My Life

Martin Lehman’s first picture with Parents, 1926

I was born on March 14, 1926, in a small farm house in the slate hills west of the Conocheague Creek in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. My name comes from the three important people of that day. My mother’s maiden name was Ruth Martin. So my first name is Martin.

My mother already had a six year old son, and at the time of his birth was warned against having more children because of her frail health. Dr. Theodore Weagley presided at the births of my brother and me. I don’t remember being told directly, but I think that Dr. Weagley saved the life of my mother and me. In his honor my parents gave me Weagley as a second name. My father was John Irvin Lehman, so my full name was to be Martin Weagley Lehman. The good doctor had the final word. My name on my birth certificate is Martin W. Lehman. I think the doctor would not burden me with a name which could be easily mocked into “wiggly.” My affection for the old doctor  grows through the years. I remember his round face with a mustache.

A picture of my birth home from the east.

A picture of my birth home from the east.

My father was a Mennonite pastor, evangelist, and Bible teacher.  He was an organic farmer before organic farming and gardening was popular.  He owned 29 acres which he turned into a self-sustaining organic farm growing a variety of berries and vegetables. I grew up on this farm. My chores included milking the cow, “slopping” the pigs, feeding chickens and gathering eggs, turning compost, and helping my father tend the bees and extract the honey. My Mother gave me a love of birds and nature.  I was an amateur environmentalist.

Martin & Rhoda at Eastern Mennonite School

Martin & Rhoda at Eastern Mennonite School

I attended Eastern Mennonite School where Rhoda Krady and I met and became friends.  I served in Alternative Service for Conscientious Objectors to war.  In 1947, Rhoda Krady and I were married.  We became the parents of Rachel Elaine.

In Florida

Martin, Rachel & Rhoda

In 1950 we were sent by the Eastern Mennonite Mission Board to Tampa, Florida to serve as mission superintendent and pastor.  There we adopted a son, Jonathan Conrad. In 1961 I was ordained bishop by the Lancaster Conference.  I served as a conference executive in the church in the southeast until retirement in 1991.

Conrad, Kindergarten, 1968

Jonathan Conrad

 In 2006 we moved to Goshen, Indiana, to live with Rachel and her husband, Eldon Stoltzfus.  Rhoda read everything I wrote before it was  published until she died on January 3, 2012  And even now, she seems to look over my shoulder as I write.  If a comma is lacking or wrongly placed or a word misspelled,  it is because she is not really here. I miss her.  I am by heritage and by choice a Christian and a Mennonite. That means that I believe in and seek to follow Jesus of the New Testament.

The Old Fool

I am old and it is time for me think and rethink the past that I know, and ponder the future that I don’t know.  Sometime in the past I began to call myself the Old Fool. The Old Fool  invites you to think along with him, and to respond with kind comments and discerning questions in the light of your faith and doubt.  My Political Heritage and Pilgrimage tells of more events that influenced me.



26 Responses to My Life

  1. dorothy e. goff says:

    thank you for sharing these wonderful memories with us.

  2. Alicia Dirmyer says:

    Dear “old Fool”,

    My aunt Dollie met you tonight at a grief class and suggested I look at your website. I am the mother of Jorja whom you heard about at the session. She is the girl who took the walker from Dollie’s husband and told him if he wanted it, then go get it. The parts I have read so far on your site have peeked my interest and I intend on reading more. May you find peace and comfort and know angels are among us everywhere!
    God Bless & Goodnight.

  3. Vicky Martin says:

    I visited your web site by request of my Mom. My Mom attended a grief counsling meeting in which you also attended on Oct.16.
    I have enjoyed reading your site. I can’t wait to see what you post tomorrow!

  4. Thanks Vicky for your interest. You will find my response tonight by scrolling down to Fact, fiction, or myth.

  5. Sheila Booker says:

    I am in your grief class I lost my husband four years ago and believe he is a beautiful angel that surrounds me everyday of my life. I have read your site and find it very interesting thank you for your time.

  6. Vicky Martin says:

    Hi Martin! As I sit here in my office reading your website this morning, it helps to know that no matter where you are or what you are doing God is with you. As Christmas is fastly approaching, and with the lose of my Dad this April, it makes me reflect and realize what this season is all about. To me its about family and faith.
    My Mother, Dollie is in your grien group. She enjoys your comments and the fellowship she receives from the group. I can not tell you how that makes me feel! Angels are everywhere we look and some are harder to find then others. Thank you for this great web site and for putting a smile on my Mothers and Sheila Bookers face. These 2 ladies are truly angles amoung us! Have a great day!

