Paul George Kniss

Paul George Kniss, 94, of Harrisonburg, passed away Monday, July 8, 2019, at Mumaw House of the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community. Mr. Kniss was born May 23, 1925, in Peoria, Ill., and was a son of the late Lloy Anson and Elizabeth (Luther) Kniss.

On Aug. 23, 1947, he married the former Esther Mast, who preceded him in death on Oct. 31, 2007. He was also preceded in death by his brother, Dr. Mark Kniss.

Paul was a baby when his parents were sent by Mennonite Board of Missions to India. He spent most of his life in this country, which he loved.

Along with his parents and siblings, during the worst of World War II in 1942, Paul returned to United States. In that fall he attended Eastern Mennonite College, during which time he earned his college and seminary degrees.

Paul’s life was dedicated to serving in India with Esther, who shared his calling for mission, for 45 years under the Mennonite Mission Network. Together they planted a number of churches and established a Christian book store, radio and literature ministry in Ranchi, Bihar. He served as Regional Superintendent of Emmanuel Hospital Association. While in India, he became involved with Nepal as a Representative through United Mission to Nepal.

Paul and Esther later served shorter missions in India under the Missionary Church denomination as well as serving short-term missions in Trinidad under Virginia Mennonite Missions.

In 2009, Paul married Naomi Hostetler, who survives. Together they served five short-term missions in India.

Along with Paul’s dedication to Christian ministry, he enjoyed the fun things of life. During his times in India, he loved to hunt deer and also tigers and leopards, which were molesting the villagers. After his marriage to Naomi, he became an avid bowler and Paul continued bowling until his 93rd birthday.

Until the several days prior to his death, Paul’s ministry continued via Skype twice a week in conversation and encouragement with church leaders in India, Nepal and Trinidad.

Paul was a member of Ridgeway Mennonite Church and brought his passion for missions to the congregation and was loved by the children.

In addition to his wife, Naomi, a wonderful support and caregiver in recent illnesses, Mr. Kniss is survived by his sister, Esther Augsburger and husband, Myron; brother, David Kniss and wife, Esther; his five stepchildren, Rhoda Steiner and husband, Dallas, Cheri Garber and husband, Joel, Christina Brenneman, Lorisa Willis, and Lisa Friedenberg and husband, Larry; 16 grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews. Never having any birth-children of his own with his first wife, he dearly loved his bonus children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, July 20, at 2 p.m. at Weavers Mennonite Church with Pastors Ben Risser and Phil Kniss officiating. Family will receive friends from 12:30 to 2 p.m. prior to the service.

Burial will be held privately at Weavers Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests all memorial contributions be made to the Mennonite Mission Network, P.O. Box 370, Elkhart, IN 46515-0370.

Those wishing may share a memory or an online condolence by visiting

Arrangements entrusted to McMullen Funeral Home.

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