BLUFFTON — James Russell Suter – beloved husband, father, grandfather, and role model, 97, died early Friday, January 24, 2014, at Mennonite Memorial Home in Bluffton, Ohio. He is survived by two sons: Fred (Marlene) Suter of Westerville, OH, John (Ruth) Suter of Brisbane, CA, and a daughter, Barbara Suter of Traverse City, MI. His grandchildren include Christina Eddington (Brian Sheppard) of Madison, WI, Mary Lewis of Findlay, OH, Leah Suter of Minneapolis, MN, Daniel James Suter of Westerville, OH, and Adam and Adrian Suter of Brisbane, CA. Great-grandchildren are Tre and Taylah Lewis both of Findlay, OH. In 1985 he married Treva Dillman and she survives.
James was preceded in death by two wives: Elvira B. Niswander (1981) and Mabel Lora (1983), and two brothers: Wendell (1926) and Dwight Suter (1997).
Born at home on June 11, 1916, James was the son of Gilbert H. Suter and Martha Schumacher. He grew up on a corn, soybean, and livestock farm near Pandora, Ohio, and loved the work on the farm. After graduating from Pandora High School in 1933, he farmed with his dad and brother Dwight. He later attended Bluffton College and Ohio State University where he majored in mathematics and physics. James enjoyed designing, creating, repairing, and improving many things on the farm. He worked briefly at the Pandora Stone Company before taking employment for 23 years starting on the assembly line and working his way to quality control at Ford Motor Company in Lima, Ohio.
In 1942, he married Elvira B. Niswander of Bluffton and they lived near Pandora where together they raised three children. He was a member of Grace Mennonite Church in Pandora and later First Mennonite Church in Bluffton. James thoroughly enjoyed music. He sang bass for many area solo performances, and contributed to several choral groups including the Pandora High School Chorus, the Bluffton College Vesper Choir, and the Lima Choral Society. He remembered fondly the First Mennonite Church's choir trip to France for the Mennonite World Conference in 1984. He sang The Messiah 60 times with the Bluffton College Choral Society.
James remembered his Swiss Mennonite roots. He worked as a volunteer with MCC (Akron, PA) during his retirement years. Throughout his life he was delighted to speak the Swiss dialect- the language spoken in his home during his youth - whenever he found someone who knew it. His words of wisdom are these: "Think not of what you have lost. Think of what you have left."
A Memorial Service beginning at 11:00 AM on Saturday, April 12, 2014, will be held at the First Mennonite Church in Bluffton, OH. A fellowship meal will follow the service.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Bluffton University Department of Music, the First Mennonite Church in Bluffton, Mennonite Central Committee (Akron, PA), or Camp Friedenswald (Cassopolis, MI). Arrangements are made by Chiles-Laman Funeral Home, Bluffton. Online condolences may be expressed at www.chiles-lamanfh.com.