Memories of Jay
Jay was a wonderful professor, friend, and mentor. Now that I am a teacher myself, I'm even more impressed that it always felt like he had time to talk. I loved taking his class, and I hope I can pass on a small part of that experience to my own students.
Jay B. Landis was my Public Speaking professor back in 1981. He was excellent in what he did and how he communicated. He helped me to gain confidence in public speaking. He was a man of integrity and took a real interest in his students.
Gayle S. Williams
Jason and I remember Jay B. fondly. It was my privilege to have him as a professor and then, briefly, to work in the Language and Literature department with him before he retired. We celebrated his fifty years of teaching at EMU during that time, and notes flew in from all over the globe with fond memories. I remember Jay B.'s teaching from a Shakespeare class, as he read and recited some of the Bard's best passages. He would assign parts for each of us to read, but I noticed he would often take the best parts--Hamlet and Lady Macbeth! Now, from the perspective of a professor, I suspect he selected those parts so as to be sure that the particular passage he wanted to discuss would be interpreted appropriately. I am also sure he enjoyed reading them immensely. I channel Jay B. a little bit each time I read something wonderful aloud with my students.
I was blessed to have several classes with Jay during my time at EMC (EMU). He helped me overcome my intimidation with speeches which helped me as a driver education instructor. when ever I looked out and saw my students tuning out, I would remember Jay's encouragement to project and be more animated in my presentations. I also enjoyed my time with him in the Shakespeare class he taught. He made Shakespeare come alive. He brought much comfort to me during the British Isle/Ireland cross cultural trip when I learned that my grandfather had died while I was out of the country. I always think about him and smile and hope to inspire my kids love of the written language as much as he inspired me.
This is not so much a memory of Jay, but a memory that continues today, that happened while Jay, and the rest of the family was away, I think on sabbatical in 1975-6. During that time your house was rented to 4 maybe 5 EMU women. One of them, Ruthie Dutcher was engaged to Ajay Massey, a student from India. Ruthie was learning to make Indian food, and invited myself and another fellow to join them at your house one evening for an Indian food dinner. We had so much fun around the table that evening that we decided to do it every week and take turns cooking. We did that for the rest of the year, and then continued to meet in other apartments after your return. As time passed the 6-7 single persons turned into 4 married couples over the years. Those 4 married couples still meet at least monthly, and often weekly for dinner. The 4 couples had 11 children and now the 3rd generation of “Supper Club” has 16 members. Because of the number of people we only meet several times as an entire group throughout the year. But when the 2nd generation was growing up at home, there were 19 people that came together for dinner once a month. I am the only original Supper Club member left, but the 4 couples have been together more than 40 years. We have traveled to all of our home areas, to the beach numerous times and many other places that bring back so many fond and funny memories. The last member to retire of the 1st generation is doing so in October and we are already looking forward to doing more traveling together. Post COVID of course. All this because you all took a sabbatical and rented your home to some EMU women who decided to have a couple of guys up for dinner one evening many years ago. On a more personal note, I always enjoyed singing along side Jay in the tenor section of the church choir. He was an excellent sight reader, and helped me along with some difficult parts of songs. I especially remember Jay sitting beside me and helping me sing Randall Thompson’s “Ye Shall Have a Song” the first time I sang it. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said that, “There is meaning in every journey, that is unknown to the traveler“. My prayer for you all is that as you grieve, remember and celebrate Jay’s life, that you would find meaning in your journey and then one day say, it was worth it! Blessings Edgar & Carmen
Peggy, Virginia and I both had wonderful memories of interactions with Jay (and with you as well) at the old EMC and beyond. Virginia, of course, had her English connections. And we both had fond memories of spending a day with a cross-cultural group Jay was leading in England when our daughter Sue was a part of the group, sometime in the mid to late 80s. I, of course, identify with your loss.
It's very difficult to include all the ways that Jay B. influenced me because he has been a steady, sturdy presence at EMU for so long. I'll just name a three: 1. As a college instructor for my major in English, Jay encouraged me to think about pursuing a PhD and coming back to EMU to teach. Though I'm not teaching English, I have been at EMU for 27 years. I doubt that I'll match Jay's record of 50+ years, but I hope to keep contributing and taking teaching seriously in the same way that he did all the way to retirement. 2. In my first teaching assignment at EMU, Jay was the instructor of record. He taught me about how to construct a syllabus, how to design and assess learning, how to be a faculty member, and many other things. But, he gave me complete freedom to explore and develop my own teaching style. That experience helped me know that I wanted to pursue teaching in higher education. 3. Jay has been a model of care not only for students and colleagues but also for the community. I watched him engage, give, support, and work for many causes. And, I was glad to reconnect with him over the past few years as a fellow board member for Patchwork Pantry, a local food pantry. Jay will certainly be missed!
Adam Gonzalez Jr
Unfortunately, I never knew Jay in an academic setting. I had the pleasure of meeting him in a somewhat random way, when I would come to EMU as a jewelry vendor in the Campus Center. Jay found me there some years back, and became a loyal customer of my semi-annual tabling event. I was always delighted to see Jay. Aside from his sharp eye for particularly attractive stone pendants, one of which he almost invariably chose to purchase for his wife, he was such a warm and easy person to talk to. I regret I didn't have much time to get to know him; I only just now learned of his passing in the EMU magazine and was truly saddened. Despite my brief encounters with Jay, I sensed a special quality in him, one that is borne out in the many testimonials here. I truly wish I had taken more time to learn more about him, his academic career, and the wife he so obviously cherished. Thanks for sharing a small part of your life with me, Jay. If a near stranger such as I can be touched by your death, I can only imagine the loss and grief your friends and family must be feeling. God bless you all.
So many happy memories of Jay. How did he always know me and what I'd been up to? And how did he do it for all his former students and friends? As a teacher I aspired to be like Jay Landis to make every single student in class feel he or she was important and mattered to the teacher. Thank you, Jay, for all the lesson of life you have given us.
We had Jay for our Public Speaking class and other numerous activities on campus that we participated in. He was a wonderful mentor to us and all who knew him. We always felt he was someone easy to talk to or to share something with and knew we would be encouraged. His kind, caring and gentle manner gathered us all into his fold. What a strong role model he was! He'll be missed.
Craig and Bonnie (Barnhart) Shoemaker -EMC classes of 1975 and 1978
One of the best professors I had the privilege to study under. EMU 1999. Very compassionate and genuinely nice individual. It is with great satisfaction that I can say I knew JB. He always had time to stop and chat. Even after you left his class he would still remember you and ask about how things were going. It was a honor to have gotten to know JB. It is with sadness we say goodbye to JB.
What wonderful memories I have of J. B. Landis during the 23 years I worked at EMU post office. Their was hardly a day that we didn't have the priviledge of seeing his smiling face in our office. When in season, our office always had a vase of his beautiful roses. To Peggy and your family, you were the love of his life. We all have so many memories to cherish of this special person.
Carl B. Harman
We remember with appreciation and affection Jay B. Landis' fifty years of loving service to EMHS and EMC/EMU--and the friendships that extended beyond his retirement. Those of us teaching in the department now take particular pleasure in remembering the post-retirement book launch he and Peggy shared on campus in April 2013--he for VERSE ASSIGNMENTS and she for KITCHENARY. That occasion illustrated their deep, joyful, and creative partnership as well as Jay's abiding commitment to blessing others with beautifully rendered words. "Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; Good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest.... Find a good spouse, you have a good life--and even more: the favor of God!" (Proverbs 18:20, 22) Many of us found a good teacher, a good colleague, and a good friend in Jay B. Landis, and we mourn along with Peggy. May light perpetual shine on him.
EMU Language and Literature Faculty
I never met a more extraordinary people-person than Jay. My last year at EMU was his swan song, too, and that last semester he had a granddaughter whose mother and grandmother he had also taught. That is amazing enough, but Jay being Jay, he recalled their maiden names of both mother and grandmother with only a moment to think about it! In normal circumstances, of course, Jay would have legions of mourners to celebrate his life. I was just thinking of him, too, because 1) we had a bunch of plants in our department suite to take home for the summer, and 2) I’ve been grading Shakespeare projects. Memory Eternal!
Andrew Harvey (Grove City College, formerly of the EMU language and literature department)
I remember with love Jay B. Landis, my esteemed colleague, faithful and fun-loving friend (along with wife Peggy) to Christopher and me, and "Mennonite grandpa" to Effie. We are among the many grateful people whom Jay encouraged and led by example in a teaching career that spanned 50 years at EMHS and EMU. Thanks be to God for Uncle Jay. Blessed be his memory!
Peggy, I am so very sorry to hear about Jay's passing. As many have noted, he was such a wonderfully kind and thoughtful man. I would not have even known either of you had it not been for the cross cultural semester to England in 1986. I am so very grateful for that experience. You both were so amazing on that trip. I have many memories of sitting around the table at meals, in the "classroom", and on the motor coach as we traveled around the country. I ran into Jay a couple of years ago, when we were in Harrisonburg to visit our kids who were at EMU. I am so grateful for that brief encounter. And as many have noted in their memories, Jay remembered me. After 25 years. I also have fond memories of being on campus at EMU with both Jill and Ann. Blessings to you all as you navigate these days. I am sorry for your loss, and pray for God to bless you all with peace and joy in the midst of your sorrow. Sandy (King) Harnish
Sandy (King) Harnish
Jay was a wonderful Mentor when I attended Eastern Mennonite. I took part in a speech class that he presided over. I tried for 20 minutes to convince him that I was a natural public speaker and had done many performances as an actor and I really didn't need a speech class. He smiled quietly and said to me that he needed to see me in action. So we made a deal. The deal was I would give him one week in class and if he felt there was nothing he could teach me then he would just give me an A and let me move on past the course. At the end of the first three classes I went over to him and he looked at me. After a moment or two said to me, "You are right, you have a natural talent. Most people doing public speaking have to learn to be more animated and use gestures to get their point across. You, however, need to learn more control and not move around so much when you are doing public speaking. I can help you be more deliberate in your communication oh, so I really want you to continue and finish the class." He works me very hard during that semester and I probably didn't get as much from any other class as I did from his. What he taught me and mentored me with has served me all the way through my careers. He knew how much I appreciated him. Better to saying I loved him. Can't wait to see him again. I'm sorry that he's gone from here for now but I know we all look forward to Heavenly reunions with Jay and the Lord! May God comfort and bless you until then.
Samuel Steven Comer I
Jay taught me to appreciate modern poetry when I wasn't sure I would. He also gave me great joy in studying the era of Reason and Romanticism. But what I'll remember most is his reading of poetry and his singing tenor in the Park View choir. He was a beloved teacher and a gentle lover of beauty.
I will remember Jay B for his genuine kind soul, his skill with roses, his voice and his many talents. My heart aches for your loss Peggy.
I did not know Jay except at the Sunday morning coffee hour at Park View services. He was always a friendly presence with a bright smile and cheerful greeting.
Dear Peggy and family, Jim and I were present at Jay's memorial service in real time! It was a beautiful service and trust that you have sensed the clouds of supporters who were there with you at that time! Although I do not know how or when I first knew who Jay was, but it seems I've always known who he was. He was not one of my classroom teachers, but after moving to this community, I simply knew that he was my friend! He would always greet me/us at EMU events and engage in conversation. I felt at certain challenging parts of my life in the recent years that he knew, understood, and cared! I think my last encounter with him was in the last year at the Wellness Center at VMRC and he said that you and he were not quite ready to move here, but in my mind, I thought, I will be happy to have them here when they do decide to move here (to VMRC). To you, Peggy, I have special thanks for the way you hired me and supported me in those early days of my re-entry into the U.S. (after many years in Ethiopia) and was in cultural shock for a lot of that time when I was International Student Advisor. Thank you to you and I am holding you in my thoughts and prayers as you grieve the loss of dear Jay and adjust to new ways of living in the days to come. Peace and good good to you, Peg (and Jim) Engle.
I was so sorry to hear of J. B.'s passing! I had JB for Humainities in my first semester of college at EMC in 1983-'84. I also had him forSoeech Communication class in Fall of 1985. I learned ALOT from him in both classes! He ALWAYS was so very kind,helpful & encouraging! I always felt comfortable talking to him if I had a problem in any of fhis classes,and he always was willing to help! He helped me several times outside of his classes,and was aleats concerned fir my well- being as I struggled with health issues while in college. He will indeed always be remembered fir his kindness & caring ! Prayers to all of his family in the coming days,weeks,& months! Amy Raezer '87
What a special English teacher at EMHS--as well as Senior Class sponsor! We all loved Mr. Landis!! Some of us will never forget his incredible reading aloud, which also helped us develop a love of reading. Likely, we would have never read any Shakespeare before he introduced him in our senior years! He also accompanied the Boys' Octet on their "tours." And also, there was the famed Oral Ex class! It didn't matter how we "screwed up," he was always affirming!! Thanks to Mr Landis for all we learned through his classes and his life! Our condolences to Peggy, Jill, Ann and families!! Peace!
Wendell & Lois Maust
I was always happy to see Jay and Peggy on my occasional visits to Harrisonburg. I last saw them at my dad's (Samuel Horst) 100th birthday last summer. Jay somehow always remembered me by name and with a big smile no matter how infrequently we connected. My best thoughts to the family. Hannah
Hannah (Horst) Schertz
Dear Peggy, Ann, and Jill, I am saddened to hear of your loss. Peggy, you and Jay were always a welcome presence at my parent's celebrations, whether at the Old Furnace Road place when my mom was still around or at VMRC in later years. What a strong little community that colloquy class was! My whole family looked forward to seeing you, and valued your and Jay's steady, invariably warm presence in our lives. Ann and Jill, I enjoyed seeing your beautiful partner/family in the pictures. Jill, do you ever have a couple kids that are spitting images. I also noticed that your smile has not changed one single bit since high school. Ann, your dad was proud of your accomplishments and was always happy to catch me up on things. It would be fun to reconnect with each of you one of these days. Presumably we'll be able to travel again eventually, and I travel from California to Harrisonburg a couple of times a year. Take good care, Landis family, as you grieve the loss of your husband and father, while celebrating the knowledge that lived his life in a way that made the lives of many others a bit nicer. With love, Carol firstname.lastname@example.org
I knew Jay and Peggy Landis as the parents of my high school friends Ann and Jill and from church, where he sang so beautifully; I never had him as a teacher. So why does it feel like he was such a familiar, good friend? Thousands of people must have this same feeling. He was one of the warmest, friendliest people I have ever known. He will surely remain a strong presence in his family always.
It was a privilege to be both a student and colleague of Jay B. The only class I took with him was a Humanities course in S106 with a least a hundred other students. Decades later he still knew my name. This memory of my name made me feel special though my experience was not unique. His graciousness and attentive listening left a lasting impression on me. My deep sympathy to Peggy, Jill, Ann and entire family at the loss of this dear man.
If EMU had royalty, it would be J. B. Landis. Deeply committed to his Mennonite faith and EMU, J. B., who with his impeccable credentials could have played “gatekeeper,” was instead welcoming and accepting. It was a pleasure to have studied with him.
Anna Versluis, EMU ‘97
Dear Peggy and family My condolences to you! I was surprised to hear of Jay Landis' death because to me he always seemed forever young. I grew up in western New York, one of six children. We all attended EMHS our last two years of high school. Jay taught each one of us either at EMHS or EMC, and he had a way of remembering each one of us. It would not be unusual for him to ask me about my siblings by name and their whereabouts. He was amazing. He will be missed at the free clinic where we both volunteered. May you find peace in these remembrances of him.
Gail Jantzi Brunk
Last year you, Peggy, and Jay met me in unplanned places around town. Five days in a row we met unexpectedly. The question each time we met was where will we see each other the next time That was such an unexpected thing, I still smile when I think of it. Ruthann Brunk
Ruthann M Brunk
My first year with EMU's Washington Community Scholars' Center (1999) involved scheduling theater outings for our students. I called Arena Stage, a large main-stage theater in DC, and identified myself as from EMU. The person in the box office, taking my call, asked me how JB was doing and how they looked forward to hearing from him!
