Schmalenberger, Jerry


Rev. Dr. Jerry L.

Jan. 23, 1934 - April 25, 2022

Husband, father, grandfather, friend, pastor, professor, mentor and missionary, the Rev. Dr. Jerry Lew Schmalenberger's

humor and zest for life will be remembered long after his death on April 25, 2022. Pastor Jerry, as he liked to be called, passed away at the age of 88 after a courageous battle with dementia and Parkinsonism. Jerry had enjoyed traveling, boating, skiing, writing, poetry, sharing the word of God, and helping others. He was the pastor of five congregations in Springfield, Bellefontaine, Tiffin and Mansfield, Ohio, and St. John's in Des Moines, Iowa. He was then elected President and Professor of Practical Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California, 1988-1996. After retirement he taught several more years there before serving sixteen years as a Global Mission Volunteer for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, teaching in many countries including Indonesia, China/Hong Kong, Germany, Liberia, West Africa, and three South American countries. He was pleased that 33 of his former students are now teaching theology and helped some of them by email from home. He was also the author of thirty-five books and many articles, some which were translated into Bahasa Indonesian, Spanish, or Chinese.

Born at home in Greenville, Ohio, the son of Harry Henry and LimaMarie Hormell Schmalenberger, he cherished vivid memories of his childhood with five years on their small farm. After attending a one room school during his time on the farm, the family moved to town again where he attended junior and

senior high school. During summers, he worked at the synod's Camp Mowana at Mansfield, first as counselor and nature study teacher. Later he became Program Director, spending seven summers there but promoting it year around. His father was fighting leukemia and became unable to work, so his mother continued to work as a registered nurse at the hospital to support the family. Jerry went to work in the local

bakery at night while attending high school in the daytime. He was president of his junior and senior classes, took part in football, coaching Jr. High basketball, debate, speech, and drama activities.This was the beginning of his life-long habit of multi-tasking.

After his father's death, the staunch support of his pastor, the Rev. Christian Wessel, DD, steered him toward further education for a life in ministry along with five other boys in the

congregation. While at Wittenberg, Jerry continued to work in his sister's bakery in Oakwood near Dayton at nights, often arriving for class to be teased for his flour-covered pants.

After taking part in debate, speech competitions and campus drama, he then had the privilege during his first year in seminary to participate in the dedication of the dramatic new chapel on Wittenberg's campus by playing the role of Becket in the drama Murder in the Cathedral.

Jerry graduated from Wittenberg University with a B.A. in 1956; the on-campus Hamma School of Theology with Master of Divinity 1959 and Doctor of Ministry in 1976. Wittenberg also awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1983. He served on the Board of Directors of Wittenberg for 19 years.

Following seminary, Schmalenberger was ordained in 1959 by the Synod of Ohio of the United Lutheran Church at Greenville, Ohio, in his home church, St. Paul's, where he was

baptized and confirmed, on his birthday January 23.

At Springfield's then Third Lutheran Church at Center and Liberty, he had been youth director during seminary. When he became eligible for ordination, the church asked to be considered as his first parish. Beginning there in February 1959, his first baptism was his niece. He continued the large youth group. While pastor there the congregation bought a used bus used for youth activities and transporting Wittenberg

students to church. The church basement became a "teen

den" for the neighborhood. When two of his catechism

students needed a home, the Oesterlen Lutheran Home decided to let the Schmalenbergers become their foster parents, the first of many.

He is survived by his wife of sixty-five years, Carol Walthall Schmalenberger, his sister Doris Stickel (Ray), three natural children: Stephen Schmalenberger (Sheila Batt), Bethany

Berger, and Sarah Layton Wallace (Steven); foster children,

including Gene Schneider, Celia Mellad (Kirk), Marylynn

Hartsel (Steven), Beatriz Simonassi, Lorpu Davies Wolofar (Isaac) and many grand and great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He was pre-deceased by his parents, older sister Jane Ross and sons Arthur Eubanks (Pam) and James Schneider (Robin).

Celebration of Life Service

Monday, May 16, at 1:00 p.m. Weaver Chapel, Wittenberg University, 200 W. Ward St., Springfield, Ohio 45504. Reception to follow.

His ashes will be placed in the Fountain Garden columbarium of Ferncliff Cemetery at Springfield, Ohio, near the campus.

For those who wish to donate in his memory:

Jerry L. Schmalenberger Endowed Scholarship at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, P.O. Box 525, Berkeley, CA 94701 or

Wittenberg University, P.O. Box 720, Springfield, Ohio 45501 or

Friends of Lutheran Theological Seminary, Hong Kong. Send to Books with Numbers - Mimi Borchers, 2730 Lone Tree Way, Antioch, CA 94509. Jerry raised funds for this organization.

Doctors Without Borders at donate.doctorswithoutborders whose work he witnessed in his travels.

Sign the guestbook at