From a 1954 Mission House Mirror

This time we have been blessed with Mission House history from Rev. Howard Kusler '56. Howard opened one of his library books and found in it a copy of the December 10, 1954 issue of the Mission House Mirror. Just think--that issue was published 57 years ago. A dominant part of that issue was devoted to the sudden and tragic death of Senior Seminarian Clarence H. Ortlepp '52. Clarence, 24, was wounded while deer hunting. A shotgun slug entered his left hip and pierced his abdomen. Peritonitis set in following the operation and death followed.

Even 57 years later, one finds it difficult to understand why such a thing happened. Why was a 24-year-old Senior Seminarian plucked away from us without ever having practiced even one day as an ordained servant of Christ? There are some things in life which are not given for us to understand.

Two faculty members shared sympathetic comments in that issue:

Dr. Arthur Krueger: “Our campus has sustained a great loss in the death...of Clarence Ortlepp. His radiant personality, his exemplary character, made him an effective friend of us all. Even in the hours of his suffering, he behaved as a member of Christ. We...share a letter from Sister M. Helene of the Divine Saviour Hospital of Portage, Wisconsin: "We wish to express sincere sympathy to you and to all the members of the faculty and student body on the demise of Mr. Ortlepp. His conduct during the excruciating pains of the last hours of his life was certainly edifying; he proved a credit to his good and to the training he has received at Mission House. At a time when the great majority of patients would be cursing and rebelling against the designs of God, Mr. Ortlepp talked of playing basketball and later repeated 'Our Father' over and over again. Someone has said: 'Old age and sickness does not make us over; it just shows what we really are.' If this is true, we had the privilege of witnessing the blossoming of a beautiful character--a soul close to God. He made light shine, and it blessed many."

Dr. Fred Herzog: "I see [Clarence] sitting before me in the classroom, [his] eyebrows somewhat raised, searching the mysteries of God: Why He chose us to be His people, how freedom is subject to His will, why we cannot save ourselves, why Jesus Christ had to die. [His] mind was not quickly put to ease on these matters. Yet, in the end [he] always chose faith, being well aware of how limited we are intellectually to fathom the mysteries of God. Frequently a glimpse of hope flashed in [his] eyes that some day [he] would know better and understand more fully.

Now [he] knows better and understands everything--now [he] knows the complete joy of being alive. No more frowning! We who are left behind are inclined to say: What a pity! He was so young! I wish [he himself] could take care of this matter. I have an idea, though; [he] would tell us that it is not threescore and ten or fourscore years which makes for the completion of life. Life is complete in Jesus Christ, isn't it, and therefore also [in him since he was Christ's.] This faith gives me much comfort.

I was often reminded of I Cor. 15:44 where Paul proclaims that 'it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.' Our faith is in the risen lord. Cannot this faith give us a foretaste of our final fellowship in God's kingdom as those whom he has already raised to everlasting life? Am I speaking a mystery? It is not as though [Clarence] never died. To me [he] did not die. For I do trust in the Word of the Lord: 'I  am the resurrection and the life: and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die.' In Jesus Christ we are still living together and, I am almost certain, [he is] studying theology, only now [he is] working at it from the other side, without frowning."

The truths of 57 years ago written by Dr. Krueger and Dr. Herzog are still the truth today. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the Word of the Lord abides forever." Here, once again, we have evidence of the significant influence the Mission House has had upon all of us. Soli Deo Gloria!

Rev. Dr. Carroll Olm '46 '86

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