I was a business major & involved in the athletic dept, so my contact with Dr Jay B was minimal besides the speech class that I took under him. Even as a faculty member I recall him as always being very friendly & approachable. My impression of him was that he was an invaluable connection between the top levels of EMC/EMU & the student body. His legacy lives on indefinitely. My prayers are with you ongoing.
David Amstutz, '72
What is the measure of Jay B. Landis' life? Surely one huge piece of that measure lies in the lives and the corporate memories of all those hundreds and hundreds of people, thousands surely, who have known Jay in countless different contexts and locations and whose lives have been profoundly enriched by his own life and the gifts he shared so lavishly with the people of his world. I am one of those people. My memories of Jay go all the way back to my childhood here in Park View, North Park View to be precise. Here in this North Park View neighborhood there was a wonderful Christmas tradition of a "story evening," a gathering of neighbors to hear a Christmas story being read. Very likely Jay started this tradition. And I surely remember sitting in the midst of such a neighborhood gathering and listening with rapt attention as Jay read us Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (no doubt) or other classic Christmas stories. Then there was high school at EMHS, where Jay ("Mr. Landis" in those days) was the Senior English teacher. I clearly remember (once again!) sitting in rapt attention as he read us Shakespeare. I still have my copy of the Senior Term Paper that I wrote for him, one about the Salem Witch Trials (no doubt inspired for me by the theater production of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" at EMC at that time), a paper with a lovely little comment from Jay at the end. And it was our 72-member Class of 1968 who were gifted with having Jay Landis and my mother, Miriam Weaver, as our class sponsors. And, as I recall, Jay and Peggy were at our most recent reunion, the "Big 5-0" in the Fall of 2018. And then there was the Shenandoah Valley Choral Society. Jay was a faithful and very long-standing member of the Tenor section. And I will never forget that Jay always looked out for the North Park View crew of Choral Society singers on those evenings, near to the concerts, when we would drive down to Bridgewater for our final rehearsals, most often in Jay's car. My memory is that Jay was always interested in ongoing "people news" from the various folks in the car and would often offer stories about Pennsylvania connections for my benefit, since I hadn't grown up there. And there is so much more that could be said. I was, of course a "colleague across campus" for long years here at EMU. And it was sometime during this era that I finally gained the courage to address him as "Jay" for the first time (after a childhood and adolescence of knowing him as "Mr. Landis"). I am deeply grateful for the profound treasure that we in this community have experienced with the gifted and gracious life of Jay B. Landis. Thanks be to God!
Dorothy Jean Weaver
I have fond memories of speech class with Jay and of babysitting his daughters, back in 1970!
Fran Haubold nee Beachy
Jay was always friendly to me, from the time I first came to EMU as a staff member to the last few years when Brenda and I would walk past his house as part of our daily route. One unusual memory I have is running into Jay and Peggy on an airplane en route to London in the early 1990s. Brenda and I were already on board the September flight when we saw Jay and Peggy get on with a group of students. It was fun to say hello and hear a bit about plans for the semester.
I considered Jay a very dear friend. When I began my teaching career at EMU in 1995, Jay made a point to always stop me in the hallway and ask how I was getting along. I think he remembered all too well the difficulties of first year teaching! Jay was not obligated to do this. But what a difference it made to me, knowing that one of EMU's "pillars" took a genuine interest in me. As the years went by, we continued to stay in touch, including occasional lunch dates in the cafeteria (even after Jay retired from EMU). Thanks, Jay, for your ministry to me and countless others, at EMU and beyond. I will miss seeing you.
Jay and Peggy led my cross cultural trip to London in 1997. They were both generous with their time and I had a wonderful experience. Whenever I would see Jay B. around campus in the years after that he would also greet me with a warm smile and ask how I was doing. His presence will be missed in the Park View area. My thoughts and prayers are with Peggy and family during the time of loss.
In 1960 I was learning to teach, and observing Jay’s classes. I thought, I’ll never be able to teach like that. Nevertheless, I aspired.
I remember Jay as a very gentle personality and had some classes with Peggy at JMmU when we were in graduate school together.
Elizabeth McClenahan Dawson
I remember Jay for his love of life and poetry. He always had a twinkle in his eye. I don’t recall ever having a class with him - but his presence was known and felt on campus. I thank God for Jay’s legacy. Kevin King Class of 81’
I had Dr. Landis for public speaking my first year at EMC(1976). I Remember him as a very open minded teacher who loved to hear my speeches in class. I really loved him as a teacher and friend!
Peggy: My memories remain of you and Jay. You were easily some of the first persons that I learned to know when I started attending PVMC, by way of Olive Arbogast and then of course my membership there. How can one know just how enriched lives become over the years because of relationships - such as yours! I know our choir will surely miss Jay's wonderful tenor voice. And I shall remember your Sunday morning coffee time with Jay's lovely roses. I'm thinking of you all in caring thoughts and saying a prayer for God's comfort for you, Jill and Ann and your families. May you find comfort in the love and memories your heart will always hold onto. Tilli Y.
It won't be the same returning to Harrisonburg, and specifically Park View, and not being greeted by Jay! We both enjoyed having Jay as a prof in the early 90's at EMU. We have warm memories of extending our friendship with Jay into our early married years and membership at Park View. Jay was always a keen member of the church choir with us. Our sincere condolences; he will missed. We will do our best to carry on his legacy of warm greetings and sincere conversation. It was wonderful to be able to gather with family and friends for the beautiful memorial service. Tim Hedrick and Janice Maust Hedrick, Waterloo, Ontario
Tim Hedrick and Janice Maust Hedrick
A beautiful service honoring a beautiful life. Condolences to you Peggy, and your family in the grief you feel in Jay's passing from you, and gladness for the wonderful life you had with him. My earliest memories of Jay go back to the 50's when as a H.S. Senior, newly arrived on campus, Jay as a college student mentored me in my first attempts at writing. Introduced to Scriblerus, that venerable writing society of those years, I was one of many students Jay helped in breathing new life from thin writing materials. I remember him as the personification of kindness and diplomacy as he took aim at cliches, drawing on his gentle sense of humor to encourage more precise language and appropriate imagery. I'm sure I later emulated his approach with my own students. I value that friendship and generosity of Jay's teaching; his understanding of literature had great depth and breadth and brought so much appreciation to the listener. Blessings, Miriam Maust
One of my favorite places to sit at Park View MC was in front of Jay and Peggy Landis, for the sound of their voices: Clearly voices of respect, reason, poetry, love of life, and always always love of music.
I'm lucky to be best friends with Jay's daughter, Ann Landis, which means I have known Jay for many years and I know personally how much his family adored him. I remember his kind eyes and amazing smile. He always made everyone in a room feel important, valued and deserving of conversation. It is not possible for me to thank him enough for seeing me as someone with potential when I landed in his speech class at EMU. He made me feel like I belonged in college and he (and his daughter) made me aware of the power and beauty of the written word. It was the beginning for me, something that made me into someone different than a first generation college student, a farm girl from Indiana. He was larger than this world. Rest peacefully, Jay B. (Deana)
Deana (Moren) Baker and Jewel Lehman
I'm lucky to be best friends with Jay's daughter, Ann Landis, which means I have known Jay for many years and I know personally how much his family adored him. I remember his kind eyes and amazing smile. He always made everyone in a room feel important, valued and deserving of conversation. It is not possible for me to thank him enough for seeing me as someone with potential when I landed in his speech class at EMU. He made me feel like I belonged in college and he (and his daughter) made me aware of the power and beauty of the written word. It was the beginning for me, something that made me into someone different than a first generation college student, a farm girl from Indiana. He was larger than this world. Rest peacefully, Jay B. (Deana)
Deana Moren Baker and Jewel Lehman
I came to know Jay "lately" after my move to Harrisonburg 13 years ago. As a newcomer to the area and also singing in the Shenandoah Valley Choral Society with Jay, I remember Jay as reaching out and welcoming me to the area. I learned to know Jay better as the husband of a fellow small group member who was always friendly, comfortable in his own skin, and an asset to any group. I will miss his smiling face and the many gifts that he shared with our local and church community--especially the roses! Whenever I saw a bouquet of roses at any event, it was a good bet that they came from Jay's garden. I appreciated his love of beauty, fun, and compassionate caring.
Mary Kratz and Millard Showalter
Jay always impressed me as someone many years younger that he actually was. He possessed so much energy, poise, and sharpness, that is was easy to forget he was actually, for most of the years I knew him, an octogenarian! I also was aware, from others who knew him during his teaching years, what a beloved professor he was. I am grateful to have known Jay these past 9 years.
A lovely service for a lovely man! One of my favorite memory images of Jay comes from the years that I taught at EMC. He and I were on the same teaching team for Freshman IDS (Interdisciplinary Studies). I can see him standing in front of the large, sloped classroom in the Science Center, looking up at those students in the very back row, one hand on his hip and the other holding the book from which he was delivering a dramatic recitation with the same intensity as if he were on a Broadway stage. It was fun to watch the students' faces as they listened with rapt attention! He was intentional about sharing his love of literature and he was equally intentional about sharing his genuine interest in and appreciation of the lives of his many students, colleagues and friends. He was a real gem.
Marge A. Maust
I (Lewis) met Jay in 1959, when I moved to Park View to teach chemistry at EMC. That first year, Jay, John Hershey and I shared a basement apartment just off campus. Lois and I married the following summer, but Jay, and later Peggy, became life-long friends, even after we moved away from EMC in 1966. We could count on receiving a creative card every Christmas, and we responded with standard fare. We were warmly welcomed into their home on infrequent visits to EMC. I have always appreciated Jay’s warm, welcoming attitude, and his lapsing, effortlessly, into appropriate Shakespearean verse! Lewis and Lois Brubacher, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Lewis and Lois Brubacher
In 1956 Jay B. Landis joined the faculty at Eastern Mennonite High School. We (class of 1959) were in our sophomore year. That year and our senior year we came to know Jay as an energetic, enthusiastic teacher who sparked our interest in all things English and even beyond. A few highlights of those years that come to mind are Shakespeare's Macbeth, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Christopher Robin and Pooh, Amahl and the Night Visitors and Pygmalion. To us, in many ways, Jay was akin to someone like a big brother. He could be strict, but more often he was our friend, our mentor and a resourceful guide. I am confident that Jay is now seeing "heaven's morning break and earth's vain shadows flee" and hearing a loving God say "abide with me".I will miss him greatly. My sympathy and prayers to Peggy and his family.
Rose Weaver Rhodes
As a student at EMC I was blessed to travel across the British Isles with Jay B and Peggy on my cross-cultural. Jay B brought literature, poetry and history alive, and each day was an adventure. I have such wonderful memories of that trip and the “parents” they were to our group. Many years after graduating I moved back to the Valley and each time I would see Jay B he would greet me with a huge smile and we would chat, like no time had passed. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Peggy and family, in the days ahead. He will be missed by many.
Mary Jo (Beiler) Veurink
Neva and I moved to Harrisonburg from Ohio three years ago to be close to our three grandchildren. We learned to know Jay through both church and community service. Jay and Neva sang in the choir, and he often helped on the same Wednesday evening that we did at Patchwork Pantry. When Jay learned who we were, he told us that he had had our daughter and son-in-law in one of his classes. He even remembered that they were in the same class together. It was the only class they had together in the four years they attended EMU. We attended the play written for EMU's 100th anniversary. When Jay walked on stage, he received a large ovation of cheers. After the performance, I spoke with him about the crowd's reaction. I told him that he must have been an excellent teacher to receive a response like that. He thanked me like the gentleman that he was, and then former students interrupted our conversation. Jay knew every one of them and called them by name. Jay lived his Christian beliefs daily in the community and with his family. It was an honor to have known Jay, and we are very saddened by his death. May God grant you grace and peace as you mourn.
Bruce and Neva Stambaugh
Jay was a humble and gifted servant of our Lord. His ready wit and creativity were evident as he related to others. I was blown away when he greeted my daughter, Kim, by name, whom he hadn't seen for over two decades, when she was one of his students at EMU. I first met Jay at PVMC, sitting in the bench behind me. His warm, welcoming smile would greet me countless Sunday mornings after that. I will miss Jay's beautiful tenor voice,harmonizing during worship. I will never forget Jay's ready willingness to lead the singing at my husband, Jan's memorial service. I will remember Jay as a loving brother and friend.
Carol van Donk
Jay B was such an encourager to me. One of my earliest memories of this trait were his ready words to assure me when I shared my fears of impending parenthood. With the familiar grin and twinkle in his eyes he quipped, “Don’t worry too much, Ann, babies come with instructions written right on them.” I am still pondering what all he meant. I am not sure how the idea emerged between us to submit a proposal in 2000 for a senior seminar class on suffering. We shared strong call to lead students to confront our culture’s avoidance of suffering and to embrace love knowing that pain is always a companion of love, that love and suffering go hand in hand. Jay B brought the literary grounding to the course and gave me voice for the suffering I had seen in Central America through the decades. He introduced me to Bauby’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and to DC’s Arena stage where we took each class to attend one of August Wilson’s plays depicting an aspect of racism or sometimes Steinbeck’s- Of mice and men. The suffering course has endured as one of the senior seminar courses for nearly twenty years. Working together on endless general education revisions I learned from Jay B’s patience and wisdom with institutional inter-working's (politics) as well as how to effectively work in such settings to embrace both tradition and innovation. His words and his way of being was and is and will be a guide to me. I am ever grateful to God for Jay B’s life and ministry.
Ann Graber Hershberger
Dearest Peggy, Ann and Jill and family, I’ve thought so much about you and prayed for you all in these last weeks as our wonderful Jay made his transition. I listened to the beautiful service from Park View and found it to be a loving tribute and remembrance of his life. I especially loved Phil’s recollection and reflection on that most poetic of Biblical books, Ecclesiastes. And how I adored seeing the pictures from then and now and all the LOVE that was always so prominent in his life and all of yours. And that song! “Do Not Fear!” indeed. Jay was rejoicing in heaven to hear that sung, Ann. Such a message of HOPE for all of us. I have so many wonderful and loving memories of Jay and the incredible life he led. During my years at EMU, nee EMC, Jay was not only a trusted professor but an amazing friend and confidant during my years as a fledgling teacher trying to keep the theatre department afloat while the new Campus Center was being built and Jay and I shared a dorm room turned into an office in Northlawn. He was, of course, a source of constant encouragement and helped me through many a frustration as I stumbled along. Every time I think of Jay, I see his huge smile and that curious cock of the head that always indicated he was bemused and considering the beauty and humor and LIFE in every situation. One of my favorite personal memories is as his student, when the old Ad Building still stood. I was completed exhausted and overwrought (in a very dramatic way, of course, which he seemed to appreciate) trying to complete an English Education major and direct “The Glass Menagerie” at the same time. As one of the few understanding professors in my life, he very kindly allowed me to fulfill one of the requirements of his exquisite poetry class when I met him on the portico overlooking Massanutten and, right there, recite Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” as one of his course’s requirements, all the while smiling that huge toothy smile and probably helpfully correcting me when my words diverged down the wrong road. For a time, I imagined J.B. was named after Archibold MacLeish’s marvelous play, “J.B.” until I was educated to the fact that it was written in 1958 and was about the Biblical Job. Of course, there are parallels in that Jay could never be persuaded by anyone to stop loving his God and to live a holy and blessed life no matter what befell him. Jay will live with me all my life and I will always treasure what he taught me and exemplified for me. His life lives on in each of you and I pray our paths will cross again so that we can exchange a hug (or at least an elbow bump) as we remember the extraordinary J.B. Much love, Donald Shenk (aka Don/Donnie)
JB's smile, laugh and interest in others are what made him so loved. My prayers and love are with the family.
Vonnie Miller Oyer
I learned to know Jay when we were freshmen at EMS (later EMC and EMU). We quickly became friends when we shared our love of poetry and drama and literature. After that one year we went our separate ways, meeting a couple of times at Laurelville. When Don and I and our family moved to Harrisonburg, twenty-five years later, Jay and Peggy picked up the friendship. What a gift you have been! We continued to share our love of theater and words, added music and our participation in the life of Park View Church. Kindred spirits, I think, and friends we could always count on. I love the photo album, too!
