Note: This obituary is a revised and shortened version of one written by Mackenzie Miller for Goshen (Indiana) College, which has granted Mennonite Mission Network permission to add to the original and to repost.
NEWTON, Kansas (Mennonite Mission Network and Goshen College) – From the time he served as a "seagoing cowboy" at 16 to deliver horses to Gdansk, Poland, after World War II, until his death at 90, Albert "Al" J. Meyer engaged with peacemaking efforts on many fronts.
One of those fronts was the Peace and Justice Support Network (PJSN), a ministry of Mennonite Church USA led by Mennonite Mission Network. The family has chosen PJSN as a memorial for Al, a retired Goshen College physics professor and a leader in Anabaptist and ecumenical circles.
PJSN provided Al, and his spouse, Mary Ellen (Yoder) Meyer, a way to express their passion for waging peace and justice in a violent world, Yoder Meyer said during a recent phone call from Goshen, Indiana, where Al died from Parkinson's disease on July 31.
"Al has always had an interest in theology as well as science, ever since he first went to post-war Europe when he was a 16-year-old to a war-torn country he wanted to help rejuvenate," she said. "And then right after we were married, we served for three years in Europe with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), where he continued his focus on peace with the Historic Peace Churches Committee."
When they came back to the United States, Al joined the Peace Problems Committee, a group formed by Harold Bender and Guy Hershberger. "This group of then-elderly men thought they needed younger voices on the committee, and they sought out Al and Edgar Metzler," Yoder Meyer said. "They worked on finding peaceful solutions in our problematic world."
In his later years, Al found an extension for his peacemaking by supporting PJSN, she said. "He felt that focus was appropriate for later in his life, when he could continue on another level to promote peace," Yoder Meyer recalled.
Al was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sept. 24, 1929, the son of Jacob Conrad and Esther (Steiner) Meyer. He earned a bachelor's degree from Goshen College in 1950 and a PhD from Princeton University in 1954. On Aug. 21, 1954, he married Mary Ellen Yoder, and the two were a team until his death.
Al's work abroad included serving as regional director for MCC and as a research assistant at the University of Basel. He also served as a Mennonite liaison with the World Council of Churches and as a Mennonite representative on the Continuation Committee of the Historic Peace Churches in Europe.
Meyer worked in Goshen College's physics department from 1957-1960, before moving to Kansas to become academic dean and professor of physics at Bethel College in North Newton for five years. He returned to Goshen in 1966 as part-time professor of physics, when he also served as executive secretary of the Mennonite Board of Education. He served in both roles until his retirement in 1985.
He is survived by his spouse and five children, 15 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
You may read the full obituary here.