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100-Year-Old Fan Honored

BY OLIVIA JOHANAN (’11)

Not many people live to see a whole century, but Joe Yoder has. Yoder turned 100 years old in February and celebrated his birthday at a Pilots home game, which he drove to himself. The seasoned fan was honored by the basketball team as an honorary coach, and received a basketball saying “Happy 100th/Congratulations Joe Yoder.”

Yoder and his wife, Joyce (Manges ’49), of almost 60 years, make the trek from Elkhart to the Gates Gymnasium for every home game. Originally in a family concrete business and from Johnson Country, Iowa, Yoder came to know Bethel through Joyce. Years later, three of their four kids chose to go to Bethel, including Jared, who played on the men’s basketball team back in the ’70s with Head Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Lightfoot (’78).

Lightfoot values his relationship with Yoder. He finds it amazing to know someone who watched him play in college and continues to support him and the team. Lightfoot says he always makes a point to talk to Yoder before the games and to get his input.

“It’s been a 40-year relationship. You don’t have those types of relationships anymore,” says Lightfoot.

It amazes Lightfoot that at Yoder’s age, he still avidly attends the games though he has never actually played the sport himself.

“Basketball has always been something I’m interested in; it’s exciting,” says Yoder with a bright smile on his face.

Yoder not only fills his time with watching basketball, he also stays active in his community and reading his Bible. He spends time helping out at Beulah Missionary Church in Elkhart, and in earlier years, playing golf.

In his 100 years, life has taught him some very important lessons and one of those is to take care of himself. He also advises young people always to “ask the Lord to direct you.”