A service to celebrate the life of Theodore James “Jim” Goering, 86, of North Newton, who passed away peacefully April 13, 2022, with members of his loving family at his bedside at Kidron Bethel Retirement Village, will be 10:45 a.m. Saturday, June 11, at Grace Community Church, 1600 S. Anderson Rd., Newton.
Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 10, at the church.
Jim was born May 3, 1935, to Peter J. and Frieda (Goering) Goering at the farm home near Pretty Prairie. He was one of five children — the other four being Josephine Jane, Homer Dale, Helen Louise, and Vernon Dean.
He came to the Christian faith under the tutelage of the Rev. P.P. Tschetter at First Mennonite Church near Pretty Prairie, graduated from Pretty Prairie High School in 1953, spent two years at Bethel College, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University in 1957 and master’s and PhD degrees from Michigan State University in 1961.
He married Shirley Ann Suderman on May 31, 1957, at Trinity Mennonite Church near Hillsboro.
They became parents of six children: Todd Douglas Goering (died at birth), Terri Lynn Ingram of Greenwood Village, Colorado; Timothy James Goering of Santa Fe, New Mexico; Thomas Jay Goering of Carol Stream, Illinois; Susan Peng Leahy of Falls Church, Virginia; and Trevor Santhi Goering of Wilmington, Delaware.
At the time of Jim’s death, he and his loving wife and best friend, Shirley, had been happily married for just under 65 years.
Jim’s graduate training in international economics took him, Shirley, and their family to places of employment and service in several locations around the world.
They included Jim serving as assistant professor at the University of California at Berkeley 1962-’63; an administrator in the US Peace Corps in Guatemala 1963-’65; staff economist, in the executive office of the U.S. president 1965-’66; agricultural policy adviser with Harvard University Development Advisory Service with the governments of Malaysia 1966-’70 and Ethiopia 1971-’74.
Also, senior agricultural economist with World Bank in Washington, District of Columbia, 1974-’85; senior operations officer with the World Bank resident mission in Beijing, China 1985-’89; World Bank resident representative in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 1989-’92; division chief with World Bank in Washington, D.C., 1992-’95; and director of international programs with World Vision Relief and Development in Washington, D.C., 1995-’99.
After retirement in 1999, Jim and Shirley returned to their roots in North Newton, where Jim played active roles in the men’s ministry at Grace Community Church and the work of the North Newton Community Foundation and as a “low-level politician” on the North Newton City Council, a position he held for 20 years.
In that role, he showed particular support of community environmental issues — a robust tree-planting program, reduced use of plastics, expanded use of energy-efficient light bulbs, a move toward emission-free electric vehicles, and robust support for a North Newton solar panel project that reduced monthly electricity costs for the city by more than 50%.
During retirement, Jim and Shirley spent portions of 17 summers in East Asia teaching English under auspices of a Christian organization, the English Language Institute.
This included 13 summers in China, two in Laos, and two in Mongolia.
Much of Jim’s professional work was to focus on problems of global poverty and income inequality within the operational context of an active commitment to Christian principles.
In his international interactions with differing ethnicities and cultures, a Bible verse that he considered his “north star” was I Peter 3:15(b): “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.…”
In 2019, a book written by Jim, “Prairie Breezes — Odyssey from Pretty Prairie”, was published by Christian Faith Publishing Co. This 792-page narrative is essentially a Goering family biography that spans 82 years (1935-2017).
It features Jim’s remarkable career, beginning with his humble roots on a farm near Pretty Prairie through halls of influence and power in Washington, D.C.; Beijing, China; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Guatemala City, Guatemala; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Pyongyang, North Korea; and elsewhere, always driven by the consummate desire to honor the gentle exhortation of the father in Jim’s youth to “leave this world a better place than when you arrived.”
Jim is survived by his wife, Shirley; daughter Terri and son-in-law David Ingram; son Timothy and daughter-in-law, Darlene; son Thomas and daughter-in-law Suzanne; daughter Susan and son-in-law Mike Leahy; and son Trevor.
Also surviving are eight grandchildren — Michelle, Abby, Tyler; Philip and Peter Ingram; Sara Erickson; Tess Eklund; and Michael Leahy V — and three great grandchildren — Nolan and Zoe Eklund and Marcus Goering.
One grandson, Christopher, preceded him in death.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Grace Community Church, Kidron Bethel Village, or North Newton Community Foundation. Contributions may be sent to the funeral home.
Jim’s mortal remains have been cremated, and ashes will be interred at his grave site in the First Mennonite Church cemetery near Pretty Prairie.
Arrangements are by Broadway Colonial Funeral Home, 120 E. Broadway, Newton KS 67114.