Hilda Carper, founding director of Hilda’s Place, dies at 94

Hilda Weber Carper, 94, died peacefully at home in Evanston on December 22, 2021. She was born on March 4, 1927 to Reuben and Eva Carper, the third of four children, on a farm in Lancaster County, PA. She credited her teacher mother and Mennonite Church education as important educational and spiritual influences in her life.

After her family moved to southeastern Virginia, she completed high school and attended Eastern Mennonite College for a year. She finished her college degree at Goshen College, Goshen, IN, in 1950, after taking time off to teach in Virginia and Detroit, MI. She then accepted an assignment to write the church curriculum for children in Basel, Switzerland, with the Mennonite Central Committee from 1953-1957.

From his contacts among Mennonite expatriates in Europe came an invitation from John Miller to become part of the intentional Christian community that forms at the Reba Place Fellowship in Evanston. But it turned out that her skills were more needed at a sister church in downtown Chicago, so she volunteered at Church of Hope in Chicago’s West Side Christian Parish as a teacher, choir director, and eventual pastoral assistant at Chicago. Rev. Julius Belser. Urban renewal forced the church to close in 1966, when the Belsers and Hilda moved to Reba Place. There Hilda organized the Reba Day Nursery (now known as the Reba Early Learning Center) at the church house at 727 Reba Place.

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