The Rev. Harold W. Buenting, 1929-2012: Lutheran man 'lived what he preached'


CURTICE, Ohio — The Rev. Harold W. Buenting, who was senior pastor of First St. John Lutheran Church in East Toledo for nearly a quarter century, died Thursday at home in Ottawa County’s Allen Township. He was 83.

He was in declining health in recent months, his wife, Patricia, said.

He retired in 1996 as First St. John senior pastor, a post to which he was called in 1972. The previous four years he was the associate pastor.

“He was an excellent preacher and very able to convey the Gospel in his sermons,” said the Rev. Robert Blohm, who went to First St. John as associate pastor and succeeded Pastor Buenting as senior pastor. “And he was a wise man, a wise counselor.

“He had a very wry sense of humor,” Pastor Blohm said. “He just loved the ministry and loved what he was doing.”

Pastor Buenting’s wife said: “He lived what he preached.”

In retirement he was an interim pastor at Martin Luther, Reformation, and Ascension Lutheran churches and at St. John’s Church in South Toledo. He was an interim pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church downtown and urged against a rush to judgment in speaking to an overflow crowd of worshippers after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

He served on boards of the Lutheran Homes Society and Luther Home of Mercy. He was an interfaith chaplain at Sacred Heart Home, Oregon.

He was born Aug. 7, 1929, in Green Bay, Wis., to Sylvia and the Rev. Peter Buenting.

He grew up in Shawano, Wis., and was a 1946 graduate of Cedarburg, Wis., High School. He ran track and played football and baseball at Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa, and received a master of divinity degree from Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.

While in seminary, his internship was as a vicar at Salem Lutheran Church in Toledo, where he met his wife. After graduation, he served at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Bear Branch, Ind., and at Trinity Lutheran Church, Richmond, Mich.

Surviving are his wife, Patricia, whom he married June 12, 1954; son, David; daughters, Kathy Boyer and Barbara Siebenaler; brother, the Rev. Howard Buenting; sisters, Deloris Ruechel and Marilyn Becker, and seven grandchildren.

Visitation is private. Services will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday in First St. John Lutheran Church. Arrangements are by the Eggleston Meinert & Pavley Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to Salem Lutheran Church; housing services at the Lutheran Homes Society, or the Luther Home of Mercy in Williston, Ohio.