Amish community mourns loss of minister who owned organic dairy

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 June 2015 at 12:00 am

Martin Yoder collapsed in field on Tuesday

Photo by Tom Rivers – Yoder Dairy on Murdock Road in Ridgeway is pictured this morning, a day after farm owner Martin Yoder died in a field of an apparent heart attack.

RIDGEWAY – In 2001, Martin Yoder and his family moved from Holmes County in Ohio to join a new Amish community in the Lyndonville area.

Yoder was a respected leader in the community, one of the church ministers. He also ran an organic dairy farm, selling milk and eggs.

He was out doing field work on Tuesday afternoon when he collapsed and died from an apparent heart attack. Mr. Yoder was 58.

His death has the Amish community in Lyndonville and back home in Ohio in mourning. About 500 people are expected for Yoder’s funeral on Friday morning.

There are 171 Amish residents in the Lyndonville community. About 500 Amish are expected for Yoder’s funeral at 9 a.m. Friday at the Vernon Yoder residence on Waterbury Road.

“It’s a final tribute to the person to have 500 people come to the funeral,” Vernon Yoder said this morning.

He and his family and friends have been busy preparing for the funeral.

Vernon and Martin Yoder are not related. The first Amish settled in Lyndonville in 1998. There are now 35 families in the local community.

Martin was one of three ministers in the Amish church. He was ordained in 2004. He ran the dairy farm with his two sons, who are in their early 20s.

Martin Yoder operated a farm that was strictly organic and didn’t use chemical-based pesticides for weed and pest control, Vernon Yoder said.

Martin Yoder was out in a field Tuesday, spreading fish oil on a grass field. Vernon Yoder and others in the Amish community have tried to retrace Martin’s steps. They followed the horse and wagon tracks in the field.

They could see that a rein broke free that tied horses to the wagon. The tongue of the wagon had fallen down in the dirt.

Yoder suspects the horses were spooked. Martin was able to get them under control. He was about 3/8 mile from his barn and was walking the unhitched horses back to the barn. With about 400 yards to go, he collapsed.

The horses came trotting to barn and Martin’s sons went and found him moments later lying down, still wearing his hat.

“It’s a shock,” Vernon Yoder said. “It’s a reminder when things like this happen that it’s a wakeup call. As soon as we are born we could die. We should ask ourselves if I had been the one, am I ready to meet God?”

There will be a public viewing at Martin Yoder’s residence from 6 to 9 p.m. today and 1 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Vernon Yoder said the Amish community has rallied behind Martin’s family, helping to prepare for the public viewing and keep up with the farm work.

Others have also helped ready Vernon Yoder’s property for the funeral.

“God is looking down seeing people help this family,” Vernon Yoder said. “We get busy with our work and this reminds us where our priorities should be and that’s helping our fellow man and being there for each other.”

Martin Yoder and his wife Ada married in 1984 and have five children.

Vernon said Martin’s loss will leave a void in the community.

“Everyone will have to bear more on our shoulders because he’s missing, but we’ll get through it with God’s help,” Vernon Yoder said.