Aaron Donald Augsburger
December 21, 1925 – November 27, 2022
Aaron Donald Augsburger, of Harrisonburg, Virginia, died at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community surrounded by his family on November 27, 2022, at the age of 96.
Don was born on December 21, 1925, in Elida, Ohio to Clarence and Estella (Shenk) Augsburger, and married Martha Louise Kling Augsburger on June 5, 1948, in Paradise, Pennsylvania. Don and Martha had been married for 68 years when Martha died on February 18, 2016.
Don was a respected minister, educator, and leader in the Mennonite Church. His ministry and teaching influenced many. He received his education at Eastern Mennonite College (A.B.), Eastern Baptist Seminary (M.R.E.), and Temple University (D.Ed.)
He taught in several Christian schools at the elementary, jr. high and high school levels. He was the guidance counselor and later superintendent for two years at Bethany Christian High School. He taught in the field of Christian education at Eastern Mennonite University and in several seminaries. He became a professor in the field of Work of the Church. He also served as assistant to the dean at Goshen College Biblical Seminary.
Don was ordained as a minister in the Mennonite Church in 1951, and pastored in at least twelve settings including: East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church, Lancaster PA, North Goshen Mennonite Church, Goshen, IN, Park View Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg, VA, Bahia Vista Mennonite Church, Sarasota, FL, and Lancaster Mennonite Home, Lancaster, PA. He concluded his work as a minister in 2003 by serving as pastor at Marion Mennonite Church, Chambersburg, PA. While in Florida he was president of the Sarasota Ministerial Association. He also served as an ordained bishop in several Mennonite conferences.
Don served in church-wide leadership, including as moderator of the General Assembly of the Mennonite Church and as a member of the Mennonite Commission for Christian Education. He authored several books, Creating Christian Personality, published in 1966, Marriages that Work in 1984, A Pattern for Living, in 1993, and Reshaping Your Marriage in 1996. He authored a children’s book The World is a Beautiful Place, illustrated by his granddaughter Lara Ressler Horst (2007).
Don was a servant leader and a gentle and caring husband, father, brother, and friend. He is deeply loved by his family. His children have fond memories of his many pranks, from short- sheeting the beds to dressing in disguise to surprise them at public events. He greatly enjoyed writing and reciting poetry. He was driven by his desire to learn and improve, closely following current events and teaching himself baking, clock repair, watercolor, oil painting, and how to play the clarinet, guitar, organ, and the pan flute. He also never refused a piece of pie!
Don is survived by three children – Phyllis Anne Ressler (husband, Everett Ressler) of Harrisonburg, VA, Patricia Louise Augsburger (husband, Wilbur Ressler) of Richmond, CA, Don Richard Augsburger (wife, Jane Rutt) of Alexandria, VA, and five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He is survived by two brothers – Myron S. (Esther) Augsburger of Harrisonburg, VA and David W. (Leann) Augsburger of Clairemont, CA, and his sister – Anna Mary (Milton) Good of Elizabethtown, PA. He was preceded in death by his brothers, S. Dan (Garneita) Augsburger and Fred E. (Carolyn) Augsburger.
His memorial service will be held on December 16, 2022, at 4:00 pm at Park View Mennonite Church, 1600 College Ave, Harrisonburg, VA 22802. The service will also be available virtually at www.pvmchurch.org/donaugsburger
Inurnment will be at Bahia Vista Mennonite Church, Sarasota, FL. Messages to the family or a tribute to Don can be submitted at www.donaugsburger.com. Any gifts in memory of Don should be sent to the Mennonite Central Committee, 21 South 12th Street, PO Box 500, Akron, Pennsylvania 17501-0500.
You are welcome to share thoughts or memories about Don.
Christen Blore-Chaplain Palmer (formerly Eastern Baptist) Theological Seminary
Don’s seminary community has recently learned of his passing. We offer heartfelt condolence to the family and offer thanksgiving for the decades of Don’s faithful servanthood. The ripple effects of his life and ministry surely cannot be numbered.
I’ll always remember Don as a kind, caring Christ-natured man, always ready to engage in conversation, always genuinely interested in how I, and others, were doing. He will be especially missed in the VMRC community where he spent the last years of his life.
