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Gilbert Paul Blomenberg, 94 of Seward, Nebraska, died May 13, 2012 in York, Nebraska.
Gilbert was born on January 20, 1918, to Martin Conrad and Esther Johanna (Preuss) Blomenberg at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne.
Shortly after his baptism, his parents moved to the Blomenberg farm located near Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Preble Township, between Decatur and Poe, to reside with his paternal grandparents, Friederich and Wilhemine (Witte) Blomenberg.
He received his elementary education at the church school, where instruction was in English and ‘high’ German, but ‘low’ German reigned during recess. He was confirmed on March 20, 1932, by his maternal grandfather, the Rev. C.B. Preuss, who selected Psalm 23 as his confirmation verse. Gilbert requested that his funeral sermon be based on this psalm.
He was one of five students in the school’s first eighth grade class, which had been added at his father’s prompting. In spite of concern by some in the community as to the school’s academic strength, the quality of its education program was validated when Gilbert placed first in Adams County on the State of Indiana compulsory exam. His performance resulted in his being chosen to carry the American flag in the annual Calithumpian Parade, an experience he remembered fondly.
He attended high school and college at Concordia College, now Concordia University Chicago, in River Forest, Illinois where he studied to become a Lutheran school teacher in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). He achieved the rare distinction of being the top student in his classes throughout his academic years, and honed his musical ability on the piano and organ. When he entered Concordia, the college had a two-year program, but during his tenure this was expanded to a four-year program with his class being the first to complete the additional requirements.
He graduated June 12, 1940 with a Bachelor of Education and accepted a call to the Lutheran elementary school in Waynesboro, Virginia, where he taught the first half of the 1940-41 school year. He then accepted a call to St. Peter’s Lutheran School in Columbus, Indiana, where he completed the remainder of that school year.
At St. Peter’s, he developed a close working and personal relationship with his mentor, T.J. Koch, who was the talented senior teacher as well as an accomplished musician and artist. Gilbert soon fell in love with T.J’s daughter, Bertha Marie Koch, who was born on November 12, 1917, and they were married on August 29, 1943, at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. God blessed this marriage with eight children, all of whom were born in Columbus.
He eventually became the principal of St. Peter’s Lutheran School, concurrently serving as the eighth grade teacher, church organist and choir director, and instructor of adult Bible Class teachers. In later years, teachers he had mentored at St. Peters wrote to thank him for his encouragement and help.
He received his Masters of Arts in Education at Indiana University in Bloomington, on June 18, 1951, and continued studies towards a doctorate during the following years.
In 1960 he accepted a Call to be a professor at Concordia Teachers College, now Concordia University, in Seward. The family moved into “Big Yellow”, a grand home built in 1905 on the corner of 2nd and Roberts Streets and used by the college for faculty housing. Big Yellow was later purchased by Gilbert and Marie, and prevails as the family home in Seward.
Typically known as “Gil” by his Concordia colleagues, he would spend the next 26 years teaching at Concordia. Christian and higher education, along with music, were always emphasized in the Blomenberg household. All eight Blomenberg children attended, and most graduated from, Concordia Teachers College.
Gilbert ended his academic career in 1986, and filled his retirement years in Christian fellowship with family and friends, researching family genealogy, traveling in Germany, translating historical family letters written in the old German script, listening to his vast library of classical music, and playing his Steinway piano. He was a faithful member of the Seward Kiwanis Keytones, a male chorus group, for many years.
He was blessed to spend his last months while on Hospice in the loving care of Andrea, his youngest daughter, and Drew Woodburn and their family in York, Nebraska.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Marie, on June 3, 2002; daughter, Sarah, on July 1, 2005; and son, James, on April 13, 2009.
Survivors include his sons, Dr. Ted (Theodore) and Sandy (Saundra Niedens) Blomenberg of Decatur; John and Susan Ann (Krieser) Blomenberg of Seward; and Dr. Daniel and Deanna (Lawson) Blomenberg of Norfolk, Neb.; daughters, Dr. Paula Blomenberg and Chuck (Charles) Rager of Tampa, Fla.; Rhoda and Dr. (Dominick) Toulouse of Seattle; and Andrea and Drew of Woodburn of York; daughter-in-law, Janeen (Miller) widow of the late James Blomenberg of Columbus, Indiana; 29 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.
Services will be held Saturday, May 19, at 10 a.m., at St. John Lutheran Church in Seward.
A graveside service will be held Tuesday, May 22, at 2 p.m., at his childhood congregation, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Friedheim, near Decatur.
Internment will be at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Friedheim, Cemetery beside his wife, Marie.
Memorials may be made to Concordia University, 800 N. Columbia, Seward, NE 68434, to the T.J. Koch Memorial Scholarship Fund at Concordia University, at the same address, or to the donor's choice.