I was shocked to see this obituary today. I immediately recognized the photo from the back of her book. Lillian Fern Stoltzfus wrote a very nice guide to learning Pennsylvania Dutch called Speaking Amish.

I don’t believe I ever met Lillian or anyone in her family, but have known of her for years. I would often see her books in stores in Amish communities and of course got one for myself. Lillian loved languages and clearly had a talent for them.

At a young age 46 – I thought she was even younger than that – this was an unexpected and tragic passing for the family. From her obituary:

Lillian Fern Stoltzfus, 46 of Bird-in-Hand, died Friday afternoon July 24, 2020.

She was the daughter of Daniel Z. Stoltzfus, and Lydia Fisher Stoltzfus of Bird-in-Hand, PA and was a member of Oasis Mennonite Fellowship.

Born in Upper Leacock, she taught school in Lancaster, PA, Virginia, and Paraguay. Her passion was for ministry and she recently served at a refugee camp in Greece after a mission to Turkey.

A graduate of Millersville University, she provided translation services and English as a Second Language for Church World Services in Lancaster City, speaking English, Arabic, Spanish, German, and Pennsylvania Dutch.

Lillian loved butterflies, art, and had a special fascination with languages and wrote several books in her native dialect of PA German. She was a favored Aunt and loved tea parties with her nieces in the orchard.

Lillian’s parents wrote on Facebook that “She went on a walk today and was found mid afternoon by a search party having drowned in a pond.” The address for cards and letters is:

Daniel & Lydia Stoltzfus
233 Snake Hill
Bird-in-hand PA 17505

Condolences to Lillian’s family.


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