Edna Buller Gerber was the first of six children born to Peter J. Buller and Anna (Wiens) Buller Dirks on August 4, 1920 in Chinook, Montana. Edna was baptized at age 13 in Lustre, Montana in the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Church before moving to Mt. Lake. She learned how to save and reuse things during the Great Depression, skills which served her well later in life as missionary in Africa.
Edna graduated in 1930 from Mt. Lake High School. She also attended Mt. Lake Bible School to further her knowledge and love of God. She went on to attend Bethel College in St. Paul, Wheaton College near Chicago, and received a BA in Home Economics at Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana.
Edna met Ellis in their senior year at Goshen. The two were on their Senior Sneak standing in line to ride horses and began a conversation that lasted more than 66 years. Both Edna and Ellis had a heart for missionary service and a conviction to share the Gospel with others. They married in the country "Valley Church" (now Cornerstone Bible Church) near Mt. Lake on June 21, 1949. Their first home mission assignment was in Dillonvale, Ohio serving through Kidron Mennonite Church, Kidron, Ohio.
In 1953, Edna and Ellis answered the call to serve in the Belgian Congo with Africa Inter Mennonite Mission. While serving as missionary teachers in Congo, they had three children: Daniel, Rebecca and Joanna. During their 20 years with AIMM they lived within the struggle of political upheaval as the Congolese rebelled against the Belgian government. On furlough in 1967, Edna received her second Bachelor of Arts degree in Library Science from Mankato State College.
As a teacher on the mission field, Edna taught whichever courses were needed, such as English and Art. In 1972, Edna spearheaded a student art project to paint African decorations on the exterior walls of the new secondary school in Nyanga. Edna was recently pleased to hear that these paintings are still intact.
Edna was also creative at home. She had a foot-pedal sewing machine and was an excellent seamstress; she frequently sewed matching dresses for her daughters and herself. They retired from the mission field in 1973 and settled in Mt. Lake. Edna worked as secretary - with Ellis as the manager - at the Mt. Lake Mennonite Mutual Aid office. She and Ellis also served as deacons at the EMB church and taught adult Sunday School. Edna spoke five languages and had many hobbies: she was an avid reader, genealogist, secretary of the Cottonwood County Bird Club, "book lady" at Care and Share, an alto in the Mt. Lake German Singers, and a member of the quilting guild.
On retirement from MMA in 1988, Edna and Ellis completed a two year Mennonite Voluntary Service term in Wichita, KS. They enjoyed camping and traveling. The joy of her life was her grandchildren and she stayed active in their lives.
As their health failed they moved to retirement communities in Mt. Lake and then in Cannon Falls. After Ellis passed away in March of 2015, Edna lived in the memory care unit of Three Links, Northfield, MN where she could be closer to Becky and Dan.
Edna passed to eternity at age 96, on Thursday, August 25, 2106.
Edna is preceded in death by her parents, Peter J. Buller and Anna (Wiens) Dirks; husband Ellis; brothers Harold Buller, Henry Buller, Peter Buller; sisters-in law Gladys (Klassen) Buller, Dorothy (Gerber) Schrock and Ruth Gerber; brothers-in-law Dave Schrock and George Newman and daughter-in-law Terry (Coleman) Gerber. She is survived by her brother Clarence and Phyllis Buller in Colorado Springs, CO; sister Shirley (Buller) Newman in Mt. Lake; sister-in-law Anne Buller in Bluffton, OH and Celia (Gerber) Lehman in Orville, OH; and children: Dan Gerber in Minneapolis, MN, Becky (Gerber) Ruddy and Rick Ruddy in Cannon Falls, and Joanna (Gerber) and Randy Pinkerton in Wichita, KS. She also has five beloved grandchildren, a grand son-in-law, and many nieces and nephews.
Memorials may be sent to: Africa Inter Mennonite Mission, 1013 Division Street, Goshen, IN, 46528