Dear Landis family, I remember Dr. Landis from Freshman English at EMU and really appreciate his excellent help He was instrumental in the development of my love for words and writing. May God fill You with comfort, peace and many good memories. Ruth
Ruth Ann Rissler Altemus
We were so sad to learn of Jay's passing. Peggy, I remember you as a very special cousin and the good times we had together along with my sister Ruth. You have our deepest sympathy.
Bob & Rosalie Eshleman
Jayb and Peggy were always so kind. I will always appreciate their genuine decency and empathy. Peggy and Annie (and twin, sorry I don't recall your name) I am so dissapointed your husband and dad isn't walking the earth among the breathing as we know it.
To Peggy, Ann, Jill and all the family. We were pleased to be able to participate in Jay’s Celebration of life Service. What a wonderful gentleman Jay was: a much loved teacher, excellent story teller, reader, singer, volunteer, rose gardener, and so much more! How deeply sorry we are for your loss. That loss is shared by many and our fond memories of Jay are lasting. Always felt honored to be able to count him in the Suter clan! We pray God’s arms of love surround you to bring comfort and peace! Much Love, Jan and Sam
Sam and Jan Suter Showalter
Dear Peggy, I wasn't able to get on this memory page yesterday. But today I did. I was able to see the memorial service for which I am so glad. I My heart is heavy - Jay has left an empty spot in many whose lives he has touched. Some of my many memories: ▪︎He was my HS English teacher, par excellence. You couldn't help but love & enjoy the literature he shared with us, from Shakespeare to H*Y*M*A*N. K*A*P*L*A*N. 🥰 ▪︎He was our PVCM youth LEADER MANY,MANY years ago) and took our youth group to Iowa for the annual MYF conference . ▪︎He recited "DICKENS CHRISTMAS CAROL" at an annual neighborhood Christmas cookie party that my parents hosted yearly at our house on Parkway Drive. ▪︎As our dear friends as well as neighbors, you were always there In our times of loss loss , tragedy, & grieving. With love & prayers for you & your family, Sue Sarco Woodard
Ida Sue Sarco Woodard
What a wonderful friend we have lost! When I shared my dream of a welcoming, inclusive church, Jay was one of my earliest supporters of that dream. A group called ARCHES was formed and continues to this day. In 2005, Jay wrote an article for our church news letter. His title, "A Mat at the Entrance". "Over the past few years a concern has been growing among us that questions our "welcome mat". Is the lettering clear? If it says "To all who need a Savior, this church opens wide its doors", is its message as clear inside the door as it is on the threshold?" Later in the article, Jay writes, We are a group within the Park View Mennonite Church who seek to create in our congregation an open and welcoming environment that includes gay, lesbian, and other sexual minority persons and their families." Many members of Park View have joined us, and we have been actively advocating for a welcoming church to this day. I will surely miss Jay's kind, caring counsel !!
Jim and Aldine Musser
Thank you for the opportunity to be present for the memorial service in this way. I will always remember the kindness of this special man. Over 25 years ago, I was going through a very difficult time, and many people offered comfort. But I only recall the exact words of one person during that time, Jay's. They touched the very core of what I was feeling. My heart goes out to you, his family, especially the ones for whom I have fond memories, Peggy, Ann, and Jill. Blessings.
Lois Sell (formerly Baer)
Jay Influenced my life by being one of the best English teachers of my high school experience. His enthusiasm for literature was contagious to his students. I was honored when he read one of my short stories to the class. I often think of him when watching a play, especially Shakespeare, or reading a book.
So glad to be able to be a part of this special celebration, even from a distance. Thinking of you all in this time of great loss. May you feel held in the love of God. Penny
I don’t have a specific memory to relate but I feel like so many others - Jay’s ability to remember your name and the particulars of your life was so affirming. I knew him first in 1969 so the earlier pictures of him and his smile that lit up his whole face are most familiar to me. I have visited the campus at least yearly since graduation and always was happy to see “JB.” I trust everyone’s fond memories are a comfort to his family.
Jeanette Noll Bontrager
Sophia B. Martin
I first met Jay when I began working at the Free Clinic in 2014. Jay was an invaluable volunteer and I knew I could always count on him to be right there on Wednesday mornings. He always joked that he "didn't know what he was doing" when completing paperwork with prospective patients, but he knew exactly how to make people feel at ease in an uncomfortable situation and treated each person with dignity and respect. He always took the time to talk with people and understand their lives, and point them in the direction of resources to help them on their journey. As I worked on my master's degree at EMU, Jay constantly inquired about classes I was taking, always encouraging me. Eventually, when I was unexpectedly offered a teaching position and left the Free Clinic (much to my disappointment), Jay continued to encourage me to move forward. I have stopped by the Clinic on several occasions since I left just to say "hi," but always seemed to have just missed Jay. I will always remember his twinkling eyes and laugh, and the beautiful roses he brought to the Clinic each week that lifted everyone's spirits. But most especially, the way he encouraged me and everyone else that he encountered.
In 1963 I decided to leave my Pennsylvania home to go to school at Eastern Mennonite HS for my junior year. I had it planned to return to my PA high school for my senior year. In the first week of school we had a social (walk a mile?) that ended in the lawn outside the chapel where Jay Landis (later to become my senior English teacher) read a story to us, book held high, no mic. Hymie Kaplan maybe. It was magical. Think about it, a story time for high schoolers. On the spot I knew that I would be coming back for my senior year. Jay would later be literary sponsor and help Armerians win the contest in our senior year. Jay Landis passed yesterday. I am sad.
Jay Landis taught my English classes at EMHS when I was a Freshman in 1965 and when I was a Senior in 1968. He was the best teacher I have ever had—instilling a lifelong love for literature and serving as an example for how to bring enthusiasm and knowledge to the classroom. In my 30 years as a university English and literature professor, I channeled Jay’s spirit every time I walked into the classroom. And I never missed a chance to tell him so — both at our recent 50th reunion of EMHS Class of ‘68 and at my father’s memorial service in September of 2019 at Park View Church. Jay instilled in me a lifelong belief in the power of literature to develop careful reading and thinking and to change lives. Thank you, Jay, and best to the family. RIP, Jay. — Dan Lehman, Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus, Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio
Dear Peggy &. family, Though I did not have the privilege of being in classes taught by Jay, I learned to know of his deeply caring spirit. Peggy, the year I worked for you in the Student Life Office (1988-89), was my introduction to the presence and grace that was part of who your life long partner was. Following that year, every time our paths crossed, he would inquire about our family. And somehow, I knew he genuinely cared. After that, occasionally I saw you doing things for your mother. The onlooker may have had a hard time telling which one of you was her child. And, yes, your mother ( Dorothy) loved and appreciated you both! The two of you made a great team! The gentle humor that flowed between you, your ability to stand solidly on your own two feet beside each other, and the mutual respect between you was a beautiful example of what a true partnership can look like. Jay may temporarily be gone from your side, (and yes, I know you miss him immensely!), but he is forever woven into the memories and lives of those whose path crossed his.
Thank you, Peggy and family, for making the service available online. It's hard to imagine our world without Jay B. Landis. He was pure delight to work with; the smile, the twinkle in his eyes, the decorum, the roses, the voice..., and always the latest tidbit of helpful news. "Jay and Peggy", side by side, deeply in love. I will miss him and pray for the comfort of his dear Peggy and family.
Twila King Yoder
I had the honor to watch the memorial service with Jay's sister, Marlene. While I did not know him it's clear that he both loved and was loved. Rest in God's Peace.
Glenda Machia from Ephrata, Pa.
What a wonderful service. A perfect remembrance of my brother. Love, Marlene I will miss you.
I remember Jay as a good teacher, and a good friend. A very talented person who was a pleasure to know.
Myrna and I each had the great privilege to enjoy Jay as our senior year English teacher at EMHS back in 1959-60 and l960-61 (Myrna). He was one of our favorite teachers. I think we loved him as a teacher because of his youthfulness, enthusiasm and magnetic personality. We especially recall how he expressively read selections from Winnie the Pooh. By 1987 to 1991, our English major daughter, Tina, appreciated Jay as one of her professors at EMC. Then in the spring of 2017, I asked Peggy if she would read a pre-publication manuscript of the life and ministry of Harold and Arlene and write an endorsement. She agreed to do so. Jay joined in the review and provided encouragement and helpful suggestions. We cherish these memories and were pleased to join in the celebration of Jay's life.
Ken Eshleman and Myrna Brenneman Eshleman
I knew Jay as Professor and then as a congregant at two separate time periods at Park View Mennonite. Jay always met me with a smile and genuine interest in what was going on in life. When I met with he and Peggy a few months ago, he openly shared about what he saw as the challenges of growing old. He seemed to engage life with such grace and beauty. he will be missed.
Lots of great memories of Jay! I especially remember his energy and enthusiasm as he took our Park View Mennonite Church middle school junior youth group to NC for a service weekend. He along with Jim Glanzer led our energetic group in cleaning up an overgrown property and then we participated in the worship service at David Kindy's church the next morning. Ann and Jill may remember all of the fun we had on that trip. He was enjoyable to visit with and to share much laughter. He loved learning and books and often perused the book selection at the shop. I am so thankful I was able to visit with him at Irene Mullenex's service in January and witness his positive spirit as he talked about his health issues. May God hold you tightly in His mighty arms Peggy, Ann and Jill and your precious family as you walk these next steps. Such a glorious reunion there will be in Heaven one sweet day.
Vic and I will miss Jay's warm smile of greeting each Sunday. We often sat on the bench just in front of Peggy and him.
A beautiful service in a difficult time. You all are in our prayers as you move forward. May you know God's everlasting arms holding you each day.
Jay B always greeted you with a warm welcoming smile, always called you by name and made you feel like you were the only person in the room when he talked to you. He was a dynamic beloved professor and one of my favorite people to see at church. He was consistently kind, present, and loving. I have remarked several times to Jay B, “I hope I age like you.” His spirit remained young and he seemed to relate to all people. God bless and be close to all those who loved him. He will be greatly missed by all those who had the pleasure of knowing him.
Laura Lehman Rhodes
Grace Wideman Herr
We are so grateful to have met Jay B. when we moved in across the street a few years ago. His gracious welcome to our neighborhood never faded. And our memories of him will be bolstered by the glimpses of his garden that we enjoy on a daily basis. We extend our sincere condolences to you, Peggy, and your entire family.
Donna, James and Eleanore Schminkey-Ward
I felt so privileged to be a part of the beautiful memorial service for Jay. I first knew him as my favorite high school teacher who not only taught us about what we needed to know about the English language, but entertained us with dramatic readings of Winnie the Pooh. It was my good fortune that he married my dear friend Peggy Heatwole which meant continued contacts over the years on my return visits to the Valley. I will always remember his intelligence, gracious hospitality, and infectious sense of humor. Peggy and family we share in your loss and join you in fond memories.
Ruth Eshleman Sherman Schrock
When I graduated from EMU in 2011, I was somehow elected to give one of the student addresses. As a Hesston College transfer I had not experienced any commencement ceremonies at EMU and was quite intimidated by the idea of speaking at that commencement ceremony. Even whilst graduating I felt as though I was still very much an outsider in that community. In efforts to craft the most meaningful and appropriate commencement address I asked JB if he would agree to a series of lunchtime chats with me to provide some coaching as I prepared my speech (Having retired before I ever began my education at EMU, I never had JB in class but learned to know him through my campus job in the post office). I will look back with extreme fondness on those lunches with JB in my last few weeks as a student at EMU. Lunches that finally made me feel like I was truly a part of the EMU community. What a very special man...
Jay's memorial service was incredibly beautiful! What a wonderful and talented family. When we moved to Virginia, John and I were so grateful and honored to be welcomed as friends by Jay and Peggy. Peggy, I look forward to continuing our friendship. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Peggy, Ann and Jill I appreciate so much the timeJay spent with dad at Mumaw House. Jay was my SS teacher in 6th grade and took us to see Godspell at Ford Theater. What a wonderful experience. Thank you so much for the friendship with my parents through the years.
During the summer of 1953, Willard and Jay roomed together at the home of Emma and Bishop John L. Horst in Scottdale, PA, both of them working as summer student interns at Mennonite Publishing House. Alice was also part of the small group of young adults who picnicked, sang and played the new game Scrabble that summer. Jay introduced us to The Mennonite Hymnary, the Mennonite General Conference hymnal. Three years later Jay guided our choice of hymns for our wedding and led the octet of friends who sang them. We remember him especially urging us to use Christ, we do all adore thee, a hymn we review as we celebrate Jay's life.
Willard and Alice Metzler Roth
My most vivid memories of Jay are in more recent years as he was a supportive and faithful member of the church choir which I directed. He sang through December of this past year, 2019 and remained a wonderful vocal and personal asset! Jay also, as many people noted, remembered names and more than that, remembered things ABOUT people, including my sons and parents. I also LOVE roses and while I do not have as many as he did, mine are also quite beautiful and Jay was the person to whom I could ask questions about their care. I don't think Jay knew this, but when I turned 60, I got a tattoo on my shoulder of a rose (double delight type) in which the stem is a G clef! :) "The finest choice will always be a rose."
Thank You to everyone who made the celebration of John and my dear ,dear friend ,Jay, possible.I especially thank the family for the beautiful planning and participation in the service .I am so grateful that the celebration helped me ,personally, to begin my journey to move from a deep , "raw" sadness for the family, community and personal loss to thanksgiving for a "life well lived."Thanks be to God. Thank you ,Jay, for your very welcome visits to John,the residents and staff at Mumaw House. Your friendship and your personally, nurtured roses were ,indeed ,gifts of love. Thank You!
A beautiful service in a difficult time. You all are in our prayers as you move forward. May you know God's everlasting arms holding you each day.
Our appreciation for Jay grew as we connected with the memorial service. We praise God for Jay's life and witness and wonderful tenor voice.
Gordon and Bonnie Zook
While I personally never had a class with Jay, I have many memories of hearing my three children, Anita, Maria and Michael, discuss their experiences with Jay as their teacher. And Titus often shared his experiences as a colleague of Jay during his 22 years at EMU. During his retirement, Titus got in touch with Jay on several occasions when he recalled poetry or writings and could not recall the author's name. He would call Jay and immediately he would be rewarded with Jay's active memory and the author's name was on his tongue. Thank you for sharing that inspiring Memorial Service.
Jay's welcome to all faculty and staff was unmatched. His optimism, smile. and encouragement was never ending His family, each strong on their own, reflected that model.
Ken J. and Helen Nafziger
My memories of Jay and Peggy include growing up in the Park View community, being a part of Chicago Avenue Menn. Church, attending EMHS with Ann and Jill, and studying at EMU. I treasure these warm memories which connect my family to this very special man. Thank you, Peggy and family, for allowing us to honor Jay through this lovely memorial service.
Susan Weaver Eshleman
The memorial service was beautiful, a fitting tribute to Jay who taught all of us--colleagues, students and friends--something about living fully and deeply. Jay's practice each August when we gathered for EMU's fall faculty conference is but one example. He would arrange a large bouquet from his rose garden and place it on the podium in S106, a perfect invocation to the new academic year. Through countless memories, we will continue to treasure Jay's laughter, creativity, curiosity (and sometimes wry observations), along with his extraordinary ability to encourage others. Thank you, Jay.
Del and Lee Snyder
thinking of you
Please accept our sympathy and condolences. We've always appreciated Jay's happy disposition, pleasant smile, and encouraging words. We'll remember his steadfast loyalty and the leadership he provided PVMC and EMU. Don and Rita Steiner
Don and Rita Steiner
We watched the memorial service sitting together on our bed with the laptop on someone's lap. I was able to be home from work at the Hopewell plant so I could remember my Uncle Jay. He often made time for family gatherings in PA or Virginia. Soon after we moved to Chester, Jay and Peggy made a visit to our house in the woods. Jay was very interested in the flowers around the place. As I remembered Grandpa Martin S. Landis at his funeral with Psalms 1 and being planted by streams of water , I also remember Jay and the Godly heritage he shared with others.
Wendell & Carolyn Landis, Malachi, Josiah, and Charis in Chester, VA
Please accept our sympathy and condolences. We've always appreciated Jay's happy disposition, pleasant smile, and encouraging words. We'll remember his steadfast loyalty and the leadership he provided PVMC and EMU.
