Rev. George H. Yoder
{ "" }
Share
Share George's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Rev. George H. Yoder, 96, of Allentown, PA, died June 1, 2020 in the Phoebe Home. Married to the late Vivian H. Yoder for 66 years, he was born in Souderton, PA, the third of nine children, to the late Paul and Katie (Hunsicker) Yoder. He will always be remembered for his helpfulness, which led him to become a minister, social worker, community organizer, social justice advocate, spiritual guide, and small group leader. An extraordinary listener, he enjoyed hearing people's stories and helping them reflect on their lives. He loved to laugh with joyful abandon. An avid photographer, croquet player, bicyclist, journal keeper, and memoirist, he delighted his family and friends with scenes from his life growing up in the country. As a child George saw his grandfather butcher a pig and decided he would not be a butcher when he grew up. He got struck by lightning in the root cellar, fell through a hay hole while playing brumsock and got knocked out, trapped a skunk and stunk for a week. He attended a one-room schoolhouse through eighth grade and a three-room school through eleventh. He enjoyed crafting meticulous technical drawings and won an essay contest about why he wanted to be a research chemist, which he would have done if he'd gone to college right away, but WWII intervened. He worked for his father at the Railway Express, an essential service, then served almost three years in the Army, in combat in France and Germany, where he learned that his younger brother Paul had been killed in 1945, soon after the Battle of the Bulge. After he and Vivian married, he told her he thought he wanted to be a minister. She said, "I knew that." He was grateful for her insights and for introducing him to literature, theater, and music. A tireless advocate for peace and justice, he devoted forty years to Allentown churches, social service agencies, and community groups. While he served as pastor of St. Paul's UCC (1958-67), he fostered interracial, inter-church Bible studies and actively engaged in community projects through the Allentown Council of Churches (now Lehigh Conference of Churches) promoting fair housing and social services for migrant farmworkers, minorities, and the poor. He directed H.A.R.T. (Hanover Acres Riverview Terrace) Neighborhood Center (1967-68), became a caseworker (1968-71) and then directed Lehigh County Children and Youth Services (1972-83) while serving as supply pastor at Christ UCC Church. He was instrumental in the 1981 merger of Christ UCC with St. John's UCC, where he then served as assistant to the pastor until 1997. He sponsored spiritual renewal retreats in Penn Northeast Conference of the UCC and was a cofounder and active member of CUNA (Congregations United for Neighborhood Action), advocating for socially conscious urban renewal in Allentown from 1995 to 2008. A lifelong learner and teacher, he exuded warmth and exemplified integrity, compassion, and commitment to helping people. He often said he wanted his epitaph to read: "He was always there when he was needed." We will hold him forever in our hearts with gratitude and love.

Survivors: Children: Rev. Rebecca Stephens, wife of Barry Stephens, of Allentown; Phillip Yoder, husband of Stef Brok, of Birdsboro; Susan Bauer of Moundsville, WV; Barbara Yoder, wife of Edward Connor, of Berkeley, CA. Grand and great-grandchildren: Eric and Jen (Tice) Stephens and daughter Hazel Grace; Emily (Stephens) and Christian Sutter and son Casper; Bhagavan Bauer and Ananga Manjari and sons Nava Kishore and Nitya Navine; Sukadevi Bauer; Narahari Bauer and Cliff Kavara and newborn daughter. Brothers (and spouses) Charles and Louise Yoder and Jim and Ann Yoder, sisters Betty Reiff and Marie Wenner, and many nieces and nephews.

