Linda Hiebert Sekiguchi
When Linda Hiebert Sekiguchi passed away May 15, the world lost an advocate for education and compassion for all, especially women.
Coming from a rather closed Russian Mennonite community outside of rural Newport, Washington, she was one of the most global thinking and acting personalities many of her friends had ever met.
Despite physical limitations which might have led others to give up, Linda was known as a determined woman who stood up for those who had no voice and advocated for women’s issues, especially education. She never wanted to miss out on anything.
Linda was overtaken by blindness in her early thirties, but if a cause meant enough to her, she would just get on an airplane and go—whether it was to the United Nations in New York City or to an international symposium in South Africa. She trusted that others would help her.
Staying close to her roots, Linda graduated from Mennonite Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas. She went on to teach elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, then joined the Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DODDS) in Mannheim, Germany. She also taught with DODDS in the Philippines.
After teaching in private schools in Hawaii, she again taught with DODDS in Frankfurt, Germany. She also taught and worked with medically fragile students in California.
Linda met her husband, Christopher Sekiguchi, while teaching in the Philippines. They traveled throughout the far East before deciding to go to Germany. Chris passed away after a heart transplant while they were living in California.
It was while she was in California that Linda met her best friend and partner of 28 years, Bruce Mitchener. They have lived in Minden, Nevada, for quite a few years where they developed many friendships and interests.
Knowing how Linda’s life began and all the things she had to conquer it is absolutely amazing what she accomplished and the people she impacted and the places she went by herself and with Chris and with Bruce.
Between the two of them, Bruce and Linda travelled to 90 countries. They made multiple trips throughout the world with Friendship Force. They stayed in homes of other members in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and numerous other countries.
Linda always took things along to give to children and to schools everywhere she went. She made hundreds of school kits every year for the Mennonite Central Committee to give to children in third world countries.
Linda gave generously to her church and groups and organizations she was associated with—not just to any charity. She and Chris set up a large scholarship fund for women of the world to get a higher education in the United States.
She was a dedicated member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). She was on the board of VGIF which advocates for women’s education worldwide. She went to meetings at the United Nations a couple of times a year. After AAUW got out of the world organization, Linda worked with the World Association of University Women, attending meetings worldwide.
She went to Israel and Palestine on a Compassionate Listening Project. She even bought a bus for Palestinian school kids so they wouldn’t be harassed at the border on their way to school.
Linda’s years of teaching, along with wise investments and selling the home she owned with Chris in San Jose, helped her have the money to do so many things. It wasn’t handed to her. She worked hard for the things she believed in. She was also a strong supporter of the Reno Philharmonic.
Linda was very active in the Carson Valley United Methodist Church where she sang in the choir, attended the United Methodist Women and was a lay representative for CVUMC at annual conference. She was always concerned about others.
Linda is survived by her best friend and partner of 28 years, Bruce Mitchener. Linda was a loving grandmother (Lola) to Bruce, Stephanie, Jack, Daniel and Joshua Mitchener, Kayla, Cassie and Kenny Wood and loved by Bruce’s children Michelle, Cheryl, Leslie, Edward and Kevin. She also leaves behind her sisters Eva Klink, RuthAnn Hiebert, Elsie Dickerson and Erna Haskins and brother David Hiebert. She is survived by nieces and nephews Lisa, Lorenzo, Melissa, LeAnn, James, Adeline and Phyllisa. And, she is cherished and remembered by friends worldwide.
A Celebration of Life will be held Sunday, May 26, at 2 p.m. at the Carson Valley United Methodist Church, 1375 Centerville Lane, Gardnerville, Nevada 89410, with a luncheon reception to follow.