Don and Rita Steiner
Memories of Jay.... -His love of roses, beautifully arranged in cobalt blue vases, and shared so generously with many people over many years. -His love of music and singing in choirs. -His love for Peggy and his family, evident in a proud yet humble way. -His gracious and regular words of encouragement, affirmation and support of my ministry and leadership at Park View over 17 years. -His creative skill in writing verses adapted for special occasions and sung to familiar tunes, including for my retirement celebration 2 years ago. -His deep love and commitment to Christ and the church, his faith community at PV and his many friends. May God be near to you, dear Peggy, and family.
Barbara Moyer Lehman (and John Lehman)
Very nice service. Especially the participation of the grandchildren! With our deepest sympathy, Mel and Dot
Melvin and Dorothy Keim
Mr. Landis was one of my favorite teachers. I have very fond memories of his classes His reading of "Heimmin Capplin". I had several classes under him. Good memories!
Enos H. Horst
To Jay Landis To the man who hypnotized us high school junior jocks, with the witches’ “Double, double, toil and trouble”, poor Yorick’s somber soliloquy. To the man who made me understand there is more to life than covalent bonds and integrals and chromosomes. To the man who underlined the single middle sentence in the essay that I wrote that sounded half-way right and penned two exclamation marks that make me think “Maybe I can write.” To the man who didn’t have to preach the Micah 6 he made the motto for his life because his deeds were just and merciful and despite his accolades, he walked so humbly with his God. --Joseph Gascho
I am drawn to a memory of Jay, my father-in-law, from years before I joined his family. In my first semester as a student at EMU, I took a class he taught in "advanced writing." My high school English teachers included two near-retirement, don't-take-no-mess, Virginia gentlewomen. Their rigorous teaching of English was likely a good portion of the reason my test scores landed me in the class for "advanced" writing. I remember my first assignment from Dad/Jay was a descriptive essay. Looking for inspiration, perhaps, I wandered up the hill above EMU's campus and was struck by the beauty of Massanutten mountain, a cloud sitting on it's back while the sun sunk in the sky behind me. I threw together a rhapsody on that scene. Not especially impressed or confident in my essay, I was happily surprised to receive a good grade. Dad saw and affirmed what was good in my writing. I noted my reaction to his see-the-positive teaching: I now WANTED to write well and had confidence I could do it. I should maybe add that I also remember, probably more than once in the years that followed, when I used the objective pronoun when I should have used the subjective! During the last week of Dad's life, I went looking for the scripture where the apostle Paul claims "to die is gain." I found it in Philippians, chapter 1, where Paul, in chains, expresses his confidence that "now, as always, Christ will be magnified in my body--by life or death." Thank you, Dad, for being a lens through which we could see our Lord's eye turned toward us, not to find fault but to see the good in us.
What a beautiful service I just "participated" in. How you honored and remembered Jay was done with such excellence and love. The flute solo was amazing, Becky, and the readings, Tim and Nate, would make any Grandpa proud. ... When I moved to Harrisonburg to teach at EMC in 1977, I didn't know anyone! Thanks to tennis, I soon met Jill and Ann, which led to meeting Peggy and Jay. A fond memory is Jill and/or Ann and me trudging up Parkway after an entire afternoon of tennis. We would sit on the deck drinking something cold. It was during those times that I got to know Jay. While Jay and I had little in common, I soon came to respect him as did his colleagues and students. Jay always had a warm smile for me whether I saw him on campus or years later after a game at EMHS. ... My heart is with you all as you continue to remember and reflect on the life of this dear man.
Leanne "Sis" Thomas
I was saddened to learn of Jay's passing. I remember him as one of my favourite school teachers ever. My last memory of him was him behind the coffee pot at coffee time at PVMCh. Beside him was a beautiful vase of flowers from his own garden.
Dawn R. Hurst-Stultz, Staunton, VA
I have many happy memories of teaching interdisciplinary courses with Jay where we integrated literature and history and tried to help students do the same. He was a dear friend and colleague and will be sorely missed.
Gerald & Shirley Brunk
We were so glad to be able to be a part of the memorial service to honor Jay. Singing with him in the choir was a pleasure - We will miss his friendliness and spirit of love and caring to others. He was a joy to be around.
Ed and Edie Bontrager
My tattered notebook from the 1992 British Isles CC trip contains this W.B. Yeats poem: The Lake Isle of Innisfree I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there of clay and wattles made; Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee, And live alone in the bee-loud glade. And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet's wings. I will arise and go now, for alway night and day I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; While I stand on the road way, or on the pavements gray, I hear it in the deep heart's core. *** Peggy and family, here on these gray pavements may all that you hold in your deep heart's core bring you comfort in your longing and sorrow for J.B., a man of singular kindness and spark. Mine is one of the countless lives he touched deeply.
Kristin (Umble) Oberholtzer
One of my favorite memories of Jay B was chatting with him in the hallway of the 3rd floor of the Campus Center at EMU. When I was a brand new faculty in 2003-2004, and the Lang and Lit Department was still there, across the hall from nursing, he would ALWAYS greet me warmly and talk with me as if I had worked at EMU just as long as he had. He made me feel like I belonged. I’ll really miss those same kinds of interactions at church, too. His twinkling eyes and smile are embedded permanently in my memory. Thank you, JB!!
Laura Glick Yoder
Jay B (and all of you) are such a part of what has made me feel at home in Harrisonburg and to many memories to write about in this small box As a young faculty member Jay B provided me with a role model of how to be a caring and outstanding teacher. Blessings.
Peggy, Ann and Jill, I will never forget Jay’s greetings, full of warmth and enthusiasm, and always by name. What a gift he had for making others feel welcome and comfortable, even if it had been years, or decades. What a thrill to reconnect with him, briefly, at Irene’s memorial service several months ago! My heartfelt condolences go out to all of you. Love, Enid
Enid (Good) Dunbar
First my deepest condolences to his wife Peggy, daughters, and extended family. My fondest memories of JB were when I was a transfer student from the boogie down Bronx NY. I took a few classes with JB from 1988 until I completed my education in December of 1991. I have a candid picture of when I walked across the stage to get my degree and JB gave me a big hug and said " you made it". I also remember when I used to make my grand entrance to Humanities class very late and JB just smiled at me and said " better late than never'. I took Speech class with him and he helped me to build up my confidence. He never judged me and always believed I would succeed. He helped me cope with my belief system since I come from a very charismatic church under the leadership of Bishop Michael Banks who passed away on April 3, 2020 of lung cancer and COVID-19 and trying to adapt to a very conservative Christian college. I felt like I was in a valley of dry bones but it was JB who encouraged me to press on and not quit. JB was my favorite professor at EMC/EMU. You will be truly missed and will never be forgotten ❤️❤️❤️. Peggy we may had never seen eye to eye but I will always be grateful to you for the discipline brought upon me because it made me a better person in Christ. May God bless you and comfort and strengthen you and your family. As Paul said in the Epistles "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord". Drop me a line sometime Peggy. I would love to hear from you. My email address is email@example.com or cell number is 3474764500. Love in Christ, Nancy Maldonado
What a treasure Jay B was to those of us who knew him in just a limited way or in a certain season! Surely, the loss for you as family must be keen but offset by a trove of memories. Blessings to you all, and especially to you, Peggy. Love and grace to you.
We enjoyed Jay as our English teacher in our high school senior year in 1957. We remember him as a very engaging teacher who loved the challenge of imparting his love of English and literature to those of us less informed namely me, Marlin. English for me was challenging as I was more inclined to mathematics and mechanics. Peggy, since you and I were both Heatwoles, we got to sit together in English class and laugh at the antics of Winnie the Pooh as Jay read to us. All my memories of you and later with you and Jay, are treasured ones. I only wish we had made more! The evening we had dinner together in Hartman Dining room was indeed a pleasure and we fully intended to do more of that. We "attended" the service this afternoon. It was a beautiful tribute to him. We were glad to be a little part of this special time. We are praying for you, Peggy, and hope to see you sometime in the near future. With love, Charlotte
Marlin and Charlotte Burkholder
Jay B taught the speech class I had in college. The preparations were stressful, however the class experience was a lot of fun. Over the next several decades our paths crossed numerous times. In 1976, Linda and I lived next door to Peggy's mother, Dorothy Heatwole. Jay cared for Dorothy's garden and we had a friendly competition to see which garden would produce the first red tomato. In 2008, when I started working at the Free Clinic, I was inspired to learn that Jay was a long term volunteer working on patient eligibility. Jay was a dedicated volunteer who delivered a bouquet of roses on the days he worked. These brought joy to patients and colleagues. Later in 2012, Peggy and Jay joined Valley Village and served with numerous committees and the board. Jay has a desire to live as long as possible at his home in Park View. I think of Jay as a community builder, who was quick to be of service to others. My thoughts and prayers are with Peggy and the extended Landis family.
I remember Mr. Landis, as I knew him, when I was a senior at EMHS. He was always friendly and helpful. A good memory is singing at Jay and Peggy's wedding, as a member of the EMHS Vesper Chorus. What an honor.
I had the joy and privilege of attending Jay's senior English class at Eastern Mennonite High School, then Studies in Drama at Eastern Mennonite College. Jay presented his material in an entertaining way and made learning a pleasure. He knew how to read Shakespeare in a dramatic way that kept me enthralled. Thanks, Mr Landis.
I'm a EMU Alumni class of 2002. Born and raised in Managua, Nicaragua. I had the honor of having Jay B for two classes, poetry and Shakespeare. The last one being an elective and one that I took for pure enjoyment. I appreciate it Jay B's passion for literature especially as he read from the plays of Shakespeare. I always admire a professor who truly loves and enjoys what he does. Last year in April , I had the chance to visit him and his wife Peggy at their home. We catched up on what happened over the course of 17 years since I graduated from EMU. Jay B will certainly be missed. I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to be his student during the course of my years at EMU. You are now mingling with Shakespeare, and Marlow. Reciting sonnets in the presence of the great "I AM." Gracias profe!
Maria Clymer Kurtz
I think few people have played as many different roles in my life as Jay did: academic advisor, when I was an undeclared first-year college student; Advanced Writing instructor; parent of my good friend Ann; faculty colleague; fellow member of PVMC. In each of those roles, I experienced Jay as kind and gentle, with a special ability to see (and remember) the individuality of each person. I feel blessed to have known him.
Deirdre Longacher Smeltzer
Some of my earliest memories were in Jay and Peggy's home. Ann and Jill were my closest neighborhood playmates. I remember Jay as a kind and patient man, allowing an elaborate stage to be set up in his garage, where we played with the beloved stuffed animals, Tommy and Maria, all summer long. I thought he was a genius when he cut a large opening in the wall between two bedrooms in their home so that Ann and Jill could have their own rooms and still have togetherness. It was a pleasure to visit with Jay and Peggy in recent years. They were always so warm and engaging. I send my love to Peggy, Ann, Jill, and their families. My prayers will be with you.
Jeanette Kreider Hershey
Peggy, Jill and Ann, we were blest to see the memorial service for Jay this evening. It was a beautiful service, although not as fulfilling as being there in person. Mary Ellen and I have many fond memories of your family back in our EMHS days. Mary Ellen rememberers the faculty wives activities with you, Peggy. And I remember Jay as a fellow faculty member at EMHS and his love of music. And, of course, I have fond memories of you, Jill and Ann. Memories of your beautiful contribution to the ‘81 Touring Choir. You were always smiling, enjoying the music. By the way, that flute “quartet” was outstanding! May God be with you through this experience of loss. Much 💕.
It was at Uncle Jay's and Aunt Peggy's house that my mother's side of the family met Dwight for the first time, I wasn't nervous about it, because I knew they would make him feel welcome.They are kind to everyone they meet.We will cherish our day spent with all of you in September, forever. Uncle Jay you will be missed. Love and prayers to everyone, Nancy and Dwight Thompson
Dwight and Nancy Thompson
Jay and Peggy were instrumental in starting our Colloquy Sunday School class at Park View Mennonite Church many years ago and helped at key times to sustain it over the years. We remember the energy, music, poetry, engaging teaching, and roses on special days or just for a change, that Jay brought to the class. We remember the special time when we drove to the Souderton, PA area to attend the wedding of our class members Samuel and Mary Ellen Horst where Jay and Vernon ended up singing “Since first my soul was knit to thine,” as a duet from the cantata, David the Shepherd Boy, as part of the service.
Vernon and Dorothy Jantzi
We will always remember JB as a person full of kindness and one who spoke with a twinkle in his eye. He was one of our favorite professors and one who made you feel valued and loved. We have truly been blessed by his life. We send our love to his beautiful family!
Ralph & Lucinda Swartzentruber
So many hours of listening to JB read. He made the writing LIVE, filled to the brim with meaning. I will always treasure the roses he gave for us to use in our wedding. The witty twinkle in his eye. The steady presence of the friendship and love between Jay and Peggy. That sense that the beauty of life was accessible in their presence. For all of this, I will be forever grateful. Peace to you all.
Minnette B Hostetler
Jay and Peggy were among the very first to welcome us to the Valley in 2007. They came with smiles, roses, and continuing friendship which we cherish to this day.
Emil & Louise Kreider
I hadn’t seen my dad since Mom’s service. Dad couldn’t figure out how to watch Jay’s service. We made a last minute decision and got to Harrisonburg just as it started. It was a heartfelt experience. Like Jay- elegant, sophisticated, carefully and beautifully organized. Hard to imagine the world without his twinkling eyes or my mother’s laugh.
Jim Mullenex, Barbara and Phil Martin
Ahhhh J. B. Landis! Such a treasure to all of us. For me, he charted a career path that lasted forty years...by simply asking me, after taking his Public Speaking class, "have you considered being a teacher?" "No," I said. "You should," he said. I changed my major to Art Education the next day.
Herb Weaver Jr.
Some years ago Jay and Peggy led a small group of former English majors to England. One of the routines each time we got back on the bus was a "show and tell" about whatever mementos we had found as we wandered some English village street or visited a museum gift shop. If food, we often got a taste of a Bath bun or Florentine or gingerbread. After we boarded the bus at Stonehenge , the routine began. I don't know who showed their Stonehenge mug first, but both Jay and I had purchased the same mug in the museum shop. I don't know what became of Jay's, but after twenty years mine is still my daily morning coffee cup. Day after day I remember the laughter he and I shared for choosing the same memento.
Shirley Yoder Brubaker
Floyd & Janet Blosser
We were glad to be a part of Jay’s very nice memorial service. He’ll be missed by many of us. We have an especially good memory of him participating in our August 1976 wedding as our soloist! He and John Fast performed wonderfully together. And of course I (BJ) have many good EMU memories. Ralph and I are blessed to have known Jay. With our caring thoughts and sympathy.
Ralph and Betty Jo Eby
We both had Jay as a professor and then as a neighbor when we returned to Harrisonburg for 10 years -- now with 2 kids in the house. Jay (and Peggy) were such wonderful neighbors! As our paths crossed across the street, plus in many other ways in the community, we felt mentored and befriended many times over. Jay's interest and encouragement as we were each embarking on new career paths was so very important for both of us. We will so miss his warm greetings.
Jane and Daryl Peifer
I remember meeting Jay B and Peggy when I was in my early teens. Their son-in-law, Craig, had recently become the pastor at my church. Every time Jay B would visit, he would make time for a conversation with me, and always tell me I should look into EMU. He thought it would be a good fit for me, and he was right. I also remember how often Jay B would check in with me, especially my first year. He knew how painfully shy I was, and that he and his family were the only people I knew in the area. I always received a wonderfully warm smile and an amazing hug with his conversation. Sending virtual hugs and lots of love to Peggy and the rest of the family. I am so very sorry for your loss. Amanda
Amanda Sanders Mullen
Jay and I entered college in 1950, the same year, following our high school graduation. We were good friends, singing in a quartet and going to homes in Hbg. on Sunday afternoons for cottage meetings. We graduated from EMC in 1954. Last year we had our 65th reunion, We were among the few that attended. Years after graduation our families lived in Park View with our back yards joining each other. Our children became friends. I helped Peggy and my husband survive a math class in summer school. Ann helped Norman repair an old house one summer and so the memories go on and on. What fun. Jay was a good friend to many. I know you will miss him. Lovingly, Dorothy
Jay was a wonderful person. He was my public speaking professor at EMC in the 70's. I was not able to speak when I got up in front of the class the first time and could not complete my prepared speech. Jay was so kind and encouraging and helped me get thru his class. I ended up loving it and earning an A in the class!! Whenever I would run into Jay over the past decades, he would always talk with me, remember my name and be interested in my life. My son, Greg, also had him for a professor at EMU and was impressed with his kind and compassionate personality. RIP, Jay. Job well done!
