J. Lester Graybill

Photo of J. Lester Graybill

J. Lester Graybill


     J. Lester Graybill, 86, of New Holland, died April 27 at Lancaster General Hospital.

     Lester was a retired Mennonite minister. He was pastor of Orrville (Ohio) Mennonite Church from 1958 to 1979 and Forest Hills Mennonite Church in Leola from 1979 to 1997. From 1997 to 2002, Lester was the first chaplain at Garden Spot Village in New Holland.

     Lester served Ohio Mennonite Conference and Atlantic Coast Mennonite Conference (ACC) in a variety of roles. He was part of the ACC leadership committee and served a year as conference moderator.

     Lester and his wife, Eileen Rutt Graybill, were married 62 years. The family includes three children and two grandchildren: Dave and his wife, Brenda Martin; Beth, her husband, Stock Weinstock, and her son, Julian Graybill Brubaker; and John, his wife, Vineeta Gupta, and their daughter, Nikeeta Gupta Graybill.

     Lester is also survived by a sister, Fern Brunner.

     Lester was born in Juniata County in 1931. He was the son of the late John and Bertha Graybill. The family moved to Elizabethtown when he was in seventh grade.

     Lester graduated from Elizabethtown High School in 1949. He earned bachelor’s degrees in Bible and education from Goshen (Ind.) College in 1954 and 1955.

     In August of 1955 he married Eileen, the daughter of J. L. and Mary Rutt, missionaries to Argentina.

     Lester earned a bachelor of divinity degree from Goshen Biblical Seminary (now Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary) in 1958. In 1969, during a leave of absence from the Orrville church, he earned a master of theology from Eastern Baptist Seminary (now Palmer Seminary) in suburban Philadelphia.

     Church members remember Lester as a gifted and effective Bible teacher. Friends describe him as a person who encouraged others and could get along with a wide range of people. His family remembers him as a loving husband, brother, father, grandpa and uncle.

     Lester was an avid reader and owned hundreds of books. He and Eileen traveled together to Argentina, Europe, the Middle East and many locations in North America.

     A viewing will be held 6-8 p.m. Friday (May 4) at Akron Mennonite Church, 1311 Diamond St., Akron, where Lester was a member. A memorial service will be held 4 p.m. Saturday (May 5) at the church.

     In lieu of flowers, friends are encouraged to contribute to Mennonite Mission Network, PO Box 370, Elkhart, IN 46515-0370, or the Benevolent Fund at Garden Spot Village, 433 S. Kinzer Ave., New Holland, PA 17557.

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