith sustained her through many difficult times. Her personal mission was to make sure children knew they were important and recognized. Church members’ children, and even some grandchildren, would receive a birthday card with a small mailable gift tucked inside. She started a cradle roll of newborns and visited those homes every few months until the child was two. She shared words of encouragement, wisdom, and sometimes left literature about early child development she thought might be helpful at certain stages of growth.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Lester, in 1985; one brother J.T. Hartzler, one sister-in-law Martha Hartzler; three sisters Ethel Hartzler, Evelyn Smith and Helen Kenagy.
She is survived by her two children, Doyle (Jennette) Yoder of Garden City MO, and Reita Yoder of Harrisonville, MO; four grandchildren David (Jamie) Yoder, Harrisonville; Mike (Sarah) Yoder, Garden City: Amy Yoder, Garden City; Andrea (Ryan) Stark, Drexel, MO and eight great-grandchildren, Tayler, Tanner, Cabren, Hannah, Marissa, Brooklyn, Jonathan, and Logan. Also surviving is one sister Esther Hartzler, Harrisonville, MO; brother-in-law Marvin (Judith) Kenagy, Archie, MO; brother-in-law Maurice Smith of Goshen, Indiana; and one sister-in-law Verna Buerge of Hesston, Kansas; many nieces, nephews, and other family and friends.
Funeral services will be 2:30 p.m., Sunday, November 21, 2021 at the Harrisonville Community Church, 1606 Chapel Drive, Harrisonville, Missouri with burial in the Clearfork Cemetery near Garden City, Missouri.
Family will receive friends from 1:00 p.m. until 2:30 p.m., Sunday, November 21, 2021 at the church.
Family suggests memorial contributions may be made to MCC School Kit Projects and may be mailed to Dickey Funeral Home, P.O. Box 432, Harrisonville, Missouri 64701.