PHOTO BY CHRISTINA McCUNE | DGKN
From left bottom clockwise: Margaret Himes, Lillie Steffen, Virgene Steffen, Eunice Paul, Ruth Bontrager and Ella Amstutz.
SUGAR CREEK TWP. They laughed and hugged and teased each other. When six women who call themselves the “Sonnenberg Girls” had a unique reunion earlier this month at the Dutch Kitchen, one would never have guessed that some of them hadn’t seen each other in years. The reserved room was full of life and laughter at lunchtime May 6 as the ladies caught up.
Half of the group of close-knit friends live locally. Ella Amstutz lives in Kidron, Virgene Steffen, a retired schoolteacher, lives in Paint Township and Lillie Steffen lives in Dalton. Eunice Paul came in from North Carolina and Ruth Bontrager and Margaret Himes drove in from Logan and Sunbury, Ohio, respectively.
In a true show of friendship, they picked up easily and quickly where they left off years ago. Some hadn’t seen each other since 1994 and for some it was even longer.
The ladies – now vivacious in their 80s – had grown up in Sonnenberg Mennonite Church and attended one-room schoolhouses and Kidron Elementary. They became close in church and also in school that the church had started. Amstutz laughed when she said because of the Sonnenberg school they attended that’s why they call themselves the “Sonnenberg Girls.”
Recently, a couple of them began talking and wondering when they were going to get “the girls” together. The day the group met up happened to be during National Nurses Week and both Ruth and Eunice had graduated from the Massillon School of Nursing.