Kolb, Abram B. (1862-1925)
Abram Bowman "A. B." Kolb: teacher and publisher; born 10 November 1862 near Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario to Jacob Z. and Maria (Bowman) Kolb. He was the oldest son in a family of five sons and two daughters. On 3 January 1893 he married Phoebe Funk, the second daughter of John F. Funk. They had two daughters and two sons. Abram died 15 March 1925.
Abram B. Kolb attended the Natchez school (Natchez was a small community now within the city limits of Kitchener, Ontario) and graduated from the Berlin High School. He attended Normal School and taught for four years -- one year in the United States when his pupils were said to include Orville and Wilbur Wright. It was while teaching that he was baptized into the Mennonite Church at the age of nineteen.
In January 1886 Kolb moved to Elkhart, Indiana to become an assistant editor at the Mennonite Publishing Company owned by John F. Funk. He worked there many years in various editorial capacities including editor-in-chief, and was Vice-President of the company until a year before his death. At various times he edited the Words of Cheer and Herald der Wahrheit. He also translated many manuscripts being prepared for publication, among them the Enchiridion of Anabaptist leader Dirk Philips; a translation still widely circulated among the Old Order Amish..
Abram B. Kolb was also a leader when the Mennonite Church began to build mission and educational institutions. He was an early promoter of Sunday school conferences, and served as President of the Mennonite Evangelizing and Benevolent Board until it merged with the Mennonite Board of Charitable Homes and Missions, a predecessor to the Mennonite Board of Missions.
Another passion of A. B. Kolb's was sacred music. He directed many choirs, and served as the first music instructor at the Elkhart Institute (later Goshen College). He wrote a number of hymns used in Mennonite hymnbooks; one still used in Hymnal: a Worship Book was "Christ Who Left His Home in Glory."
After Phoebe's death on 12 March 1918 Abram Kolb's own health declined. He suffered a stroke in June 1923 and became increasingly incapacitated until his death. He was buried in the Prairie Street cemetery in Elkhart, Indiana.
Abram B. Kolb was an important link between US and Canadian Mennonites within the Mennonite Church. Many of his Mennonite Publishing Company co-workers, including John S. Coffman and John F. Funk often visited Ontario, bringing American Mennonite theological influences to the communities in Canada. The Mennonite Publishing Company was a major unifying factor in the Pennsylvania German and Amish Mennonite communities; A. B. Kolb played no small role in that influence.
Abram B. Kolb collection, Archives of the Mennonite Church (Hist. Mss. 1-391)
"Kolb, Abram B." Gospel Herald 18 (16 April 1925): 63.
Hymnal: a Worship Book. Elgin, IL: Brethren Press, 1992, #283.
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MLA style: Steiner, Sam. "Kolb, Abram B. (1862-1925)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2002. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/K6442.html.
APA style: Steiner, Sam. (January 2002). Kolb, Abram B. (1862-1925). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/K6442.html.