The Rev. Dana Paul Hartong, age 81, of Sturgis, passed away unexpectedly Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010, at his home.
He was born March 25, 1929, in Uniontown, Pa., a son of the late Levi and Edna (Uhrig) Hartong.
On Aug. 29, 1948, he married Valette Eppley in Wabash, Ind., where they resided until moving to Roann, Ind., in 1955, and then to Sturgis in 1969.
After a farm accident in 1954 in Lagro, Ind., Dana returned to and graduated from Manchester College with a teaching degree. He taught in Gilead, Talma, Akron and Wabash, Ind., and in Centreville.
He was called into the ministry in 1959 and pastored for the next 44 years, serving Center Chapel First Brethren Church and Wabash First Brethren Church in Indiana; and Florence Church of the Brethren and New Hope Community Church in Michigan. This ministry extended to the St. Joseph County Grange Fair in 1972, when he founded the Fair Youth Rally on Sunday evenings, posting such speakers as Nicky Cruz, Rosie Greer, Rex Humbard, Tom Lester (Eb from Green Acres) and Tom Netherton.
In 1982, Dana and Val founded the ministry New Hope for Broken Marriages and co-authored a book by the same title, which continues to touch lives throughout the world.
In the ’70s and ’80s, Dana sold farm equipment and buildings. As a lifetime farmer, he had a special joy in working with horses.
Surviving are his wife, Valette; children Sue (Herman) Behrends of Sturgis, Beth (David) Behrends of Three Rivers, Brad (Christine) Hartong of Centreville and Jayne (Jim) Hover of San Antonio; 18 grandchildren, Chad (Rebecca) Behrends, Allissa (Tim) Bowers, Jonathan (Joy) Behrends, Leigh Anne Behrends, Jana (Sean) Guise, Jared (Katie) Behrends, Megan (Joshua) Gremaux, Marianne Behrends, Joshua (Crystal) Behrends, Jesse Behrends, Joseph Behrends, Jason (Heather) Hartong, Adam (Veronica) Hartong, Cheryl (Eric) Byler, Joy Hartong, Joel (Jessica) Hartong, Aaron (Marie) Hartong, and Rebecca (Joel) Rouch; 27 great-grandchildren; three sisters, Nedra Workinger, Mary (Earl) Mansfield and Ruth Ann Hartong.
He was preceded in death by his parents; a granddaughter, Elisabeth Jo “Libby” Behrends; an infant sister, Nadine Hartong; and two brothers-in-law, Jim Workinger and Russell Eppley.
The family will receive friends and relatives from 2-8 p.m. Saturday at New Hope Community Church, 64451 Shimmel Road, Sturgis. Funeral services celebrating the life of the Rev. Dana Paul Hartong will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday at New Hope Community Church, with Pastors Steve Wilcox and Kevin Mitchell officiating.
Interment and graveside services will follow in Nottawa Cemetery.
The family suggests memorial donations be directed to the New Hope Community Church. Envelopes are available at the church or at Hackman Family Funeral Homes Rosenberg Chapel, which is in charge of the arrangements.