Neta Faye Yoder, age 90, departed this earthly life on April 22, 2023. She most recently lived at Pleasantview Home, Kalona, Iowa; Legacy Gardens, Iowa City; and Parkview Manor, Wellman. She lived in Wellman for 24 years prior, and in Japan for 35 years. She was a member of West Union Mennonite Church, Parnell, Iowa.
Neta Faye Sweigart was born on December 27, 1932, in rural Perryton, Texas, to Milton and Effie (Kauffman) Sweigart. She grew up in the Perryton area and remained proud of her Texas heritage through her life, sometimes drifting back into her distinctive local accent with a twinkle in her eye.
She attended Hesston Academy and College, Hesston, Kansas, and worked as a teacher at a country school in Yoder, Kansas. Later she attended Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana.
On August 2, 1953, she married Marvin K. Yoder of Wellman, Iowa.
In 1961, Neta Faye and Marvin moved to Japan with their children, as missionaries for Mennonite Board of Missions, Elkhart, Indiana. During their time in Japan, they lived in Tokyo, Nakashibetsu, Sapporo and Ashoro. They retired from the mission field in 1996 and moved to Wellman.
While in Japan, Neta Faye gained a remarkable command of the Japanese language and used it to spread her warmth, compassion and humor. She immersed herself in Japanese culture, collecting ceramics as an art form, learning skills of Japanese cooking and taking lessons in flower arrangement.
She taught English and cooking classes to women’s groups and taught English at Hokusei University, Sapporo. She served on the Executive Committee and Peace Committee for Japan Mennonite Christian Church Conference and served on the school board for Hokkaido International School, Sapporo, for six years.
She also devoted her life to raising her four children, imparting on them an identity as Mennonites through her story-telling, parental guidance and cooking from back home. She conveyed a firm sense of propriety, yet delighted in cheering her children up, sometimes with mischievous jokes drawn from her Texas childhood. She entertained them with whimsical poems recited from memory and sang songs and read stories to them every night at bedtime. In this way, they absorbed entire series by authors such as C.S. Lewis and Laura Ingalls Wilder.
After the children were grown, she and Marvin pastored a congregation in Ashoro, enveloping children there with her love as if they were her grandchildren.
After retiring to Wellman, Neta Faye served as Elder at West Union and assisted with Sunday School and Vacation Bible School leadership. She served in the Iowa-Nebraska Mennonite Conference on its Executive Committee of Mennonite Women Program Committee as its Spiritual Life and Wellness Secretary.
She also loved sharing her hospitality as a docent at Kalona Historical Village and as cashier and greeter at Crowded Closet in Iowa City.
Neta Faye is survived by her husband Marvin, currently of Kalona; daughter Deborah (Robert) Kartheiser, Rockford, Illinois; sons Stephen (Karen) Kreider Yoder, San Francisco, California, and Jay (Diane) Yoder, Chicago, Illinois; seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren; as well as her sister Donna Moreland, Arthur, Illinois.
She was predeceased by her daughter Rebecca Mae Yoder, her brothers Marvin Sweigart and Earl Sweigart, and her parents.
Visitation will be at West Union Mennonite Church, 3253 305th St., Parnell, Iowa, on Monday, April 24, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Funeral services will be held at West Union on Tuesday, April 25, at 10:30 a.m.; a lunch reception will follow at the church. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Mennonite Mission Network, West Union Mennonite Church and Pleasantview Home. Powell Funeral Home in Wellman is caring for arrangements. Messages and tributes may be directed to www.powellfuneralhomes.com.