I was so saddened to read about Jays passing. I have many fond memories of him from my years as a college student and later as an employee at EMU. I first met him when I had him for public speaking. It was a love hate kind of class experience. I loved him! He was so kind and encouraging! But I really hated when it was my turn to give a speech. I was not at all good at it, but he always gave encouraging feedback. Peggy, Ann, and Jill, you are in my thoughts and prayers. You each hold a special place in my heart!
The lesson I learn from Jay is that kindness goes a long way. It's a value that is sometimes underestimated. I would like to continue to learn to be kind. The memorial service was beautiful.
Mary Ann Zehr
I joined with you in the live stream of the service from NM. A lifetime of memories of Jay from neighbor, father of my childhood friends, teacher at EMU, and always welcoming presence on my yearly visits to Park View Mennonite. What a gem of a human being! As a teacher of 26 years, I now recognize the gift Jay gave me as a insecure 20 year old. I had Jay for my public speaking class at EMU. I dreaded that class. Jay helped me not only face that fear but believe in the gift I possessed. It was empowering. As I read other posts, I realize that was his gift to everyone he came in contact with. Thank you Jay for your acceptance of all and joyful engagement with your life community. Love to you Peggy, Jill, Ann, and family. Kristin
Kristin (Miller) Boren
Karen and I send our deepest sympathies for the loss of a such a wonderful and kind man. I enjoyed knowing Jay first as the father of my dear friends Ann and Jill and then also as a wonderful, gifted and inspiring professor for Speech and Poetry classes. I hope that your memories and your love for Jay sustain you through your grief. Love, Sue and Karen
My deepest sympathy to all of you on the loss of Jay. He was a wonderful person, a saint of God. Many will remember him for his warm personality, many gifts, years of dedicated teaching, and service to his God and community. Jay was my first cousin and I will miss him very much. I watched his memorial service and appreciated it. My our loving God comfort each one of you.
Harold E. Huber
When I entered EMU's Honors Program, I had the privilege of beginning a formal mentor/mentee relationship with Jay. I hoped to build on the small conversations Jay would initiate periodically throughout my adolescence at Park View Mennonite Church, conversations that invariably featured Jay's capacity for asking relevant questions and turning my undoubtedly average responses into something noteworthy and profound. As my brother remembered this week, Jay had a special ability to connect with adolescents and young adults, using his winks and elbow nudges to become a companion in trying to figure out the world. Knowing that my experience with Jay is not singular, that I join others - likely hundreds? - who received Jay's attention and mentorship, only brightens the gift. During one emotionally difficult semester at EMU, I realized I hadn't connected with Jay for too long, so we arranged to get together. After talking for a bit about my courses and Jay's love of King Lear as a character, I shared with him my feelings from my semester, themes I now realize he had likely heard from countless college students. The part of Jay's counsel that stands out is him saying, "I'm a strong believer [and then sort of sighing] in phases." I remember this because I found it important enough to write down. In that response, I heard Jay legitimize my emotions, but also express an optimism and wisdom that comes after decades of teaching: these feelings will pass, and you will grow because you lived within them for this time. I think Jay, who taught through season after season in the classroom, knew phases well. Jay's personalized, earnest listening is my model as I counsel my own students through variations of the same questions. His companionship throughout my college time was precious and always instructive, and his verve and sense of gracious presence lives on in many of us as we try to live as he did.
Jay was our dedicated and involved class sponsor (EMHS '59) as well as an inspiring English teacher. Two memories stand out. Jay taught me how to prepare and properly cite work for a library research paper, a skill that served me well in later academic ventures. Additionally, there was something about Jay's enthusiasm for English literature that inspired me to select the names "Shakespeare" and "Chaucer" for our two beloved family cats! Many years later, as an adult now retired and living in Harrisonburg, I had the pleasure to work with Jay and Peggy on the board of directors for Park View Village (now Valley Village). Their combined knowledge of the community was valuable as we established that "aging in community" network. In addition, PVMC Colloquy Sunday School class events became more meaningful as Jay contributed works from literature to add depth to various religious topics. The memorial service was beautiful even though limited to virtual participation. Peggy, may God bless and comfort you as you adjust to life without your favorite poet.
Jay Landis and I have many times of interaction, Starting back in Scottale, PA. My father was an editor at the Mennonite Publishing House, and Jay lived in our basement apartment for a period of time. We even sang in an SATB quartet for a period of time. We both moved to Harrisonburg, VA in the Fall of 1956. I was an EMC freshman, and he taught English at EMHS. My sister Rachel had him for English as a senior at EMHS. I taught at EMHS for three years after graduating in 1960, I think he sang the David tenor role and I the bass Saul role in David the Shepherd Boy Cantata in 1962.Jay and Peggy lived in our Harrisonburg basement apartment for a few years, before moving up on the Hill. We both returned to EMC around 1968,. and sang in the PVMC choir. We usually stood on opposite sides of the pulpit, He sang Tenor and I sang Bass..
John and Joan Horst, We enjoyed watching the memorial recording from PVMC recording
My clear memories of Jay go back to 1957-58 when I was a senior at EMHS. I was sent from my village high school in North Dakota, 12 members in my class, to this whopping school with 86 seniors. Jay was a bookend pillar with Vivian Beachy, who together welcomed this vagabond youth to a new world of learning. Jay amazed me with his ability to make Winnie the Pooh somehow worthy of adult appreciation alongside selections of Shakespeare. The class in Oral Interpretation made me keenly aware of principles of expression and effective public speech. He practiced those principles his life long with skill. That spring Jay put together a boys octet which toured over the Easter break to New England, including New York City and Long Island. Memories of such expanding experiences have stuck with me, always with appreciation for his patience, gentle encouragement, and kind demeanor. Little did I know then that one day we would be colleagues at Eastern Mennonite University. I suspect he had some input to the decision to invite me, and I am deeply grateful. He was among the first to welcome me and mentor me during those beginning years. He quickly exhibited interest and understanding of the things I was passionate about, which made me feel comfortable and welcome. We shared many common interests. Always the senior member of our department, he led with discretion and sound judgment, as well as with a flair for what is beautiful. It was such a privilege to be associated with Jay in the University, in the neighborhood, in church, in choirs, and in numerous social settings. I miss him sorely. Ervie Glick
Ervie and Mary Glick
Jay was a class act. Glad I had the privilege of working with Jay in Lang and Lit and saw the impact he had on students and alum. He will certainly leave a void in many lives. Blessings to Peggy and family.
It was wonderful to have Jay B. as a neighbor since moving to Harrisonburg.
Mervin S. Good
I was so glad to be able to join the memorial service today. Following the service, I pulled out my college file with papers from the late 90's from various classes in search for which I had taken with Jay B Landis. I found at least two - a writing class and the dreaded speech class. I treasured sitting with the memories and reading back over his comments on my papers. Probably the one the struck me most deeply was the feedback from the speech where we created a panel with each of us taking a different views on an issue. My group was exploring "What attitude the church should take towards same-sex commitments/partnerships." I imagine that that particular college exercise was poignant in my own journey and I treasured again today reading his comments that "with this kind of spirit (of commitment to truth and one of openness and honest searching) I have some hope that love can lead us into the future." May love hold all of you grieving his death close in this time!
How blessed I am to have been able to participate in Jay's service. It was beautiful--including the arrangement of roses! I had "Verse Assignment" beside me during the service and could follow along with Tim's reading of "Valentine Villanelle." Love it and love you, Peggy. Ann, Jill, and Peggy, the memories of our time together in Pocatello and in Harrisonburg enrich me even now. Love to you and all the family Jane, Susan, and Stephen Purtle
I enjoyed interacting with Jay on many different occasions throughout my life. Growing up in the same church, and just down the street,our paths crossed often. Seeing him out in his garden as I would walk by the house, chatting with him at church, and singing with him in choir are memories that stand out to me. He always offered a nice smile and good conversation. In the early 2000's, I took his speech class at EMU. I decided to take it during May -Term so it would be a smaller class ( not a class I was looking forward to). I remember he put us at ease as we got up in front of the class. He was a kind and gentle soul. On the last day of class he surprised us with a trip to Mr. J's where he bought everyone a bagel! He was a great man, and will be missed! My thoughts, and prayers are with you all during this time!
Thank you for the lovely service. My heart aches for all of you. Jay and Peggy have always shown such love to me and our family. Jay's tender spirit and warm smile will forever be remembered and missed. He always went out of his way to be compassionate, show care and be gracious and I know these gifts have been passed down to his children and grandchildren. Prayers and love to you all, Andre', Gloria, Reuben and Hannah Mast
Our memories of Jay include the lovely roses he brought for everyone's enjoyment when he and Peggy helped serve during fellowship time on Sunday mornings. Jay and Peggy's service went beyond the coffee making and serving, and also included making fellowship time more special with the addition of those beautiful flowers.
Harry and Elsie Brunk
Jay was the rare combination of clear critical thinking and generous kindness. As an EMC English major, I was grateful for both.
To Jay B, my teacher, mentor, colleague, friend, I leave my word of respect and admiration for the man, the human being, that you were to me and to all. I am, and always have been, taken by your sparkle eyes and sharp mind, a flowing stream of welcoming hospitality. I will miss your friendship but cherish what you leave with me. Peace be unto you, Bill
JB exuded a reserved, classy joie de vie. Not only did you get the sense he respected every one, there's a quality of adoration one felt in his presence...we adored JB, right!? And, if you let it in, you could feel him adoring you. And that twinkle! Like consciousness waiting to see itself wake up. Namaste and Agape to all of us who knew Jay.
We attended Park View 1968-1971. Don taught math and was also part of a sophomore IDS team at EMU 1968-1972. Our second son, Carey, remembers being in the same class with Ann and Jill. One memory, Jay always had a big grin and lived life with a lot of enthusiasm. The memorial was very touching. An outstanding person and life.
Don and Sylvia Miller -- Goshen, IN
Jay and I knew each other from a long way back, I was born in Smoketown and Jay's parents had a small farm near Smoketown and we children would walk to Jay's father's farm to buy eggs. When Locust Grove Mennonite school opened in 1939 I was there as a 2nd grader. Jay came a few years later and we were together as classmates through 8th grade at Locust Grove and then were together at Lancaster Mennonite School, graduating in 1950. Jay wrote our class song. We were planning our 70th LMS anniversary at the end of July this year and are sorry that Jay will not be with us. I am now living at Landis Homes and I invited three classmates to watch the live stream memorial service with me on a large TV screen. Those classmates were Melvin Weaver, Ada Nancy King Smoker and Helen Keener Hess. . We have good memories of Jay bringing a happy cheerful spirit to any class activity. We were blessed by the worship memorial service. May God bring comfort to Peggy and the daughters families.
Ivan B. Leaman
I always looked forward to the PVMC Christmas Eve mass choir because I would arrive for rehearsal and knew Jay would be there to welcome me into the tenor section. “Hey Abe come stand next to me!” he called with a smile. He would then shake my hand, ask how I was doing, and we would continue to sing together. It was always fun and I appreciated similar interactions Sundays during fellowship time. Despite our difference in age, he always treated me as a friend and his kindness was as genuine as could be. I will miss these short, yet special moments with Jay.
I met J.B. Landis in 1962 at EMHS. As a senior in '63, he was my English teacher and class Sponsor. I have many good lasting memories of him being so creative in our programs and events. Whenever I came to Harrisonburg to visit, if he saw me, he would always come to me and talk. I will miss him but someday we will all be reunited. Praying for you Peggy and the family.
We moved across the street from Jay and Peggy seven years ago and have loved being neighbors. When our daughter Olivia graduated from Eastern Mennonite High School, we remember Jay bringing roses for her graduation party. Another thing we remember and will miss are the impromptu conversations out by the mailboxes. These are two examples of ways Jay helped us to feel welcomed and loved.
Dave and Sheri Smucker
Ervie and Mary Glick
Jay was always kind. I remember that as a child, when he and Peggy were friends of our family, and I remember that as a young adult when I was an English major in Jay's classes. His passion for teaching, his love of the power of words, his deep faith as shared through music and flowers, and his heart for remembering names and faces were all ways through which he taught. Peggy, Ann, Jill and families, may the God of the roses gift you with beauty and comfort. May your memories sustain you. And may you always know how very much he loved you.
Carmen and Luke Schrock-Hurst
I was lucky to grow up with JB, and to later have him as a teacher at EMU. Not a Sunday would go by without a steady handshake, greeting and smile from JB. He always made me feel special, taking an interest in my life and family, and for that I will be forever grateful.
Amanda Maust Khalil
Although we didn't know Jay that well, we remember him as a very gracious presence. We thoroughly enjoyed being present at the memorial service.
Ed and Clara Yoder
We cherish the memories of the ready smile and conversation, his interesting readings as worship leader, also as occasional song leader. Then there were always the lovely roses during coffee hour if Jay and Peggy were in charge! Blessings to Peggy and the family!
Harley and Sadie Showalter
Jay always had a youthfulness about him that made him almost seem like our peer in high school, although he was a decade older. Even as I met him him off and on over the years, he always seemed ageless. And after so many years, he still remembered so many of our names (I was always "Patsy" to him) and things about us, that we ourselves didn't remember. I can't remember the occasion--maybe it was the 50th anniversary of our high school class--and we were all to receive a plant. For some reason, I was not at that particular ceremony, but Jay found me later and gave me my plant. That was the kind of person he was. He made us all feel special, like we were part of his family. Blessings to you, Peggy, and to Jay's children and grandchildren. I appreciated being able to be part of the memorial service today.
Pat Hostetter Martin
So happy to attend the service,Hopefully I can connect with you soon Peggy My heart goes out to you during ,this time,I will keep you in my prayers. Love Erma Brubaker.
Erma Brubaker. Larry Martin
Our fond memories of JB and Peggy began when you came with your cute little twin girls to Idaho in the 60s for a term of VS in Caldwell. It was a wonderful privilege to be in Jay's speech class years later. An enthusiastic and engaging instructor. Seemed that once Jay met you he never forgot you.
Lynn & Janice Miller, Woodburn, OR
In the mid-70s I was a seminary student and an undergraduate admissions counselor. I recall many brown-bag lunches in the faculty/staff lounge on the third floor of the old administration building. It was practically a graduate student seminar in history, philosophy, theology, literature, etc., to listen to the conversations of Jay and his academic colleagues. They regaled us with personal stories and institutional history. Laughter filled the space and it was a high point of the day. Jay expressed, as he continued to do throughout his career, acceptance, joy, warmth, and empathy. When I returned to EMU as president in January 2004 Jay was nearing the end of an illustrious career. Following his retirement in 2007 from full-time teaching Jay continued to serve in a variety of roles, and until his death I was privileged to attend the same congregation where we often shared greetings during the fellowship hour. He was unfailingly gracious, encouraging, and accepting. He frequently shared a kind word of affirmation after a presidential speech, reminding me with his characteristic twinkle in the eyes, that he was a "teacher of speech." I wish I had taken a public speech class with him. An African alumnus walked into my office unannounced one day and asked about Jay. I took him across the hall to see Jay and, though more than 20 years had passed since he had been on campus, Jay immediately called him by name, remembered his country of origin, and asked about his life and career. Amazingly his experience was not unique. As I traveled across the country and world on behalf of the university, alumni often asked about Jay, expressing their love and admiration for him as a professor and mentor. I don't have the data to support this, but I wonder if any professor has taught more students in EMU's history. It's not likely that many faculty members will teach for 51 years, nearly 1/2 of the institution's history to date.
