Lilly Burkholder Stoltzfus went to be with Jesus at the age of 93 on February 1, 2019. From her birth on May 23, 1925, Lilly was known for her calming presence, ready laugh and humor, and unwavering love of God and humanity.
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Raised in a vibrant Amish family, their home was always filled with visitors and engaging conversation. She and her twin sister Tilly were the sixth and seventh of thirteen children.
Her life was one of service and devotion. As a young adult, she and Tilly went to Kansas City to work in a hospital. Her adventurous spirit took her to Bible School in Minnesota and then all the way up to an Ojibwe reservation in Northern Canada with Northern Light Gospel Mission. It was there that she fell in love with the culture, the people, the land, and eventually the love of her life, Johnny Stoltzfus. Lilly and Johnny met and were married at the Poplar Hill Native Reservation in 1957.
Over the next 27 years, Johnny and Lilly lived amongst the native people, which is where they had their four children; Nathan, Jewell, Pearl, and Ruby.
They lived on over seven reservations during their time in Canada including Cat Lake, Poplar Hill, and Sioux Lookout. Lilly learned the Ojibwe language and gained the trust of every community she lived in. Her native name was Matchi (meaning the tall one). Lilly knew how to cook food for a group of people on a budget, and always made people feel welcome when they were in her home. Her kitchen doubled as an emergency room for the community and center of nourishment while raising her four active children.
The family moved to Morgantown, Pennsylvania in 1976. Lilly was the calm force for their family during a challenging transition. She was the consistent glue that held their family together.
After Lilly finished raising her children, Lilly and Johnny followed their love of the north back to Stormer Lake, Canada. They continued working with the Native people and were trusted mentors and counselors for many in the community. Johnny and Lilly became Canadian citizens in the late 90’s.
They returned to the United States for their final time and enjoyed living close to family. Their home was just down the lane from Pearl and Kevin’s dairy farm where they enjoyed helping to raise their grandchildren.
While Johnny was traveling around Canada and the world, Lilly was steadfast in her love for her kids. She was tall, strong, and quiet, but not for a lack of thoughts. She was the strong stake-in-the-ground presence in Johnny’s life that allowed him to accomplish all that he did. Her kids moved to different cities but would often return home for warm food and her peaceful presence. She was a gardener, birdwatcher, and nature lover. Lilly was a creative spirit. She loved to knit sweaters and make pottery, quilts, and crafts with the kids. She could turn any house into a comfortable home.
When she lost her Johnny, her love for her kids and grandkids and faith in the Lord kept her strong, but she was ready to return to the arms of her husband and be in her Heavenly Home reunited with her twin sister and family.
Lilly was happiest when surrounded by her family. Left to honor Lilly are her 4 children, Nathan Stoltzfus, Jewell Hatton, Pearl (Kevin) Beiler, and Ruby (Frank) Grijalva; her eight grandchildren, Chantz (Elin) Beiler, Chelsea (David) Zapata, Colburn (Caitlin) Beiler, Lorenzo Price, Bronte Price, Chloe Beiler, Alexandra Hatton, and Monroe Price; and her siblings Malinda Miller, David Burkholder, and Iva Nisley. She is predeceased by her husband Johnathan K Stoltzfus, her parents David and Amanda Burkholder and siblings Walter Burkholder, Paul Burkholder, Levi Burkholder, Leona Kilmer, Mable Mast, Tilly Halteman, Marybelle Yoder and Richard Burkholder.
A Funeral Service will be held on Wednesday, February 6, at 11:00 A.M. at Hopewell Christian Fellowship, 2286 Hopewell Road, Elverson, PA. Friends may call at the church on Wednesday from 9:00 A.M. until the time of the service. Interment in the adjoining church cemetery.
In lieu of flowers please forward donations in honor of Lilly and her work with the First Nations of Canada to First Nations Restoration Center – www.firstnationsrc.org