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Published: Thursday, 7/13/2006

Immigrant served Ohio churches as Methodist minister

MARBLEHEAD, Ohio - The Rev. Vidya S. Rampal, an Indian immigrant who was a longtime Methodist minister in Ohio, died of heart failure Monday in his home here. He was 81.

Mr. Rampal, born in Hoshiapur, India, came to the United States in 1967, according to his son, Joel Rampal. He said his father was working for a government taxation office in India and was walking in a park one Friday when some Bible verses popped into his mind.

"He came home and opened the Bible to the Scriptures he felt or heard in his head. From that point, he really felt a calling from Christ," Joel Rampal said.

He said the move to America "was really a goal of Mom and him to better things for the family."

Joel Rampal said his father's family had been Christian in the predominantly Hindu country for several generations. He said his father served in the Indian Army with the British during World War II against the Japanese in Burma.

Through a family member who was with the Billy Graham Crusade in the United States, Mr. Rampal applied for and received a grant to attend Winebrenner Theological Seminary in Findlay. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1969, when the rest of the family moved to Ohio to join Mr. Rampal.

Mr. Rampal then attended Methodist Theological School, Delaware, Ohio, graduating with a master's degree in 1972.

In 1979, a fire in the parsonage in New Bloomington, Ohio, near Marion, claimed the lives of Mr. Rampal's first wife, Shirley, and two of his children, Jonathon, who was 14, and Joanna, who was 21.

"He had a broken heart for a long, long time," Joel Rampal said of his father.

Mr. Rampal married the former Elaine Adkins in 1994. She died of cancer the following year.

During his full-time career, Mr. Rampal was a minister of the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church at churches in Vanlue, New Bloomington, Meeker, Portage, Columbus, and Cincinnati, retiring in 1990 to Danbury Township in Ottawa County.

After retirement, he served as an assistant pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church, Port Clinton.

The Rev. Robert Hahn, pastor of Trinity United Methodist, said Mr. Rampal was an outstanding assistant. His wife, Ida Hahn, said Mr. Rampal helped her husband by ministering to homebound people. "The shut-ins just adored him. He was very kind," Mrs. Hahn said.

Surviving are his son, Joel Rampal, and three grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in Trinity United Methodist Church, Port Clinton, where visitation will be after 10 a.m. tomorrow. Arrangements are by the Neidecker, LeVeck and Crosser Funeral Home, Port Clinton.

The family suggests tributes to Trinity United Methodist Church.



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