Mary S. Sprunger
Jay B. Landis taught me (class of 61) to love literature and to appreciate Shakespeare. He could read it making it come alive. His read aloud passages and books was always a delight. It became a practice I adopted myself as a teacher. When I was a college student he was the instructor for Oral Expression Class which helped me become more comfortable speaking in public. Jay knew how to make learning fun. No wonder he was a favorite teacher for so many of us. When his daughter Jill married my nephew Craig and gave him grandchildren, Jay became almost a relative. I warmly greeted him as "Grandaddy Jay", which he accepted with a big smile and a generous hug.l
Jewel Harman Shenk
We listened to the service, thanks to our grandson Steven and to Pearl Zehr for giving us the link for it. It was a wonderful service of remembrance for our dear friend Jay. We have included several memories in the sympathy card we sent the family.
Roy & Helen Burkholder
Years after spending just one year in Mr. Landis' class he remembered my name and recalled that I had written a rather passionate paper on what was happening in the civil rights movement that year. He cared about his students and he cared about what mattered to us. My best teacher!
Ken Neuenschwander, EMHS class of '65
I was a first year student at EMC in 1993-1994, and had been in accelerated English and AP English in high school. When I came to orientation at EMC, I learned about this wonderful professor, Jay B. Landis. I was so eager to take my freshman year English class with him! I'm not sure when I met him in person, but it wasn't in the freshman English class. I was told that others with higher scores had filled the slots, and there was no room for me, so I could take the regular English class with another professor. I was SO DISAPPOINTED! I heard from other friends during the year about how they loved him and what they were doing in class, while I was writing a persuasive essay, that far from thrilled me. But one day on campus, Jay B Landis walked by and said hello to me by name! I was in shock. How could this man, with whom I never took a class, know my name? He was known on campus to memorize all his students' names in short shrift, but me? Why me? Something at that moment struck a chord in my heart. Like the service today. I felt like he was investing in me. I was important enough to know by name. From that moment on, I attempted to learn everyone's name. This was especially true when I began teaching. That time and effort to learn a name is the investment in that person's life, education, and care. I may not have been able to enjoy his teaching style when at EMU, but I did enjoy a very deep life lesson, which is why I attended today to honor him, his family, and his investment in humanity.
Jay ended up being my advisor through College by chance, really - the professor who would have been my advisor was on sabbatical when I switched my major to English. And while I suppose I could have switched after the other professor's return, the thought never entered my mind. Jay was always happy to lend an ear and offer guidance. He was kind and truly cared. In the classroom, his love of the written word shone through. In more recent years, after my parents retired to Harrisonburg, I would sometimes run into Jay at church or VMRC, and once at the Relief Sale. Many decades after I graduated, he remembered me. I am sure that my experience is not unique. That is just who Jay was. Thank you for arranging for far away folks like me to be part of his memorial.
As Mr. EMU in my story, Jay embodied EMU's mission with grace, wisdom and a way of offering generous presence and dignity to those privileged to know him. "What would Jay B do?" influenced my teaching and learner engagement in countless ways. He did the small things with great love. After EMU chapels and convocations JB could be found upfront speaking words of awe and appreciation to those involved in the service. He taught me to readily recognize goodness. He warmed my path and I'm forever grateful.
Judy H. Mullet
We were able to watch the memorial together and discuss fond memories of family times. Within the past several years, we met at the Wood Grill Buffet with Jay and family before heading to the Massanutten Waterpark. Jay and Peggy are the most gracious hosts, and we loved being at their house.
Marty and Ruth Landis, Brian and Brenda Landis, & Mark and Beverly Thompson
I had Dr. Landis as a professor when I attended EMC 71-75 and as a friend when i taught in the nursing department from 90-96. I always think of him singing with gusto. When i gave a speech in 2010 in the EMU chapel as part of my Distinguished Service Award, he came to me afterwards to congratulate me and said I remembered all he had taught me about a good speech. No one's complement that day meant as much to me as his. My life was so deeply influenced by my years at EMC and later EMU. And he was a big part of that influence.
Nadene Swartzentruber Eads
Both of us had Jay B as a professor at EMU and have wonderful memories of being in his classroom. We also had the pleasure of returning to Harrisonburg and crossing paths with Jay over the past 7 or 8 years. Reflecting on Jay's impact in our lives - he was passionate about teaching and about what he was teaching - and conveyed the importance of having things in life you are deeply passionate about. He showed that joy can be infused into every day, and that kindness can be expressed in something as simple as calling someone by their name. We are grateful to have known you, Jay B - we are just two of the many, many lives that you shaped at EMU.
Lindsay Martin & Nathan Musselman
We both have fond memories of classes with Jay-- the way he read aloud, the roses he brought to class, and his amazing ability to remember so many names, faces, and family connections. He had a way of making everyone feel seen. He also appreciated a good joke-- it's too long a story for this space, but one of my (Holly's) favorite memories of him involves Jay allowing some of us to play a prank in the midst of our final exam (a poetry reading). Now that I'm older and a professor myself, I'm a little embarrassed that we asked to disrupt what was likely a carefully curated final class session. He was generous with his students in so many ways.
Holly Scott & Reuben Miller
Jay was my high school English teacher. As an underclassman I remember hearing his voice as he read Macbeth to the seniors and I couldn't wait until it was my turn to have him read to me. And who could ever forget Hyman Kaplan? Jay had the enviable ability to remember names and he always called each person by name and made them feel that they were important to him. I always enjoyed any interaction with Jay over the years. He was our high school class sponsor as seniors and always showed up for our reunions since then. This year is our 55th and we will miss him.
Jean Smucker Fisher
Please accept my sincere expression of sympathy to the Landis Family. Jay was a valued member of The Tenor Section of The Shenandoah Valley Choral Society. It was a joy to have him singing with us for many years. Dr. Jay was a beloved teacher and mentor to many of us. We will miss his friendly smile and cheerfulness. Among our friends are several of his former students who give testimony to his generous spirit, exceptional kindness, and generosity.
Robert F. Jochen
I am remembering Jay from the time four us lived together during the 1958-59 school year while we were teaching at EMC and EMS. We lived in a basement apartment at the John Horst residence. - Bob I remember Jay from the visits he made to our family home in Rittman, Ohio when he was living in Cleveland. - Lena Both of us remember Jay as a good friend. We extend our condolences and best wishes to Peggy and all the members of Jay's family.
Bob and Lena Wenger - Green Bay, WI
Jay was my favorite teacher during the 2 years I attended Eastern Mennonite High School. He never failed to be entertaining, often reading to us and imitating accents that would send us into hysterical laughter. Some years later I invited him to sing in a quartet at my husband Samuel's and my wedding. On one occasion, my husband and I had returned from Mexico City for a visit and we went to my old church, Chicago Avenue Mennonite. The congregation took up all the space and out of the blue I heard the song leader Jay Landis call my name out, asking me to sing a solo on the next verse of the hymn! Many years passed, Samuel and I moved into VMRC and there met Jay often on his exercise walk through campus. We loved it when he would stop to talk with us. What a fine and wonderful lifetime friend. I shall miss him.
Judith Burkholder Espinoza
From Lois (Lois Ann as Jay knew me): I appreciated so much Mr. Landis at EMHS. I was new to the school my senior year, but Mr. Landis was a constant - senior English teacher, yearbook staff sponsor, senior class sponsor. English, especially Shakespeare, came alive to me as he read, recited, assigned passages for us to memorize. I especially remember how he mentored me as I prepared for the salutatorian speech. Thank God for godly teachers like Jay!
Lois and Evie King
I have always appreciated Jay Landis, first as a colleague at EMU and then as a fellow member at Park View Mennonite. I particularly looked forward to the roses which Jay would bring to the all-faculty gatherings at EMU. I admired him for his ability to cultivate such fragile flora. I also admired his recollections about former students, including my own children. At PVMC, I appreciated the times he led worship on Sunday mornings, and loved his way with words. I appreciated the times he read a poem which enhanced the worship service. Finally, I enjoyed the times we shared the same table at the Men’s Bible Study on Tuesday mornings. He always had perceptive observations and asked good questions. I respect him for his life, well-lived. May he rest in peace.
Ervin R. Stutzman
The service was beautiful and depicted Jay's life. It is difficult to accept the reality that I was watching the memorial service for JAY B. LANDIS, a wonderful friend and brother at PVMC. It feels like a huge vacancy, and we are left without his musical voice, diction in reading poetry, and his wonderful warm smile and chuckle. Memories abound of the many gifts that so spontaneously came from Jay. It was my privilege as an adult student in English 101 to be so graciously accepted by Dr. Landis in his class. I cherished that class. It is also my privilege to know Jay and Peggy since l963 first as fellow members at Chicago Avenue MC, then to share the joy of the birth of their twin daughters, and later at PVMC. I think this fact is correct that at the birth of Jill and Ann, Jay not only took one dozen , but two dozen of red roses to Peggy in the hospital. This family has been dear to me, and I will miss Jay greatly, but knowing that my life is richer for my friendship with Jay B. Landis.
The service was beautiful! The focus on the connection between God and Jay B. was meaningful and precious. The bouquet of roses which we saw now and then and the words of the poem, which wandered over the flower garden, always drew us back to the rose. A symbol of his life! Many years ago, likely the first time I had ever had the opportunity to talk to Jay B., I remember that he called me by name. I was surprised and felt honored that he knew who I was for he spoke my name. In these recent years, I frequently met Jay B. in the Wellness Center at VMRC. May God hold all of you in His loving hands in these days of grief. Prayers are with you! Mary Louise Lehman
Mary Louise & Wilmer Lehman
Our lives have been enriched through our acquaintances with Jay and Peggy. Jay was always so outgoing, accepting, a good listener and with a genuine, joyous greeting for all. His gifts as a teacher and professor were exemplary of the best in the teaching profession where Jay excelled. His marvelous gift of remembering names of his students for many years following his classroom years, was truly outstanding and inspiring. Jay displayed a role model for teaching, living and life. Our memories of Jay will linger a long time and not wither. May God's love and peace be with you all.
Lee M and LaVerne Zehr Yoder
Some years ago, Jay and Peggy delivered roses in a red vase to our door, encouraging us with beauty and hope at a time of need. His creativity, wisdom and love of all things so freely shared, remains, even while his voice is already missed.
We were blessed to be in his first year of teaching English at EMHS, Jay always brought humor and fun his classes. It was there he introduced us to "Winnie the Pooh". Jay married our classmate, Peggy Heatwole and has always been part of our class reunions, and a long-time friend. We read "Winnie the Pooh" to our children until they were old enough to read it for themselves. When they grew up, we read it to our grandchildren. Jay "Winnie the Pooh" Landis will forever live in our hearts. Peggy, we hold you in prayer as you grieve and remember Jay. May God comfort you and your family, and give you peace.
Dorothy & Clayton Shenk
We enjoyed this workship service and our hearts are with you as a family. May the Lord comfort you these days. We always enjoyed meeting and chatting with Jay by your side, Peggy, and will be praying for you in the days ahead.
J. Mark and Emma L. Frederick
Jay B was the most welcoming person when I arrived at EMC in 1991. I was an OTM, other than Mennonite, Church of the Brethren Yankee and a grad of Bridgewater College and JMU. He was so genuinely interested and kind to me and he always made me smile. Jay B also taught me a lot about the Mennonites and gave me the scoop on the history and people of EMC. His love of life was so obvious, he was a support and inspiration to me. Fondly, Ellen
Ellen Burkholder Miller
So glad we were able to participate in this service! Dave and I really enjoyed reconnecting with Jay when he attended Becky's senior recital at Goshen College several years ago, for which I was her pianist. Dave vividly remembers high school English class in 1960-61. One of his outstanding memories is of Mr. Landis reading aloud in class the Hyman Kaplan books. Dave also thinks that Jay may have sung in College Chorale the year that Dave directed it as a college senior.
David and Christine Seitz
Jay Landis was my high school senior English teacher, Oral Expression teacher, class advisor, yearbook advisor, mentor, and friend ( class if 1965.) I came to EMHS from a non- Mennonite background and was far away from family ( NY) for the first time. Because of his encouragement and friendship I was able to feel at home at EMHS, losing my shyness and finding new friendships. My career and personal choices were influenced by Jay. He will be missed by many. I am very grateful to have known this very special teacher and man.
Carole Schoch Bierwiler
Ann showalter watched the service together and shared .memories ofJay. What a welcoming gentleman he was! After Truman's passing I was trying to find a church. Jay met me the first Sunday and said, this is where you belong. He was right. Pvmc is the right place for me, just like it was for Jay and Peggy.
Delightful memories of JB stream into my mind from my years at EMU. I chose to take Speech Class with JB my Senior Year. He led by example as he introduced each kind of speech and then he sat in the back of the room with rapt attention as we took our turns. One speech assignment proved to be the beginning of a lifelong journey for me. I chose the topic of women in ministry. The assignment required substantial research and led me to a conversation with Ruth Brunk Stoltzfus. After an hour with her, I walked away with articles, books, and stories. I poured myself into preparing that speech and I truly believe it became the foundation for own calling to ministry. Whenever I saw JB on campus in the years that followed, he remembered my name and greeted me with enthusiasm. I always wondered what I did to deserve such warmth but I received it with gratitude. Love to Peggy, Ann, and Jill as well as your families.
Anne Kaufman Weaver
What a wonderful human being! So grateful for all that I learned from Jay and for the smiles, energy and words he shared with me/us over the years. Gracias!
Elaine Zook Barge
I enjoyed having him next to me in choir.
J. Mark Brubaker
A role model for us all. Thank you for being in my life. Your friendship and counsel meant much to me as I navigated the waters of EMU for twenty years and beyond. I will miss you. Diana
Joe & Diana Enedy
While I personally did not know Jay as well as did my wife Lila, what I do know, he was very gentle, friendly and intelligent. Lila frequently talked about "Jay and Peggy" and how she enjoyed sharing responsibilities with both of you at Artisans Hope. Lots of good memories. Sorry for your loss.
I received the following message from a former EMU German Language Assistant, Judith Hessling Kolb, who lived with us and appreciated Jay Landis: "Dear Joe, I heard that Jay B. had passed away. I know you were friends for a long time. And I feel very sorry for your loss. I still need to smile thinking about Jay B. - do you remember that he brought me roses from his garden for my desk every week? Nobody else did this in the last 30 years. Please give Peggy a hug, even if she cannot remember me. Take care and stay healthy in these strange times. Judith" Jay has been such a stabilizing influence for me--Joe--it is difficult to imagine him not present. During my time at EMU Jay was a constant encourager, affirming everyone. His contribution at many informal and formal occasions with poetry and roses added a special touch to each event. Our love for Jay will now be double dosed to Peggy.
Joseph L Lapp and Hannah Mack Lapp
Greetings, Peggy, Ann, Susan, Jill, Craig, Rebecca, Nathaniel, and Timothy: Thank you for the beautiful service. I especially appreciated the grandchildren's contributions of Jay's poetry, flute music, and scripture, and the choice of anthem and hymns. I will remember Jay as a wonderful neighbor, as a teacher and mentor to us children at Park View Mennonite (especially with singing -- how I treasure my heritage of singing, thanks to adults like Jay who nurtured that gift in us), and as a devoted friend to my Mom Emma, sharing conversations about resurrection in her last days and weeks, and bringing us his gift of poetry at her memorial service. May the love of God, family, and community surround you. May you be blessed with beautiful memories as you say goodbye to Jay. With love, Kaye Brubaker (in Washington, D.C., where the roses are blooming in profusion)
I’m grateful to be counted as one of JB’s many students and to have had the opportunity to learn from and with him. He was my favorite professor, a gifted teacher, and our guide through the history, culture, and literature of the British Isles. Many years later, JB graciously provided a letter recommending me for graduate work at the University of Arizona. I was surprised and touched to read how well he remembered me. He really did have a remarkable memory for his students. I’m honored to have known him and been known by him. Thank you, JB. You are missed and loved.
Edie Lantz Leppert
Had Jay as a teacher in High School. He was always happy which put us at ease. Feel fortunate to have had him early on. Thanks Jay Landis.
James M Hurst, Mardale (Marty) Hurst
Beautiful service. Is he the last of our HS teachers? He was certainty one of the best. Even after more than 60 years it's hard to think of him with out remembering Winnie the pooh. He couldn't read a chapter without getting so tickled that he had to stop. And of course we all laughed with him. Or at him. May you each experience God's presence and peace. Roy and Kathy K
Roy. & Kathy Good
Jay was a wonderful friend and neighbor and now we carry on the good relationship with Peggy, our cousin. We enjoyed the roses that were delivered to our home by Jay and the good conversations at the mail box and on the sidewalk. The memorial service was meaningful and beautiful.
