Elizabeth Ruth Regier Unruh was born on August 5, 1929 in Newton, Kansas to Sam and Anna Regier. She was raised on the family farm between Buhler and Moundridge with her two older brothers, Austin and Raymond. Elizabeth, or Liz, graduated from Buhler High School in 1947, having boarded in town during the school week throughout her four years, living together with other girls and relatives.
Elizabeth attended Bethel College where she met W. Jack Unruh from Meno, Oklahoma. They married on August 18, 1950, at Hebron Mennonite Church, Buhler, Kansas. Having one more year of college before graduating, they resided in the campus “homettes” which was a 15′ x 15′ masonite house with a tin roof and no water. Liz graduated from Bethel College in May 1951 with a degree in Home Economics. The couple eventually moved to Topeka, Kansas where Jack performed 1-W service at the Topeka State Hospital and Liz worked for KPL and taught two years in the Topeka School District.
In 1955 and 1960, Jack and Liz welcomed their two daughters, Carol and Judy, respectively. Liz stayed at home with the girls until Judy was in 5th grade. She then worked as a lunchroom secretary at Boswell Jr. High for three years and at Highland Park Central Elementary School as a paraprofessional in the Chapter 1 reading program for 17 years. She retired in 1991.
A huge part of Liz’s life was spent in church. Southern Hills Mennonite Church was her church home where she and Jack were charter members. She hardly missed a Sunday morning, even after the current pandemic forced her to stay safely in her duplex on Sunday mornings. She learned to watch Sunday services via YouTube link and participated in her women’s Sunday School class via Zoom! She cooked many covered dishes for potlucks, baked many zwiebach for Thanksgiving dinners, and added many stitches around the quilt frame for the annual MCC auction quilt. In the past, Liz was involved in various ministries as well, including the I CARE assistance program and the MCC Olive Branch store in Topeka.
Liz and Jack enjoyed many activities together over the years, including: camping, traveling, cooking out, hosting friends at their place for homemade ice cream, hosting the church for an annual wiener roast, attending local sporting events, and visiting children and grandchildren.
Granddaughters, Nicole and Tia, were very special to Liz. She loved following their lives as they both married and began their own careers and families. Nicole and husband, Josh Hein, of Newton, KS., have four fun and rambunctious children (Jaxson, Rebecca, Allysa and Savannah). She loved hearing stories of their school activities and daily antics. Tia and husband, Kyle Regier recently moved to Halstead where they are closer and were able to make quick visits to Liz after she moved to Kidron Bethel Village in North Newton.
Daughter Carol, along with her husband Mike Ingenthron, live in Grantville, Kansas, close to Topeka. Daughter Judy and husband Tim Goertzen, live in rural Goessel, Kansas.
In January of 2015, Liz and Jack moved to Aldersgate Retirement Village in Topeka. However, in December of that same year, Jack passed away. Liz stayed at Aldersgate making many friends and participating in their many activities until just recently when her health began to decline. After a 7-day stay in a Topeka hospital in mid-November, she moved to Kidron Bethel Village in North Newton, Kansas. She gained a little strength and was able to enjoy visits from family and friends. Happily, she also was able to spend the day at Judy’s house on Christmas Day.
Elizabeth passed away early in the morning on Thursday, January 6, 2022. In her short time at Kidron, we learned she endeared herself to the wonderful staff that took care of her. “Spunky” they called her, and grateful and always kind. She will be missed by her family and many friends.
A memorial service will be announced at a later date in the Spring
Memorial donations in Elizabeth’s memory may be made to Southern Hills Mennonite Church Topeka, Kansas or MCC both in care of Petersen Funeral Home 215 North Main Newton, Kansas 67114