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Erb, Allen H., 1888-1975
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Allen H. Erb: bishop and administrator; born 9 December 1888 to Tilman Erb (9 November 1865-25 January 1929) and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Hess Erb (10 January 1865-3 June 1938) in Harvey County, Kansas. He was the second child and oldest son in a family of seven daughters and four sons. One of his younger brothers was Paul Erb. On 20 June 1912 he married Ethel Stella Cooprider (1 April 1888-28 Oct 1959); they had no children, but had several foster children. On 30 July 1964 he married Malinda Liechty (22 July 1888-7 January 1987). Allan died 3 April 1975.
He early pursued education beyond grade eight, attending the Bethel Academy for a term in 1904 and the Kansas State Agricultural College in Manhattan, Kansas in the fall of 1905. Allen had a conversion experience during revival meeting led by John E. Hartzler in early 1906, and joined the church at that time. After teaching in the Trousdale public school for a year, he attendedGoshen College in Indiana for a year, before again teaching at the Trousdale for two years. He then studied for two years at Hesston Academy and Bible School from 1910-1912.
On the recommendation of the Kansas-Nebraska Conference bishops, Allen Erb was ordained to pastoral ministry for the West Liberty Mennonite Church on 20 October 1912 by D. H. Bender. He and Stella farmed the land on which she had grown up until 1916. That year Erb was called to the superintendent of the new Mennonite Sanitarium in La Junta, Colorado. He served as the senior administrator and chaplain of the Mennonite Hospital and Sanitarium until 1952. He also served as administrator of the new community hospital in Lebanon, Oregon, 1948-1952, administrator of the new Pioneer Memorial Hospital in Rocky Ford, Colorado from 1954-1958, and administrator of the new hospital in Walsenburg, Colorado in 1963-1964. He was also active in establishing hospitals in Greensburg, Kansas, and Glennwood Springs and La Jara in Colorado. Later in life he also was a pioneer in promoting the Schowalter Villa retirement community in Hesston, Kansas.
Allen Erb was ordained to the office of bishop at La Junta, on 17 December 1939. As bishop he played a key role in the organization of Mennonite congregations in Limon, Denver and Pueblo in Colorado, and Perryton, Texas. He served pastorates in Kansas, Colorado, Oregon, Montana (Glendive, 1963), Nebraska (Milford, 1970) and Arkansas (1971).
In 1975 the Mennonite Board of Missions published Privileged to Serve, his autobiography recounting his long service in Mennonite health care, as well as a leader in the Mennonite Church. Seven community hospitals emerged from leadership provided by Allen H. Erb. Beyond his Bible courses at Hesston, and some extension courses in European history, Erb had no college-level training until he had retired. He was truly a gifted, self-taught administrator. Allen H. Erb is buried at the West Liberty Mennonite Church cemetery.