Service unit leader, 26, dies in car accident

Jan 20, 2017 by and

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Hannah Hochstetler, co-leader of the Mennonite Mission Network Service Adventure unit in Jackson, Miss., died Jan. 19 in a car accident near Roanoke, Va. She was 26.

Hannah Hochstetler, second from right, co-led the Jackson, Miss., Service Adventure unit with her husband, Caleb, right. With them are volunteers Niklas Kugler, Valerie Haupt, Jenessa Woodrich and Susannah Epp. — Mennonite Mission Network

Hannah Hochstetler, second from right, co-led the Jackson, Miss., Service Adventure unit with her husband, Caleb, right. With them are volunteers Niklas Kugler, Valerie Haupt, Jenessa Woodrich and Susannah Epp. — Mennonite Mission Network

She and her husband, Caleb, 25, were returning to Jackson, traveling south on I-81 when a vehicle crossed the median and struck their car head-on. He was transported to Roanoke Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries, where he continues to recover.

The driver of the other vehicle, Monte Zuck, 72, of Oklahoma City, Okla., was taken to Roanoke Memorial Hospital for treatment. Zuck has been charged with reckless driving.

Hannah Hochstetler is the daughter of Michael and Beth Grieser of Goshen, Ind. Caleb Hochstetler is the son of Ken and Sue Hoch­stetler, also of Goshen.

Caleb and Hannah met at Goshen College, of which both are graduates. They married in 2014. Hannah was a communications major with a Spanish minor, and Caleb majored in informatics and biology. He also has received a master of business administration degree from Eastern Mennonite University.

Together, they have a wide community of family and friends. Caleb’s home congregation is Blooming Glen (Pa.) Mennonite Church; Hannah’s is East Goshen Mennonite Church. Together, they attended Ridgeway Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, Va., and after beginning as Service Adventure leaders, Open Door Mennonite Church in Jackson.

As Service Adventure leaders, the Hochstetlers lived with and mentored a group of four young adult participants. They provided a safe space for them to process their experiences, develop their faith and discover their vocations. In addition to this work, Hannah managed an Etsy shop called HH Design Creative, where she designed and sold cards.

Jenessa Woodrich, a Service Adventure participant, wrote about Hochstetler in memory: “You had a heart of gold, a servant’s heart, always thought about others first, would do anything and everything to make others happy. Hannah, you were the light in a dark world. You loved Jesus and you were one of his disciples.”

“Hannah was a truly beautiful soul,” said Susan Nisly, director of Service Adventure. “I met Hannah and Caleb a year ago and will never forget the smile that lit up her face when I told her we were opening a new unit in Jackson. It was at that moment that I knew they were going to be a wonderful addition to Service Adventure.”

Nisly described Hochstetler as creative and a natural at relating with people.

“I enjoyed working with her and seeing the way that she entered the role of mentor with the participants,” Nisly said. “They loved her, and you could see that in the way they interacted with each other and truly enjoyed one another.”

Caleb Hochstetler was released from the hospital Jan. 26. Hannah Hochstetler’s funeral has been set for 2 p.m. Feb. 4 at College Mennonite Church in Goshen, and the visitation will be 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Feb. 3 East Goshen Mennonite Church.


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