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Prof retires to hunt treasure

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Fresno (Cal.) Pacific University history professor for 44 years, Paul Toews, son of MB pastor J.B. Toews and Nettie Unruh, retired in July. Toews is the author of Mennonites in American Society, 1930–1970. At least 14 of his history students have gone on to complete doctorates. While leading 15 Mennonite Heritage tours to Ukraine, Toews copied 200,000 pages of Tsarist and Soviet records for the Center for MB Studies, Fresno, creating the largest collection of its kind in the U.S. In retirement, he’ll continue leading tours and mining historical treasures.


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Linda Gear July 5, 2016 - 02:27

Good article. My parents also escaped Russia during the 1920’s, and they did not speak to us about the goings on, before they left.
They spoke to each other in low german, but they decided not to teach us the language, as I believe they felt that it would impair our “English,” eduacation. I could make out some of what was being said, but not too much!
My mother was born in 1917, and her family was almost decimated by the time she was five.
She was “taken,” then by well meaning Mennonites. I loved my grandparents, and I know they must have done everything possible to give her a good life, in Canada.
I’m thinking they did not realize she was traumatized and never really bonded to them.Both her and them probably spent many hours wondering why they never really bonded to each other, and it’s only now, we can understand and speculate the many reasons for this.
Mother, had so many great qualities, but her personality could change in a heartbeat!
She could be violent and unpredictable at a moment’s notice, and as children, we either lived outside, or learned to dodge her blows.
My father kept his distance, and allowed her to rule the roost. He retreated, in self defence.
I just read “Daphne Esau Kamphuis,” article in the Mennonite Historical Society of BC’s “Roots and Branches.”
Great article as well, she nailed it! We carry with us, the trauma of our parent’s generation. The more we can learn about our past, I feel, we will begin to heal ourselves.
So my mother’s adoptive mother’s maiden name was “Toews,” and looking at Paul Toew’s picture, I can see my Granny, especially all that hair! Granny was quick witted, you couldn’t get much past her! She had a loving heart, and tried to reach out to us. She outlived her husband by 20 years, and spent most of her time crocheting and reading. I wish I could speak to her now, as I have so many questions about Mother’s family.
I am passing this to my grandchildren, as they may one day find, the other part of our family, for better or for worse.


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