An Amish Obituary

Reader Marge asked on our recent Amish funeral customs post, “Why do Amish not publish obits in local newspapers?”

I responded that they do in fact appear in local papers. You can quite often find them online.

Here is an example: an Amish man named Roman E. Harshberger, 70, of the Nappanee, Indiana community, passed away earlier this week.

Roman’s details appeared online in the Elkhart Truth newspaper (which in turn showed up on my Google Alerts feed a couple of days ago).

Roman was to be buried in a local cemetery following a service yesterday, officiated by the bishop along with the “Home Ministry of the Old Order Amish Church”, as noted in the obituary.

Condolences to Roman’s family. He is survived by loved ones including his wife, seven children, and 24 grandchildren.

One of the most remarked-upon strengths of the Amish is the family. When else is family more appreciated than in the time of a loved one’s passing?

Amish funerals are typically attended by hundreds of people, who gather to mark the end of their fellow church member’s earthly life. Many Amish continue with the “living hope” of salvation.

In addition to my original answer, Al in KY helpfully added the following, about funerals, and obituaries published in Amish sources:

In accounts of Amish funerals in The Budget, I have sometimes read about such large crowds that the service needed to be held in three buildings/settings, with several different ministers conducting the services.

The Budget newspaper from Sugarcreek, Ohio, publishes many obituaries of Amish people. In the Local Edition, which has general community news of Holmes/Tuscarawas/Coshocton Counties, there usually are several obituaries of Amish and non-Amish. In the National Edition of The Budget, there are usually several obituaries of Amish (and Mennonite) people from settlements in various parts of the U. S. I also enjoy reading the “In Memoriams” section in The Budget where relatives send in poems in memory of deceased loved ones. Many of these poems are original, sharing specific memories of their loved ones in poetic form.

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    1. Harold Cooper

      I miss the Amish background

      I miss the Amish background that I became used to 50 years ago in Lancaster PA. Their work ethic was like none other I have experienced since. Their craftsmanship was amazing to look at and also to own. Their food was a delight to the taste buds and I still have a couple of their cookbooks. I try their recipes but for some reason, my results cannot match their results.

    2. Onthesly

      Low churches

      Do you thin low churches like the Swartzentrubers publish public obituaries? Seems like they would consider it too worldly to me, but I don’t know.

      1. Terry Shryock

        I highly doubt they would do so.

      2. Good question, I don’t know the answer, but I have never seen one that I knew to be a Swartzentruber person. I would tend to agree with Terry.

    3. Terry Shryock

      Amish obits

      Having grown up in Tuscarawas County (Ohio)-which is located just a few miles East of Holmes County-not only have I seen Amish obits. in the local paper (Times-Reporter)for years, I can say that they are my favorite to read simply due to the family sizes!!!

      1. That is a nice thing about them. Your comment reminded me of this old post:

        “The following is taken from an anonymous obituary found in The Diary. The gentleman in question, a Mr. Stoltzfus, was in his early 80s at the time of death. According to the obit, among other relatives, Stoltzfus was survived by “98 grandchildren; 32 step-grandchildren; 143 great-grandchildren; numerous step-great-grandchildren”.

        I am always amazed by numbers like these, which are not uncommon for Amish individuals, especially when they get up into their 8th decades and beyond. The math is pretty simple. Say the average Amish couple has 7 children with the last coming around age 40.

        If those children average the same amount of children, by the time the youngest is 40, you’ve got around 50 grands, plus a crop of great-grands coming on strong. In some communities families average more, however–even 8 or 9 children. No wonder it’s possible to have an Amish family as large as this.”

    4. OntheSly


      Hi Eric,

      How does an English person get a subscription to The Diary? I’m interested in tracking settlement patterns, etc…

      I saw instructions years ago on your blog which I followed, but no publications ever came. 🙁