Vernon and Dorothy Jantzi
We remember and appreciate Don for many things, but we particularly appreciated his pastoral leadership at Park View Mennonite Church when we moved back to Harrisonburg in the mid 70s. He played a special role in the church life of our family, including our children becoming members of Park View Mennonite Church. Thanks, Don, for being a faithful shepherd.
Beverly Stauffer (Augsburger)
I appreciated Don’s inquisitive mind and intellect. Just this last year, we had a long discussion about why groups of people (such as the Mennonites) have gravitated to strong (male) figures who have dictated behaviors -such as dress codes. He drew from his research findings at Temple and his years of working within the church. It was a lively and fun discussion. On another note, many years ago before I became an Augsburger family member, I knew of Don’s leadership in the Sarasota area. The top city/county public health officer there told me about how Don was the first of the local church leaders to join in planning the community response to a new disease-HIV/AIDS. We will miss Don’s mind and empathy.
Paul D. Shenk
I was born and went to church with the talented Augsburger family. I always admired the stature and abilities of Don and his brothers and sister. Don moved away, but I always followed the family with great interest. They put “Elida” on the map of the world! I am a “short Shenk” still in Elida, with few talents, but have always marveled how Clarence and Stella Augsburger who also lived in the country, were able to have children of world wide fame? Then, I remembered the parable of the talents! Don, rest in peace. My condolences to his family and to Anna Mary and Myron. Myron and Esther, hopefully our paths may cross at the Dairy Queen again in Park View!
In late June of 1958, Don was the guest speak at the Elmira Mennonite Church, Ontario and observed me leading the singing at the opening of the Sunday School hour. He invite me to be the song leader for his mid-summer tent campaigne in Centerville Long Island New York, arranged by a local Mennonite Church and a Methodist Church (if I remember correctly). At the end of the week of meetings he encouraged me to attend Eastern Mennonite College. I had planned to attend an agriculture college near home. That July I struggled very much with his invitation and decided to go to EMC. I do not know what Don saw in me that led him to make the invitation, or if he was an recruitment agent for EMC, but without his double invitations to be song leader and attend EMC my life work would have been very different. I became an ordained Mennonite misister, pastoring in serveral churches, because of his invitations him.
These last couple years I was privileged to talk to Don frequently in the halls at VMRC where we visit the Wellness Center frequently, and he always asked about my mother, who died about a year ago. We compared notes and he would often recall how my father, who served with Don as a deacon at North Goshen, had talked him into wearing a bow tie like he did. 🙂 I was blessed also to be baptized by Don, called to the principal’s office at Bethany one time for an embarrassing situation, and traveled many miles laughing with his daughter Phyllis, as my sister drove us all to Bethany together (carpooling).
Marion Mennonite Church
When we heard of the death of Don, it triggered wonderful memories for those of us at Marion Mennonite who were privileged to get to know your father and brother. Even though it has been a long time ago, we still have a fondness for Don that puts a smile in our hearts when we walk by his photo on our wall honoring the pastors who have served our congregation. We benefitted from and enjoyed his wise leadership, and we all remember Don with fondness.
We remember his love of poetry. We remember how he always seemed to have at least one story, many times from his own life, in every sermon. He had such a rich personal history to draw on. We remember joyful baptisms. We remember the hospitality Don and Martha showed us in their home. Don was such a kind and gentle man – his love of Jesus and of scripture was evident.
In short, we see Don and Martha as a wonderful gift to our congregation. It was only a short time but they had a big impact. We thank you for sharing them with us!
Don Augsburger towers among the mentors in my life. While pastoring at North Goshen Mennonite, he welcomed me as a seminary student to serve as his assistant and shepherded me into pastoral ministry. As Paul to Timothy, he walked beside me as a model and teammate with encouragement, guidance, and trust. Thank you, God, for my dear brother Don.
I enjoyed serving with Don on the staff at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. He was a kind, gentle man. May he rest in peace.
Any gifts in memory of Don should be sent to:
Mennonite Central Committee
PO Box 500
Akron, PA 17501-0500
or donate online: