EMU recognizes couple’s generosity

Story by Jim Bishop

photo6.gifEastern Mennonite University has named a Hagerstown, Md., couple its 2007 recipient of the Margaret Martin Gehman “philanthropist of the year” award in recognition of their generous support of EMU.
Lewis M. Cross and Mary Coss were recognized at an Oct. 12 donor appreciation banquet on campus “for exemplifying the spirit of generous (financial, prayer and moral) support of the university for many years.”

The award, in its second year, is named for Dr. Margaret Martin Gehman, who taught art and physical education at EMU from 1944 until her retirement in 1987. She continues to serve regularly as a volunteer on campus and with other local organizations and has been a long-time strong financial supporter of the university.

The couple established the Lewis M. and Mary L. Coss church leadership endowed scholarship in 1994 to assist seminary students preparing for pastoral ministry. To date, $28,500 has been awarded from this fund.

They have contributed to the seminary annual fund and to the Augsburger Chair, named for EMU president emeritus Myron S. Augsburger, and have given to several capital projects, including sponsorship of a room in the seminary building and the Northlawn dormitory renovation. They have also designated EMU as the recipient of a charitable remainder unitrust.

Lewis and Mary have also supported EMU through leadership voluntarism as members of the President’s Partnership Council, 1992-2001.

They have attended the past 16 donor appreciation events on campus and a similar number of the annual School for Leadership Training programs held in January at Eastern Mennonite Seminary.

Lewis is retired after pastoring at Community Mennonite Church in Hagerstown, where he and Mary have been involved for 35 years.

They owned and operated a furniture and appliance store in Hagerstown 17 years.

They have attended Mennonite World Conference four times, most biennial general assemblies of the Mennonite Church and have participated in more than 20 annual meetings of Mennonite Economic Development Associates.

The couple celebrated 55 years of marriage in March this year. They have four children – Cheryl and Nelson Lehman, Twila and Darrel Eberly, Dwayne and Christa Coss, Dwight (deceased) and six grandchildren.

“We are grateful for the many ways in which Lewis and Mary Coss exemplify the spirit of generous, cheerful philanthrophy through their generous support of EMU,” president Swartzendruber said.


Jim Bishop is a regular contributor to The Augusta Free Press.

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