Yoder Dairy  
Yoder Dairy Products Memorabilia
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 01/26/04
Thanks, Dave!
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 01/26/04
Thanks, Dave!
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 10/27/04
Thanks, Dave!

Apparently the last Mennonite dairy is leaving the scene. 
Others I remember were Colony Farms and Burkholder.  Don't know when they closed.
When urban development engulfed the Mennonite Colony they were able to extend their survival for many years by their agricultural tax status.  Finally when NN annexed the whole of Warwick Co., they were given a deadline.
The Colony faced the choice of struggling on with the tax burden, or making a structured sale of the communal property.  Their interesting decision was to sell the property in the most productive way - which surely meant many millions of dollars would be brought in.  Then the members had two choices:
1. They could take a monetary share, but remain as individuals in whatever business they wished to pursue.  I believe the local Mennonite Church continued to function. 
2. The remainder of the community would take their share and purchase a new rural site and set up again.  I believe the choice was WV.
Don't know the math of the split, but apparently a significant number chose to remain.
I remember that in the early thirties the Mennonites had a communal store on 30th Street., south side, just east of Washington Ave.  It was popular because of fresh produce and reasonable prices.  My grandmother used to go there to buy eggs.  They were sold by the pound. All the clerks were female and they all wore hair nets.
One of the old Mennonite barns survived and was made into a theater.  Also, somewhere, an old Colony silo has been preserved.
We had a few Mennonite boys who attended NNHS.  Don't remember any Mennonite girls there though.  The girls seemed to favor Morrison High School (later Warwick).  They were prominent in the annuals because they wore their hair nets for their senior photos.
Not sure all the details above are accurate.  Perhaps some of the locals can clarify. Many changes were made in the 56 years since I moved away.

Yoder Dairies to make last home milk deliveries Friday

From NN Daily Press, December 9, 2008

VIRGINIA BEACH - Yoder Dairies plans to stop its home-delivery service after nearly 80 years. The Virginia Beach-based institution said it plans to leave the last orders at customers' doorsteps on Friday.

Maria Olah, Yoder general manager, says Yoder lost 800 to 1,000 customers, about a quarter of its home-delivery base, since January because of the U.S. economic problems. Yoder struggled to pay its bills and ultimately couldn't afford buying, processing or transporting milk.

Olah says Yoder's Virginia Beach store will close after its inventory is sold. Yoder is considering keeping open its shop at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market to sell ice cream.

Fred W. Field
Fullerton, CA

- Fred Field ('45) of CA - 12/09/08
This is sad news indeed, Fred. Thank you for bringing it to our attention!

I remember Yoder Dairy.  They delivered milk to us and most of the families on Cedar Avenue.

They had one of the first mechanical milking parlors on the Peninsula.  On special occasions Dad would drive us out to the Yoder farm and we could stand outside and watch the cows come in.  Mr. Yoder would hook up the cows to the milking machine. 

On some of the visits, Mr. Yoder would give us a small bottle of chocolate milk.

- Ralph Wicke ('50) of PA - 03/18/11

Thank you, Ralph.

  John David Yoder  

NEWPORT NEWS - John David Yoder, 87, died Saturday, August 23, 2014, at the home of his daughter, Christine Yoder.

He was born November 13, 1926 in Warwick County, Virginia to Harvey E. and Alta Kennel Yoder on the family farm at Oyster Point where he grew up enjoying farm life.

His career included the operation of Yoder Dairy with the milk, processing and door to door delivery of those products.

As the local landscape changed in the 1960's from rural to urban, the cows were sold and John David turned to real estate and land development. He was instrumental in developing much of the land that was once part of the Yoder family farm including Criston Apartments and the Hampton Inn & Suites.

He was known and respected as a dairyman, developer and a businessman with unquestioned integrity and an unwavering faith in the goodness of God.

In 1950, he married Esther Mabel Baer. They were both life long members of Huntington Mennonite Church where they shared their love and gifts generously in many ways and positions. His life was marked by varied interests and accomplishments including work with Mennonite Economic Development Associates, serving as Board President of Mennowood Retirement Community and acting as the voice of the radio program Rock of Ages.

In 1996, John David, along with others, created the Yoder Preservation Trust which acted to preserve the family's dairy barn, a local landmark on the Peninsula. The barn was moved and now rests at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Oyster Point Road, where it has served as a performance venue and community events space. John David and Esther Mabel worked tirelessly as part of the folk operas collectively titled Pieced Together which were performed in the Yoder Barn Theatre between 1997 - 2007. These plays were based on local oral histories and chronicled the people and events of the Newport News community.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Harvey and Alta; his brother Chris Yoder; his son Mark Yoder; and his wife of 59 years, Esther Mabel Yoder.

Surviving are daughter Christine Yoder; son John A. Yoder; two granddaughters, Erin Mullenex (Ryan Dillingham), and Kaitlyn Smitter; three sisters, Sarah Marie Weaver (Lloyd), Erma Lehman (Paul), Twila Brunk (Ken); a sister-in-law Sara Grace Yoder Miller; as well as many nieces and nephews.

His passing is a great loss to his large extended family, the community, and his church family.

The family will receive friends from 6:30 to 7:30 PM Thursday, August 28, 2014 at W. J. Smith & Son Funeral Home. A funeral service will be held at 2:00 PM Friday, August 29, 2014, at Huntington Mennonite Church. Burial will follow in the Warwick River Mennonite Church Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Eastern Mennonite University Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, 1200 Park Road, Harrisonburg, VA 22802. Arrangements by W. J. Smith & Son Funeral Home. View and post condolences on our online guestbook at dailypress.com/guestbooks.

Published in Daily Press on Aug. 27, 2014
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