A service for immediate family will be arranged by the J. S. Burkholder Funeral Home, www.jsburkholder.com. A celebration of his life will be planned at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to St. John's UCC, 36 S. 6th Street, Allentown, PA 18101.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Morning Call on Jun. 7, 2020.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by J.S. Burkholder Funeral Home Inc.
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
22 entries
June 24, 2020
George was a very reserved man very nice few words but very understanding he had such a calm spirit about him I will miss him very much
Comora Houston
Friend
June 20, 2020
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived. I only know of George from his granddaughter, Nara, who recently gave us our first grandchild. She radiates love and respect for her grandfather whenever she speaks of him. In reading the lovely memories from his friends, it's obvious that Mr. Yoder was a very special man. So proud to have his granddaughter in our family as our son's partner and to have our granddaughter share his DNA. Simple, straightforward, scientific reincarnation. Thank you, George. We are blessed by the noble life you led. The legacy lives on & on.
Cathy Kavara
Grand Parent
June 20, 2020
I have been binge listening to the hymn, "For All the Saints Who From Their Labour's Rest" since June 2, 2020. I cannot think of a better way to think about you, Dear George. You changed the trajectory of my life and I will always be grateful for the peace and love I found through your teachings. Rest in peace my very good friend.
Lesley Hein
Friend
June 15, 2020
I met George and his wife, Vivian, in the mid 1980s at a Jane Wells Schooley for Congress campaign office soon after I moved into Allentown. I was single then and only knew a few people in town. George and Vivian became quick friends. They also introduced me to St. Johns UCC Church in Allentown.
When I adopted my son, Jacob, from Peru I was already singing on the church choir. George was one of three men in the congregation who would take care of Jacob for me during our Sunday service.
In 1991, I adopted my daughter, Leigh Ana, from Honduras, and three years later I married my husband, Gary. We bought a house in Northampton. Even though I still saw George and Vivian at church, they would come to visit our blended family and we all appreciated their visits!
I will always be extremely glad to have had George and Vivian as my beloved friends.
Barb Silfies
Barbara L Silfies
Friend
June 14, 2020
Dear Phillip and family, Miss Ronemus Skinner here to express my condolences. Your father married Watson Skinner and me in 1986 and your mother played the organ. Small world. Your father was a great guy and fun.
Ruth Ronemus Skinner
Friend
June 10, 2020
Rebecca, Philip,Susan and Barbara, we were so sorry to read of your Dad's death. We are among the many praying for you and the extended family. We were always thankful for your Mom and Dad as neighbors. We have many good memories from S. 16th St. Frank and Loretta Farley
Loretta A. Farley
Neighbor
June 10, 2020
The Rev. George Yoder was both a friend and teacher. I credit him with many things in my life, but two I would like to share. George invited me to participate in a retreat and follow-up small group experience thru the UCC and there I learned the value of silence and spiritual exercises plus made some life long friendships. The second lesson was, if you want someone to be involved, you need to make a personal phone call. A very practical and helpful life long lesson. George and Vivian have touched my life and heart in so many ways and live on in my memory.
Nancy Kramer-Moyer
Friend
June 9, 2020
I knew and worked with George at the Lehigh County Conference of Churches. He was on the Pathways Committee of the Conference, and I was the Pathways DIrector. George was wonderfully human and kind, and a friend. Also very astute politically. I know he had a long and successful career in human services, as well as serving as UCC clergy. I remember him as someone who was against war, and he defended my wearing of a peace button while I worked at Pathways, during the start of the war on Iraq. There were some that thought peace buttons were controversial at work; not George. He and Viv made a good pair, conscious and caring and outspoken for peace and justice and culture. The world, now especially, needs more like them. Rest in peace.
Kathryn Hoffman
Friend
June 8, 2020
I met George and Vivian when they became members of Grace UCC many years ago. I have very fond memories of them both. George was a small group leader who encouraged and mentored me to become a small group leader. I loved having in depth spiritual conversations with George. He inspired me to delve deep into my relationship with God. I will be forever thankful to him. My deepest condolences to Georges family.
Susan Wehr
Friend
June 8, 2020
Group of 10 Memorial Trees
Plant Memorial Trees
Sympathy Gift courtesy of
Daniel Meehan
June 8, 2020
Sincere sympathy to Becca and family. George had a life well lived both with family and the community. A true and kind gentleman, rest in peace. Ginny and Ernie josar
Virginia Josar
Coworker
June 8, 2020
Thank God for George Yoder! He welcomed me as a new pastor in Allentown, dropped in on me when he was riding his bike past Hope Church, and encouraged, challenged, and mentored me in my ministry.

We enjoyed Theology, Literature, and Coffee (TLC) at Moravian Seminary together with Vivian and about 30 or so other literary types. When TLC discussed "The Life of Pi," I was unable to attend, and so I called up George to see if I could come by and discuss it with him and Vivian. In their living room, he and Vivian produced a revelation in me about that book that I treasure to this day - not only the revelation, but how it came about. After all, the book begins with a wise old man saying, "I will tell you a story that will make you believe in God." George was that wise old man for me and his life was his story.
Bill Ragan
Friend
June 8, 2020
Thank you for your service to our country. Rest In Peace.
June 8, 2020
Beca, so sorry to hear about your dad our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.
Sue and Dave Molchany
Neighbor
June 7, 2020
George was a kind and gentle man, he was gracious and had such a memorable smile. May god bless and hold him dearly because a truly special man has moved into his holy house. God bless the wonderful family we truly came to love.
Louise Santee Caregiver in Miller
Louise Santee
Friend
June 7, 2020
While I did not know George for long, I was honored to have had the opportunity to meet him and help him in the small ways I could. George was filled with so much love and care for others and this will continue to spread in his memory. On behalf of myself and Phoebe Home, I express my sincere sympathies to all his family. I hope you all find peace during this difficult time.
Elizabeth Lindquist
June 7, 2020
My deepest sympathy and Christian love to Becca and the entire family at this time of loss. Your Dad was a tremendous influence in my life and ministry, from getting me involved in CUNA near the start, to giving sage advice on marriage and serving the church. Several years ago we had a heart-to-heart and I told him I was offering to let him hear the eulogy I would like to share at his funeral. We both ended up with tears in our eyes, and I am forever grateful that I spoke those words to him, and that he influenced me in so many ways. Until we meet again----thank you for being a mentor and a friend.
Dr. David Charles Smith
June 7, 2020
We Loved Uncle George so very much. He was such a great man. Such a kind and intelligent man. Great to talk with, and a great listener. We will miss him. Love from Bob and Val Reiff
Robert B. Reiff
Family
June 7, 2020
George was a wonderful person, minister, very sincere in all he did. My sincere condolences to his family. He was true to his epitaph of "always being there when needed," which I experienced when my late husband was very ill.
Mrs. Lee Leibensperger - Pat a former member of St. John's UCC, Allentown.
Pat Leibensperger
Friend
June 7, 2020
I remember this great man, back in the late 60.s he helped our family get our first home, Now he was welcomed into heaven, by the 2 people he helped, Again in my life I am saying God Bless you
Jane white
Friend
June 6, 2020
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
Melissa Repash
June 6, 2020
e was the Minister at St Paul's UCC. Him and his wife. Prayers to the family
Mary Lou Beisel Miller
Friend
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences