Back in September, during a visit to Rachel Yoder’s apartment, Grace Leatherman was delighted to discover that Yoder had placed a selection of art history cards all around her window. These cards were used by Leatherman 60 years ago, when she was a student herself at Goshen College.Leatherman used the cards in an Arts Appreciation class in 1958 with Mary Oyer. She gave them to Yoder, who is an art major, as a gift when she found out she was taking the class.
“It made me smile.” Leatherman said. “I loved it because I had all the memories which I could share with her.
Originally from Eastern Pennsylvania, Leatherman came to Goshen as a freshman in 1956. She chose GC over its sister college, Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), due to it being less conservative than EMU.
“I wanted to escape that,” Leatherman said. “I got to Goshen College, looked around and said, ‘Where are the Mennonites?’ because nobody even wore a covering anymore.”
Yoder, originally from Howe, Indiana, joined Goshen in the fall of 2015 after taking a gap year following her graduation from high school.
After visiting the campus twice, once during her senior year and once during her gap year, she finally decided to become a Maple Leaf.
“I was finally like ‘Okay, I don’t know why I keep putting this off. I just need to come to Goshen,’” Yoder said, “And then I ended up coming.”
Leatherman and Yoder first met in the fall of 2015 through the Greencroft Goshen Connection Program that was set up by former campus pastor, Bob Yoder.
“I got an email freshman year and thought it was cool,” said Yoder when asked how she had heard about the program. “I just thought it was interesting because it’s nice to hang out with other people… you learn so much from them.”
Leatherman was originally less enthusiastic than Yoder.
“She was forced into it,” said Yoder, laughing.
“I got a call from one of the vice presidents at Greencroft, Kathy Buryberg.” Leatherman said. “She said, ‘We have these students who want to be placed and I thought of you.’”
Leatherman chose to meet with Yoder, as she was described as ‘probably going to be an art teacher.’ Leatherman is a retired art teacher herself and knew she could help someone entering her former profession by sharing her art knowledge, as well as supplies.
“I actually gave her some of my resources,” Leatherman said.
Along with the art history cards decorating Yoder’s apartment, Leatherman has also given her paint brushes and lesson plans.
“That was so interesting,” Yoder said. “Especially since I was writing lesson plans. They’re so different now.”
Although the program is no longer running, Leatherman and Yoder still meet. Yoder even helps Leatherman around the house with cleaning and organizing.
“I look like I’m healthy, but I have a damaged back,” Leatherman said. “I have to get help keeping this place decent.”
“I was so impressed about what you did for me in organizing out there in my carport and the utility closet,” Leatherman said, as she turned to face Yoder.
“I got your back, don’t worry,” Yoder replied.
“She’s so great at organizing,” Leatherman said, “I can’t believe it.”
The pair both appreciate the relationship they’ve formed over the past three years.
“Last semester we went to the Ruthmere museum together,” Yoder said. “I really enjoyed that, I actually really want to go back.”
“See, that’s cool, she keeps me with things like that,” Leatherman said. “I retired from the art world.”
While Yoder keeps Leatherman involved in the world of art, Leatherman passes on her advice and wisdom to Yoder.
“I’ve learned quite a bit from you,” Yoder said. “We’ve had some good conversations.”
Leatherman and Yoder don’t get to meet as often as they’d like to due to their busy lifestyles. “I just got so busy at Greencroft,” Leatherman said.
There, Leatherman manages the art butterfly garden where she is also in charge of the volunteers who help.
“It’s a wonder I didn’t call on her to help me,” she said, referring to Yoder.
Even after Yoder graduates from Goshen the pair intend on remaining in contact, especially since Leatherman wants to know about Yoder’s employment.
“I’ll get tips from you,” Yoder said to Leatherman.
But Leatherman has full faith in Yoder.
“You’ve got a good personality for it though,” she said. “You’ll handle it.”