Michael and Peggy Shenk and Janie Myers =
I remember having Jay as a Professor in the late 1970's when I was a Secondary Education Major at EMU.
Though I have always loved reading and writing, I am and have always been, at heart, a scientist. As a freshman declared biology major trying to tick the required general education requirements off my list as quickly as possible, I took a writing course at random. This, of course, led me into the classroom with Jay B. Landis - a man whom I soon discovered also had taught my mother and all her siblings at Eastern Mennonite High School! During one of my busiest and most stressful semesters of college, I found myself looking forward to each Tuesday and Thursday session in Jay B’s class. He had an incredible gift for igniting (and reigniting) passion for the art of literature in his students. I will always carry with me the sound of his voice breathing new life into old stories, in such a way that could move the spirit. I particularly remember and deeply appreciate his ability to bring incredible justice and validity to the works of women writers, especially those covering difficult and urgent topics relevant to their time as well as ours. When most of the paper debris from my college days hit the trash long ago, I have made it a point to keep all my assignments and feedback from Jay B. and that course. And as I’m sure many others will say, it was always most touching, seeing Jay B. sporadically over the years, and having him greet me with a warm smile, calling me by name. He touched so many lives so beautifully. We are so grateful to have known him.
A. Joelle Hackney
Thanks for the virtual sharing of his memorial which was beautiful.
Pearl E Zehr, widow of Floyd Zehr who was in Jay's 1954 class.
It was always with the warmest of smiles and words that Jay B. greeted me, and I believe, all he met. That was true from the time I met him as a college student until now, many years later. Any time I heard him speak before a gathering, it was with a poetic lilt; always bringing words to life. He will be remembered with such fondness! May God's peace that passes all understanding surround you!
We remember Jay B. as the gentle son-in-law of our neighbor on Parkway Drive, Dorothy Heatwole, and as the kind father of good friends and church small group members, Jill and Craig. Quite a few years later, Jay helped to interview me (Linda) for the position I accepted at EMU and served as my faculty mentor during my first year there. I always appreciated his care for individual students, knowing their names, family and hometown connections, and academic strengths and challenges. He was an advocate for each one.
Keith and Linda Gnagey
Jay sometimes encouraged me. At other times he challenged me or corrected me. He was a helpful and a good critic. He supported the Brethren & Mennonite Heritage Center as a volunteer and financially. Many of his encouraging comments came to me as President of that board. He and I spent many years at EMU and he retired while I was provost. I have never known any faculty member who was more loved than him.
Beryl H Brubaker
When I was a student at Eastern Mennonite University from 2002-2006, Jay was very involved in the life of the university. I don't recall actually having a class with him, yet he somehow made the effort to know me by name. His ability to connect with and make me feel important is something I admire and has left a lasting impact.
Jay was always a great friend to our family. I especially remember his warm and personal tribute to my mother at her memorial service in 2012. Jay always greeted Jane and me warmly on our visits to Park View Mennonite. We will miss him. Our best wishes to the entire Landis family. Larry and Jane
Larry Lehman and Jane Gatewood
Jay Landis, I will miss you. Jay was always extended warm greetings toward my family and I. It never just a "greeting" though, but genuine interest in conversation, and thoughtfulness of well being. He let God's love pour out of him, to others. He loved loved loved words, imagery, the romance of life, !!!
Susan J. King
I think I only one class with Jay as an EMC student, and that was speech. While intimidating at first since it was a mix of ages, JB worked so well with all of us. He was very affirming, giving helpful and needed feedback. I still remember some of the speech topics from the 70s. I loved his presence anytime he was on stage whether reading, speaking or singing. I also enjoyed meeting both Peggy and Jay on walks around Park View and love the flowers in their beds. His warmth and smile will be missed. Sending love and hugs to all family members.
It was a very good service in loving memory. The music was very good too. Some of us well remember class of 1950 at Lancaster Mennonite School when Jay B. Landis wrote our class song. "Onward, Ever Serving." Grace and Peace to Peggy!
Norman G. and Jean K. Shenk
I met Jay B. in 89/90 at EMC. I was a MCC Trainee from Germany in the language and Literature Department for one year. After all those years I still need to smile thinking of him. He brought me roses for my desk from his garden every week. Nobody else did that in the last 30 years. Someone like him leaves footprints in many lives. RIP Jay B.
Judith Kolb (Hessling)
In my last contact with Jay he was on his walker and as we passed each other he called my name. We had a brief conversation and I felt recognizes and accepted. Thank you Jay, Susie Versen
Greg and Susie Versen
I felt privileged to be "present" at Jay's memorial service. Even though it's been many decades since we were together at EMC and Park View , I have many good memories of fun times, sharing with Jay's unique humor. When my husband Herb died unexpectedly, Jay was there to comfort, and to honor him by reading a variety of the poetry they both loved.
As I read comments on Facebook from so many who mentioned Jay’s ability to give undivided attention and show genuine interest in them, I was, but really shouldn’t have been, surprised at it’s breadth. Jay was a master at that, and I was also a recipient. It was always a joy to have a conversation with him and Peggy. Rest In Peace, Jay. You are already missed. My love to you Peggy, Jill, Ann, and family as you transition to life without Jay! Since we aren’t able to at this time, I pray you will feel God’s loving arms wrapped around you.
Both of our children, Jill and Mark, enjoyed having Jay as their teacher when they were at EMC in the 1990s. We got to know and appreciate Jay as we volunteered at the Free Clinic. His caring, friendly spirit was easy to see there. And of course we enjoyed the beautiful roses he brought there regularly. God bless you, Peggy, and family as you grieve Jay's passing and as you share memories with eachother of how he blessed your lives and the lives of so many people.
Elaine and Dick Stoltzfus
Our thoughts and prayers are with you Peggy, Jill, Ann and all the rest of the family. We remember all the good times we shared together - the lovely meals together, the sharing of pictures and family stories and of course, there were always Jay’s beautiful roses there to admire.. With our deepest sympathy to you and with much love.
Jim and Betty Heatwole
We have good memories of Jay as our teacher and class sponsor at EMHS "58 & "59. So glad Peggy and Jay could be with us at our 60th EMHS Reunion last October. He was always kind and we enjoyed his poetry and readings. We will miss him but he lived a good life and now he is with the Lord rejoicing in heaven. The memorial service was wonderful. John and Mary Ann
John and Mary Ann Heatwole
After graduating from EMU in 1972 I could always count on a warm friendly welcome any time I visited campus and ran across JB. He was one of the most genuine, gentle human beings I have known.
Lois King Huston
Thank you for all your roses.
Clair and Mamie Mellinger
From my FB post a few days ago: Sending my best wishes and condolences to the family and friends of Jay Landis, my fantastic college English professor, and one of "time's best jewels." This reference from Shakespeare's Sonnet 65 suited Jay so well and it was his reading of this sonnet in class that I'll always associate with him. The poem speaks of mortality and beauty, and to me, even more about love, and about how art can allow us to transcend the bounds of time. For me, and I think so many of his students, Jay performed the mighty miracle of revealing love, shining bright in black ink. Thank you, Jay! Sonnet 65 William Shakespeare Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea But sad mortality o’er-sways their power, How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea, Whose action is no stronger than a flower? O, how shall summer’s honey breath hold out Against the wrackful siege of batt’ring days, When rocks impregnable are not so stout, Nor gates of steel so strong, but time decays? O fearful meditation! where, alack, Shall time’s best jewel from time’s chest lie hid? Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back? Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid? O, none, unless this miracle have might, That in black ink my love may still shine bright.
Joseph Gascho II (EMU 1995)
I miss Uncle Jay.
I first met Jay B. as an undergraduate student at EMC in the early 90s. Beyond his teaching and warm personality, Jay clearly gave you his undivided attention in conversation. And over the years since, regardless of the number of months or years between the crossing of our paths, Jay always immediately called me by name. With the ever increasing number of students and colleagues in his sphere of influence, it always amazed me how he could remember everyone's name! This is just one way that Jay B. demonstrated value and care for each person.
Thank you Jay for the joy you gave me each time we met. I will miss the sparkle in your eyes each time I saw you. Rest in Peace good and faithful servant.
Dear Peggy, Ann and Jill, we have so many great memories of Jay. Dennis says you, Peggy and Jay, were always the young cool couple of Park View Church. That must be while we saddled you with basically doing all the work at our wedding reception! The nerve of us! It's been so wonderful to know you through the years and we are thinking of each of you with love during this time of mourning.
Dennis Maust and Rachel Hess
jim Mullenex, Baarbara and Phil
When I moved here in August I met jay at the wellness center and wondered if he would know me.we were students at l m.s. 48/49. We had a great connection and chat.
Ann Marie olesh showalter
Peggy, Ann, and Jill, Praying for God enfold you in his comforting arms as you grieve... Jay was a gift to so many of us. I always felt honored and respected by him. He always remembered my name, smiled with a twinkle in his eye, and would thank me if I ever shared anything personal. I remember liking when he would read poems to us in class at EMC. I one I remember was by John Boyle O'Reilly: A White Rose The red rose whispers of passion, And the white rose breathes of love; O the red rose is a falcon, And the white rose is a dove. But I send you a cream-white rosebud With a flush on its petal tips; For the love that is purest and sweetest Has a kiss of desire on the lips.
Marcia Benner Pusey
Glendon & Cheryl (Miller) Heatwole
We always enjoyed seeing Jay at church with his ready smile that radiated from his being. He had a way of making people feel treasured in his presence. May he rest in peace.
Saloma and David Furlong
Lowell T. and Betty J. Hertzler
Many fond memories of wide-ranging lunch conversations in the faculty lounge, 2nd floor Campus Center, with Jay B and Carroll Yoder. What an education!
Timothy and Brenda Augsburger Yoder
Never let a chance to give a warm greeting pass him by. Jay will be missed by all.
Ken Neuenschwander, EMHS class of '65
I (Ken) appreciated getting to know Jay as a fellow volunteer at the Harrisonburg/Rockingham Free Clinic. I would often interpret for him if he was interviewing a Spanish speaking client. Our prayers are with Jay's family during this time of grieving.
Ken & Martha June Graber
Dave appreciated his being the advisor of the class of 1959 and being able to have contact with him after we moved into VMRC. Joyce enjoyed Jay as a teacher and fellow employee of EMHS when she was secretary there.
Joyce & Dave Eshleman
Elaine and Dick Stoltzfus
When I heard the news this week about Jay B, my mind immediately saw his smiling face and it truly shocked me that this kind man is no longer here with us. There was a span in my young life for three months where Jay B (and Peggy) were the most significant adults in my life. They were the cross cultural leaders for my trip to the British Isles which was a highlight of my college years. Jay B brought British literature to life, often reading aloud to our group as we traveled across the beautiful countryside in a coach. I will always be grateful for the influence he had on my life during that time. Sending love and peace to the Landis family.
One of my earliest memories of Jay was when I was a junior member of the EMHS faculty where he had already served a number of years as a well loved English teacher. Occasionally one could hear him from the hallway or in an adjoining room read a poem, or a piece from Shakespeare or some other work of literature, with such eloquence it made you wish you could do high school all over again--and be in Jay Landis's class. Alma Jean and I will always remember you, Jay and Peggy and family, with fondness and appreciation.
Jeanette and Herman Bontrager
Jay was a childhood friend of my father's, growing up together at Mellinger Mennonite Church and graduating together at Lancaster Mennonite School. He was a beloved professor for us and our children many years later. And yes, he remembered everyone's name! Since we returned to the Valley, we enjoyed talking about family and church connections. He even remembered my great-grandfather, who I never knew. Jay was always a very special man - interested in others, kind, gentle and loving toward all. He seemed so young and healthy for his age! I will miss him. Peggy and family, may our loving Lord Jesus hold you in His everlasting arms, filling your hearts with comfort and peace.
Barbara & Hugh Hutchens
I am so sorry for your loss. I remember that Jay (and Peggy) were always so kind and welcoming when ever we met. Jay was truly a special person. May God be with you during this difficult time.
Mary Foth Whalen
What a privilege it was to sing at his memorial service in addition to knowing him and singing with him at Park View Mennonite Church. We didn't necessarily speak much but we could always share a healthy handshake and a wonderful smile. Thanks Jay!
We moved to Virginia from Ohio just a few years ago. Jay made us feel very welcome. He was very encouraging and friendly as I worked with him at Patchwork Pantry. Jay will be sadly missed at church and in the community.
Shirley & Vern Hochstetler
We remember Jay from our time at EMC. I (Dennis) remember some conversations with him and I believe he was part of faculty team that lead one of the Interdisciplinary courses I had. We are glad we had the privilege of knowing him. God be with the family as you grieve your loss.
Edith and Dennis kuhns
So many of Jay's former students felt as I did -- that we were special to him! So quickly upon arriving at EMU, he became special to us. Every one of us English majors looked forward to taking Shakespeare with him. Oh those high-energy readings he would do! And I'll never forget our motorcoach trips to see productions at DC's Shakespeare Theater and Arena Stage. "Did you know so and so is playing the role of Lear? You'll just love him!" At some point Jay would walk the aisle of the bus, chatting with each one of us like a daughter or son. And because he taught speech and larger humanities courses as well, several thousand students of other academic disciplines were individually known and mentored by Jay B. over the decades. I will really miss his hugs and bright smile and the twinkle in his eyes. He was one of EMU's giants. You will be in our hearts forever, Jay B.!
When I came to EMU in 1999, Jay B was quick to extend me a gracious welcome. Even though we never worked together directly, he remembered that I had been a long-ago English major. I especially remember his encouraging words during the years I worked as undergraduate academic dean. And I always enjoyed connecting when our nights at Patchwork Pantry intersected. Thank you, Jay . You were a true friend! Go in peace.
We were often the recipients of Jay’s undivided attention and affirmation. More in the card which just went in the mail...
Owen & Ruth Ann Burkholder
My fondest, most embarrassing, humbling and hilarious moment with Jay was when I was working at EMHS. A DRAFT fund appeal I’d written was mailed without the appropriate editing and proofing. It got into the hands of thousands of alums, including Jay B Landis. He took the time to do a red-pencil editing, along with the appropriate corrections and comment, “no letter should ever leave EMHS with so many grammatical and spelling errors.” We’ve laughed about this many times since! And, that mistake has never been made the second time! Great memories! I will miss his frequent visits at my office on VMRC’s Main Street!
Regina Lutz Beidler
Mary Foth Whaien
It has been a delight to know Jay's daughter, Jill. She is a testament to his spirit and love. Watching the grandchildren share their speaking and musical gifts in this memorial service was a gift. I am so sorry for the loss of all who loved Jay. May you find comfort in the memories you share together.
Annika Maust Michael
I enjoyed singing with Jay in the choir and will miss hearing his voice and seeing his smile.
Grateful to have worked on church hospitality with Jay through coffee hour & loved seeing his gorgeous roses.
My earliest memories of Jay are intertwined with Peggy, Ann and Jill during the time our family lived in Vernon and Dot Jantzi's house (1970-72) on Upland Drive. I well remember running across the backyards, through the Brubaker's, to your yard. Bingo would greet me. There seemed to be better snacks at your house, especially ice cream. We watched Lassie after school. Your home always felt welcoming as we read and imagined and played in the safety net created by Jay and Peggy. When I returned to Harrisonburg as a dorm student for our junior and senior year at EMHS, I felt I had a surrogate mother and father when I saw Jay and Peggy. Ann and Jill's familiar faces were a welcome comfort as I entered the community. At EMC I floundered, dabbling in psychology, sociology, English and writing. I transferred to JMU for a year and back to EMC so I could go to the Middle East. I recall my adviser -- Jay -- saying, "Andrea, if you can write well, you can get a job anywhere." I finally settled on an English major my senior year. Thank you Jay. The advice has served me well in a variety of professional roles. And then, many years later, I returned to EMU in a staff role. And every time I saw him, he was -- without fail -- interested, encouraging and affirming. Thank you Jay. You inspire us to be encouragers, life long learners, nurturers of beauty, present in the moment, and friends to all.
