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Beth Ann Thompson Ostoich

April 03, 2010|By MARLO BARNHART
  • Beth (Thompson) Ostoich is shown in this picture taken in 1955 when she was a baby.
Submitted photo,

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Beth Ann Thompson Ostoich, who died March 19 at the age of 55. Her obituary was published in the March 24 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Beth Ostoich began her life under the watchful eye of God, spending the first 17 years of her life in Brazil with her missionary parents.

The fact that Beth was in His service for the rest of her life wasn't lost on her friends and family, hundreds of whom gathered this week for a memorial service in her honor.

Beth died March 19 at the age of 55 after a year-and-a-half battle with brain cancer.

After leaving Brazil, Beth accompanied her parents to the Midwest. She earned a degree in biblical studies from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

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Beth and her husband, Paul, became members of Tri-State Fellowship near Cearfoss in the early 1990s, when he joined the staff of Joy El Ministries in Greencastle, Pa., as director.

Beth joined the Tri-State Fellowship staff in 1999 as director of operations, a position she held until a malignant brain tumor forced her to leave last year.

Paul soon began volunteering with children at Tri-State Fellowship and was hired as pastor of family ministries there seven years ago.

"I've been at Tri-State for 16 years and they were already here," Lead Pastor Randy Buchman said. Randy said he also was a year ahead of Paul at Dallas Theological Seminary, but the two never met there.

Struggling to put Beth's contributions to the church into perspective, Randy said he can say with certainty that he has lost his right arm.

"Beth had such a good ability to put dreams into reality," Randy said. "She was as capable as anyone I've ever met."

Aaron Ziebarth, director of Joy El Ministries, agreed with that assessment.

"She had a unique gift of administration skills and was also very personable," Aaron said.

As a volunteer, Beth performed a variety of jobs, including marketing.

Linda Ellis said she has volunteered at Tri-State for many years and counted Beth among her friends.

"She had such strength as well as a great sense of humor," Linda said.

As an example, Linda described a conversation with Beth in which Beth couldn't remember the word "week" because of the growing tumor in her brain.

"What she did was say it was more than a day, but less than a month, so I knew she meant week," Linda said.

Oldest son Jedediah Ostoich said the hardest thing about losing his mother was that she began slipping away four or five months before she died.

"Mom and dad always understood that we were growing up and going on our way in the world," Jed said of himself and his younger brother and sister.

Jed got married five months ago. His new wife, Jocelyn, said Beth heartily welcomed her into the family.

Paul and Beth settled into the small community of Welsh Run, Pa., where Beth home-schooled her three children through fifth grade.

Beth also launched the Welsh Run Kids News, a publication designed for children that became very popular in town.

"The kids wrote it and read it," said Cedric Duffield of Welsh Run. "The paper served to draw our community together."

Fellow home-school teacher Pam Cradduck worked with Beth on the publication.

"Beth cared so much about others," Pam said.

Both Cedric and Pam said Beth's husband and others are hoping to keep the paper going if they can.

All was well until about a year and half ago, when Beth had a seizure while she was working at Tri-State. A series of tests confirmed she had a brain tumor, similar to the one that claimed U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy last year, Randy said.

An operation in December 2008 removed some of the tumor, but the prognosis was fairly certain that it in all likelihood would grow back. And it did.

Church members, family and friends took turns staying with Beth as her life ebbed away. But as colleague Sharon Ridenour said, it is Beth's life, not her death, that all will remember.

That was apparent at the March 31 memorial service, which filled the large church auditorium to overflowing with friends, family and young people. There was a lot of hugging, but few tears.

"She had a great ability to bring everybody in," Sharon said, describing Beth as a dream boss. "Beth always saw the big picture."

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