  7. Alicia Dirmyer says:

    Hi Martin! Hope you enjoyed your evening out at Hoppers. Dollie said everyone had a wonderful evening. I am so glad she has found such a wonderful group to be part of. I know she and Sheila look forward to the fellowship.

    Have a wonderful weekend and Happy writing!

    Alicia Dirmyer

    • It was a wonderful evening at Hoppers and this evening was special, too. I went to the Festival of Carols at Sauder Hall here at Goshen College. It made this Old Man cry at times, the sounds and words were so beautiful. I wish you could have been there. Or maybe you were; the hall was packed.

  8. Denise Sauder says:

    I found your site through Facebook, Jeff Sauder a cousin of my deceased husband (grandsons of J Paul) shared this blog. After my parents-in-laws died we inherited the photos of J. Paul Sauder, which included many pictures of the mission in Tampa. Some of them were damaged in a house fire I had recently. Are you interested in seeing them? I don’t know if I have the time to scan all of them, but would like to know who all the people are. I live in Harrisonburg, don’t know if you get here, if so, maybe you could stop by. I wanted to show them to Dora Taylor before she passed away, but didn’t. Also, my sister married David Strong, the youngest of the Strong family.

    • Denise: I regret that I have been so slow in responding. I arrived in Tamp five years after J. Paul left his full time ministry there and his early years have been a mystery to me. I may not be able to identify many people of that era. But pictures of the times that he was in Tampa to pastor while I was a bishop would be interesting to me. Jewell Shenk recently visited me. I have some pictures and she has some pictures. She also goes to Harrisonburg from Sarasota ocassionally and she would be happy to seee your pictures. She is the co-chair of the Anabaptist History Association based in Sarasota. Let’s keep in touch.

  9. Pingback: Daily Discipline – Bible Study | Abnormal Anabaptist

  10. Jim Miller says:

    Hello Martin,

    Hope all is going well for you. I’ve enjoying looking over your blog and look forward to seeing more posts in the future. I’d like to contact you by email, but the one I had on file doesn’t seem to want to go through – it is the one. Would you please send me a quick email when you have a chance? I have a blogging proposal that I’d like to run past you.


    Jim Miller II

  11. Tonya says:


    It was a pleasure meeting you and talking with you. Thank you for letting me know about your site. May The Lord grant you strength and good health!


  12. Sam Troyer says:

    Hi Martin – The first time I remember meeting you was when you were Conference Minister of Southeast Mennonite Conference. I was there to interview with the Bay Shore search committee, looking back I breath a sigh of relief that we didn’t go south. It would not have worked with my Betsy’s fragile health. It’s good to have you here in the area. Betsy & I spent 7 1/2 happy healing years at Menno Haven. Prior to that we had spent 6 years at in Harrisburg where I pastored Slate Hill, which is where Ray Geigley and I became friends. He was head of Chaplaincy services later when he invited me to consider coming to MH. So we have a lot in common.
    In touch – Sam

  13. Lowell Nissley says:

    Martin, what is your address? I have something I want to send to you

  14. Martin Lehman says:

    Apt. 83, 1300 Greencroft Drive, Goshen, IN 46526

  15. Conrad Baer says:

    I recently found your wonderful site. I have a photo of my father with your father in Knoxville, Tennessee. I would be glad to email it to you.

  16. Conrad Baer says:

    Yes, I am Russell Baer’s son.

  17. Cathy Coon Bitikofer says:

    Are you presently residing in Evergreen place at Greencroft? Are you are the same one whose door has a saying by Brian Suderman on it? If not, I apologize, but your name looked familiar. My husband and I heard Brian Suderman speak at our Mennonite Western District Conference recently. If you’re not, it’s nice to meet you anyway here, and I enjoy reading your blog.

  18. Martin Lehman says:

    Yes, I am residing at Evergreen place at Greencroft. I believe I eat meals with your dad. Like me, he is a former pastor. We have a lot of stories to share.

  19. I am a retired Mennonite Pastor and Conference Executive. I am now 94 years old and living alone in an assisted living unite at Greencroft, Goshen, Indiana. My address is Greencroft, 1300 Greencroft Dr., Goshen, Indiana, 46526. Apt. 83
    I am 94 years old. I need some help with my knees, but I do not wear glasses or hearing aids. My wife is deceased but She and I moved to Goshen to be near daughter and son who live here. My wife and I lived in Florida for 56 years.
    I am certified to administer the DISC Personality system. My main use of the system has bee team building in Mennonite Congregations. It occurred to me that I might use this tool to benefit thr Assisted Living community of which I am now a part.

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