Andrea Schrock Wenger
Peggy, Ann, Jill and family. With loving memories I sit here waiting for Jays memorial service to begin. My heart hurts for your loss but also for mine and for all those whose lives he has touched. So many memories fill my mind...but most of all I remember him as a dear, dear family friend. He was often in our home...almost a surrogate son to my parents, Helen and Ira Miller. Perhaps his love of roses started in my dad's rose garden. We are better people and the world is a better place because Jay B. was in it.
Loretta Miller Helmuth
I loved Jay for his kindness, his quick wit, his roses. I loved Jay for his love of words, music, family. I loved Jay for his generosity of spirit. And I loved Jay because he made time in his life & in his memory for all of us. I am no doubt a better teacher because he was my teacher. And I am a better person because he was my friend.
I worked with Jay at the Free Clinic in the eligibility department. I looked forward to the mornings we could spend waiting for the patients to come in to interview because I could learn more about him. He and I would talk about my studies at JMU and would give me advice as well as tell me of the times he was a professor at EMU. He was so kind and I'm so happy I found a friend in him. I hope he is at peace.
I am sorry I never got to learn to know Jay better. I realize it is my loss. A beautiful memorial service. Blessings on you, Peggy and family.
J. D. Glick
Wonderful memorial service. Jay was one of my favorite professors. He was an amazing man. I am grateful to have known him as a friend. RIP Jay.
Omar said- 'I hope Jay is enjoying roses.' Our thoughts & prayers are with Peggy, Ann & Jill during this painful time.
Omar Eby & Katrina Eby Yoder
Jay was a blessing to those who knew and loved him ,he was the bright cheery figure everyone needed in life ,I recall well my days with him as I volunteered at the Rockingham Free Clinic in Harrisonburg, he was the bright eyed figure who’d greet everyone with a cheerful “good morning “ ...he was the laughter and the smiles everyone saw through the day ,he brought joy to everyone that partnered with him at the Clinic and we all loved working with him .We will forever treasure those moments and miss him very much .Prayers go out to the family in this time ,but joy will be evident in all our hearts as we will see him again on the golden streets of Heaven.
Shania E Flora
Dear Peggy, Ann and Jill, I was so sorry to hear of Jay's passing, but quickly moved to so many pleasant memories of Jay in IDS classes, public speaking class, as the parent of "those twins" at EMHS, and finally so many shared experiences in the early years of the Colloquy group at Park View Mennonite Church. Know that I hold you each in the Light as you continue this life's journey, warmed in the memories of his love and life. Galen Horst-Martz Germantown Philadelphia, PA
I actually got to know Jay B later in life as we volunteered at the Patchwork Pantry together. He was such a kind man and easy to talk to even though I knew he was such an icon in our community! I appreciated how he was quick to share his smile. I will miss him. I'm so sorry for the hole this leaves in your lives. May you be comforted during this difficult time. All of you are in my prayers. Peace to you, Ronda
Our love to each of you.
Kathy and Norm Gerber
My deepest condolences to Jay's family. I hold dear memories of Jay. It was my pleasure to have gotten the opportunity to work with him at the Free Clinic, after having me him some year earlier while looking for an apartment. . He was a humble soul, and I will remember him fondly, for ever. Peggy, my thoughts and prayers are with you.
I think I had two classes with Jay B. while an EMU undergrad, probably freshman writing and speech. But even that small opportunity facilitated the kind of connection that inspired me as a student. In more recent years I also remember thinking, "I want to be the kind of long-term presence that Jay B. was so that as people come and go they see a familiar face—a kind and joyful face like Jay B."
Paul J. Yoder
Jay B taught my freshman Advanced Writing class at EMU (EMC) in 1993-94. I also enjoyed taking a poetry class from him as well as Speech, the only class my husband, Daryl, and I had together at EMU! When we returned to Harrisonburg in 2010 for Daryl to work at EMU, Jay B saw us at an EMU function. He exclaimed "Ah, well Carrrriiiieee!!" He remembered my name and was still full of joy and light as I remembered him 13 years earlier at my graduation. He lived with authenticity and an ability to nurture and grow deep relationships with anyone he met. I will miss seeing him in our neighborhood, on our walks, and on his short drive to church.
Carrie Stambaugh Bert
Jay B, beloved colleague and friend, modeled what it means and what it looks like to be a presence in the classroom, a presence for students, and a presence as a human being in friendships. No matter what was taking place around him, when he spoke to you, all else faded. He focused on the person, not himself. I consider it an honor to walk forward with his legacy as guide.
While I was not a student of Jay B., I did have the privilege of working with Jay. His office was across the hall in the English department. He would come over to the Dean's/Provost's Office from time to time. We would talk in our Dutchie accents and just laugh and how silly we sounded. What a wonderful human being who will be sorely missed.
Dawn Kreider and Theda Good
Terri Yoder and Caroline Gehman
I have so many fond memories of Jay. He was my English teacher when I was a senior at EMHS, and he was my favorite all-time teacher. There was a section of the senior English class that including speech class. I was petrified. I had a stutter that I could mask most of the time, but under stress and in a public speaking situation my vocal cords froze. I just remember how supportive he was of me when I struggled to speak. I will be forever grateful for his sensitivity. In later years we became friends and I always looked forward to seeing him when I visited EMU. I think he made everyone feel valued and important. What a gift that friendship has been. JB Miller
Wise to do the memorial service this way, rather than wait who knows how long. Always could count on seeing both friendliness and awareness in Jay's eyes as we met!
Harold N. Miller
Had Pro Landis for a public-speaking course back in 1981 and enjoyed his teaching style and his humor. I've run across him off-and-on when visiting the EMU campus over the years. He and my parents (Catherine Alger Lapp and LeRoy Lapp -- both deceased) were classmates so there was a connection at my parent's generation level as well. My condolences to the family at this time.
JB Landis was a dear Saint of God. He taught my Public Speaking and Shakespeare courses at Eastern Mennonite Univeristy. He was always sincere, thought provoking, and hilarious. He also was a great support for me when I came out. A man full of the Love and Light of God! Rest In Peace and Power Professor Landis Grace and Peace, Rev. Matthew Pearson Elk Grove, CA
Jay was always warm, inviting, and welcoming since the first time we met (perhaps at a Writer's Read.) Wished we could have spent more time with him. Thanks be to God for the life of Jay B. Landis. Grace to you and peace
Esther and David Stenson
Jay brought joy to every task and inspired it in each of us. How we will miss him!
Roses. Poetry. A ready smile. Encouragement. Conversation and connection. I owe much to this gentleman/scholar/poet/friend. May he rest in peace.
I loved having classes with him. Jay B. was very kind & caring to students. He remembered me after 30+ years --- amazing --- and that meant more than I can say.
A wonderful man who we had the pleasure of meeting when still at Thomas University. Thank you sir for living such a rich life and giving so much to the betterment of society. Bless your family.
Gary and Mary Bonvillian
Jay and Peggy led the 1992 British Isles Cross-Cultural semester that I was a part of and I marvel at their patience and good humor through the almost 3 months we were there. I was always happy to see him around Harrisonburg when I was in town since then!
Jay B was one of my favorite profs. I had him for five different courses, but Shakespeare was my favorite. He made the plays come alive. The EMU community has lost a great treasure.
Greg Sala, EMU class of 1997
We will greatly miss Jay's kind greetings and questions about family. We ask God's blessing on the family.
Ronald & Bonita Stoltzfus
Though inevitable this day would come, there’s something shocking about the news. So many lives impacted by this consummate professor who moved us all to think and feel more deeply. Sharp wit, incredible memory for what was unique in each individual, and welcoming to all. EMU was a better place with his expert teaching and wise counsel. Peggy, Ann, and Jill thank for sharing this amazing man with so many of us. My prayers are with you all. Heaven is a little more glorious with Professor Landis and Flannery O’Connor telling stories. It was my honor serving alongside Jay B and benefiting from his wise counsel. marie
Marie S. Morris
Blessings to your family as you remember a remarkable, warm and inviting Jay.
I appreciated Jay as my prof for College Writing in 1984. I also enjoyed seeing him years later whenever paths crossed, usually at PVMC, and he always remembered people well. Such a kind, friendly, gentle man.
Lela Faye Yoder
Douglas Brunk and Lloyd Bowman
Landis Family, My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Much love, Shannon Woods
Barbara and John Fast
While I was a student at EMU in the early 1990s, I had the privilege of having Jay B as a professor on a couple of occasions, as I was an English major. He was an excellent professor, but more than that, he was an excellent person. He truly cared about others -- and showed love and compassion for students whether they were in his classes or not. Jay B also had the remarkable ability to remember and stay connected to people for years (decades!) after he no longer interacted regularly with them. I feel so blessed to have had the chance to know him.
Karen Longacher Minatelli
Both of us had the privilege of having Jay as a professor and friend. Always amazed by his memory and sharp wit. You will be missed Jay!
Brian and Trina Nussbaum
He was such a delightful person! So intelligent, so gracious, so inspiring. I was a colleague at EMU, a fellow Park View Mennonite Church member and in the choir with him. I remember a special treat he prepared for me for my 40th birthday party that involved a re-writing of a choir song. He touched so many people and had a extraordinary gift for making each person feel valuable and valued.
Greta Ann Herin
Jim and Betty Heatwole
Richard and John Suter
I only knew Dr. Landis when meeting him on his and his wife's visit to Thomas University. I remember stories Ann shared on his love of literature and learning. What a pleasure to meet and know him.
JB was such a warm and kind soul! I truly appreciated working with and alongside him at EMU! Many thanks to his lovely wife and family for sharing him with so many of us! We were deeply blessed by JB and his life!!
Dr. Ru Wideman
Jay Landis was a true friend and beloved mentor. When I switched majors to English at the end of my sophomore year he (and his colleagues) welcomed me with open arms and keen guidance. Only 8 days before he passed, Jay and I enjoyed an email exchange on T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land” and its thematic relevance in these difficult times. Thank you, dear Jay, for sharing your generous spirit as a blessing upon countless EMU students and Alumni. Kirk L Shisler "81 vice president for advancement EMU
My JB story is similar to the many, many others whose lives were touched by this wonderful man. I think that's due to the deeply authentic way he interacted with everyone he met. The last time I saw him was about a week before quarantine. He asked after Heidi and my family. He asked if I was doing any theater and, if so, if I could get him tickets to see it. He asked if I was doing okay - not to make small talk - but because he was genuinely interested. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to take one of his classes, but that in no way means I didn't learn from him. He had an effortless, "sneaky" way of teaching that made you feel as though you were being let in on a secret, a wonderful mystery to be solved. He loved the subjects he taught so much they were simply a part of him. Generations of people, including myself, are much the richer for having known Jay B. Landis. You will be missed, my dear friend.
Jay B. was my favorite teacher, bar none, and is the reason I changed my major to English. I took as many of his classes as I could fit into my schedule (I'm pretty sure I procured the equivalent of a major and a minor in English!). From Jay I learned to love poetry, and his passion for teaching was unparalleled--sitting in class was often more like watching a theater performance than school. I was lucky enough to be one of the three sophomores able to go on one of his cross culturals to the UK and it was the highlight of my college experience; I absolutely loved traveling with Jay and Peggy and getting to know them on a more personal level. Thank you, Jay, for sowing your love of words and flowers and people so freely.
Jodi Nisly Hertzler
Mr. Landis was my favorite teacher at EMHS, and a Class of 1966 sponsor, which meant he attended quite a few of our reunions. He brought his classes to life, and they were always a favorite part of my school day. I remember sitting in his class in the basement of North Lawn, before the high school building was completed, and his announcing that he had twin girls. We were privileged to get to know Ann and Jill when Ernie later taught them at EMHS. Sending our love and thoughts to his family...I know he will be missed!
Mary Shank Swartz
As a shy freshman in a strange world of LMS and its environs, I remember Jay as welcoming and friendly. He has remained the same, most recently in March on Facebook when he doubted he could attend our planned 70th class reunion for this July because of health issues. We shared passions for English teaching and singing. We sang in the Shenandoah Bach Festival in 2009, the last time my husband Art traveled to his alma mater and visited with Jay and Peggy and other Class of '50 LMS classmates. He always remembered me on my birthday via Facebook with more than the simple greeting. He was a special friend.
Lois Ruth Kennel
Beauty. To celebrate beauty in all, boldly and without apology. Those words come to mind as I grieve JB’s passing and reflect over the places where I connected with him. Amidst a culture of piety JB did not shy from the embrace of things beautiful. Roses, yes, but his embrace of the essential verse that life is beautiful, words are beautiful, and the beauty in the power to be called by one's name - decades after the class was over…... My gratitude to you JB for these life verses and for seeing and calling out the beauty within us.
I'll never read Shakespeare without hearing his voice. When I read poetry I am reminded of the joy he taught me to feel with the crafting and love of words. I love writing more than I could ever have on my own because of Jay. I believe in myself more because of his generosity and kindness. I too am struck as are so many others, just how impossible it seems that so so many of us were made to feel special and powerful, brimming with potential even on our worst days. But Jay managed that with grace and style and ease. Thank you Jay for all the stories. Love and care to his family.
I am so grateful for the unbridled love of story, language, and poetry that Jay B. Landis modeled in his teaching. In his classroom, literature was a source of joy and revelation, not merely an object of study. As a student, I was moved by the tenderness with which he read aloud from the texts we were discussing. And his pleasure in good writing extended generously to his students--I can still quote verbatim a line of praise that I received on one of my papers. Furthermore, Jay B. Landis was the first teacher to tell me that I should think about grad school, that I would do well there and would enjoy it. He was right. My life is better for having intersected with his.
Christie Benner Dixon
As a first generation college student and non traditional ethnic background Mennonite, Jay helped me feel at home at EMU. His kindness, passion, care and openness made me feel like I both belonged in the college setting and among the Mennonites. His willingness to listen and his kindness helped me understand my own capacity to write, to lead, and to find ways to express my experiences honestly and authentically. Thank you Jay B. May EMU always embody your legacy of hospitality and abundant kindness in ways that create space for students to find a sense of home and allows them to embrace their own experiences held in faith and community.
I had JB as a teacher at what was then EMC. I enjoyed his sense of humor and the way he was able to carry the intense issues of the day lightly with a sense of optimism. As a small town Iowa farm boy, I was grateful for the way that he was able to value my thoughts and opinions while also opening my mind to other ways of thinking in the public speaking course that he taught and in the IDS classes. What I particularly appreciated about JB and Peggy in the years after graduation was the way that they always knew who I was, and that they were genuinely interested in what was happening in my life. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that I knew I was one of the most special students that JB had over the years, while at the same time knowing that there were hundreds of us who felt the same way.
Darrell E. Yoder
Jay had that rare and welcome ability to make you feel as if you were the only one who mattered at the moment.
Les Horning (EMC class of '86)
Jay warmly welcomed me when the foreign language department at EMU joined the Language Literature department in 1985. He was the chair at the time. He welcomed me again when I came back to Harrisonburg after an 8-year sojourn to Mexico and Kansas. Peggy had an office beside mine at the Virginia Mennonite Conference Center. Jay welcomed me again when I returned to EMU in 2007 as director of cross-cultural programs. He always had a ready smile, a mischievous twinkle in his eye and an encouraging word. When Jay retired in 2007, I tried to replace him as one of the teachers in a senior seminar which I continued doing for nine more years. Jay grew up in the same church as my Clymer grandparents and was in the same class at LMS with two of my aunts (they were twins). When I was searching for some stories about my Clymer background, Jay graciously met with me bringing along several books and a typed out sheet with very interesting stories, some of which I hadn't heard. He had a prodigious memory. As a teacher, I wanted to be like Jay. Remember names, make each student feel special by getting to know them beyond the classroom. Rest in peace my friend, my colleague and my mentor.
I only had one class with Jay in the early 1970's. However, when I saw him again 45 years later, he remembered my name right away. What an amazing memory he had for all his former students! When I went to the centennial play in Lehman Auditorium, it was only fitting that he was inserted into the play of the history of EMC/EMU. It is heartwarming that he had such a love for EMU and what it stands for, for 50 years!