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12-01-2019 - Joel Schlachtenhaufen Obituary
Pastor Joel Traugott Schlachtenhaufen
On Friday, September 6, 2019, Pastor Joel -- humble servant, son, brother, husband, father, friend, and guide -- passed away at Thedacare Regional Medical Center, Neenah, Wisconsin, with his adoring family at his side. Joel was born in Ft. Dodge, Iowa, on October 19, 1941 to the Rev. Ervin and Gertrude (Reiff) Schlachtenhaufen. The son of a Lutheran pastor and a nurse, Joel learned early the way of a humble loving servant.
As one of six children, he also learned how to get along well with others -- in parsonages in Independence, Pomeroy and Des Moines, Iowa. In high school, this outstanding basketball and football player became student body president on the motto, “What, Me Worry?”, which may have been a reflection of how he felt about his grades. His true passion was working as a volunteer fireman and pulling pranks on his sister. Joel graduated from Drake University in Des Moines and along the way to that degree, fought forest fires in Idaho, rode the rails and worked for the railroad in Des Moines, worked and studied in Dusseldorf and Marburg, Germany, hitch-hiked across northern Africa, traveled to Greece and the Middle East on a fishing boat and toured the former Soviet Union.
Joel received his theological training at Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, and interned in Curitiba, Brazil, for two years. After seminary he chose to join the staff of the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A. in New York City where he worked to place volunteers in positions of service throughout the world. In 1975 he was recruited to lead the team of Lutherans helping to resettle refugees from Southeast Asia at the Marine base in Pendleton, California. Through this assignment he met his future wife, Susan. After a discussion over a beer at the Wild Rose bar in Manhattan, they decided that life would be even more fun with each other and so they married on July 30, 1977. Following his stint with the Lutheran Council, Joel spent a year as a volunteer with the National Indian Lutheran Board, building bridges between Native American communities and Lutheran congregations. He continued that interest through the Lutheran Social Ministry of Arizona in Phoenix, working with native communities throughout the state of Arizona. A position as director of the St. Olaf College Milwaukee Urban Semester brought him and his young family back to the Midwest and closer to the Schlachtenhaufen family retreat, Deer Point, in Tomahawk, where he spent many happy hours fishing (but not catching any fish).
In 1985 Joel received a call to serve the Lutheran Church of the Wilderness on the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Reservation near Bowler, Wisconsin. This was followed by a call to serve St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Neenah, where he remained until his “retirement” in 2007. In addition, Pastor Joel served the summer ministry of Bethany Lutheran Church in Ephraim, Wisconsin, for almost 20 years. Before his retirement Joel was instrumental in forming the justice and advocacy group ESTHER in the Fox Valley. He also worked tirelessly to form bridges of understanding between different faith communities in the area. His last great passion was forming bonds with Lutherans in Transylvania, Romania, supporting them in their struggle to survive after decades of hardship under communist rule. Throughout his life Joel was inspired and constantly energized by Christ’s words, “Love one another as I have loved you.” He truly sought to spread that energy to everyone he encountered -- simply by loving them.
Pastor Joel is survived by his wife of 42 years Susan; sons: Stephen (Melissa Kuypers) and Andy (fiancee Liz Gardner); grandson, Felix all Los Angeles, California; brothers: John (Sally) Darien, Connecticut, Dan (Stephanee) Highlands Ranch, Colorado, Roy (Laurie) Eau Claire; sister, Sally (Josef Aalbue) Vancouver, Washington; sister-in-law, Pam Schell, Langley, Washington, sister-in-law Caroline Duethorn, Grand Rapids, Michigan; brother-in-law, David Severance, Manistee, Michigan; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, the Rev. Ervin and Gertrude Schlachtenhaufen; brother, Paul Schell; nephew, Jeff Schlachtenhaufen; and parents-in-law, Harold and Virginia Severance.
A memorial service for Pastor Joel will be held on Saturday, September 28, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 1140 Tullar Road, Neenah, Rev. Jon Gallatin officiating. Visitation will take place from 9:00 a.m. until the hour of service. In place of flowers, a memorial fund is being established in Joel’s name.
Joel’s family would like to extend their deepest thanks to the wonderful staff of the Thedacare Regional Medical Center Intensive Care Unit. They are also profoundly grateful for the support of Pastors Jon and Tabitha Gallatin of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, and other clergy throughout the Fox Valley, most especially Bishop Gerald Mansholt and Chaplain KC Schuler.