Washington Evening Journal

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The Rev. Louis H. “Lou” Wollenberg

Jan 27, 2014

The Rev. Louis H. “Lou” Wollenberg, 83, of Moberly, Mo., died Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, in Washington.

Celebration of life services will be at 11 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 1, at the Coates Street Presbyterian Church in Moberly, Mo. The family will receive friends at 10 a.m. and again following the service, Saturday during an informal reception at the church. Memorial gifts may be given to Missouri Valley College of Marshall. Jones & Eden Funeral Home in Washington is handling arrangements.

Mr. Wollenberg was born June 7, 1930, in Buffalo, N.Y., the son of Louis J. and Sylvia Wollenberg. He married Lou Etta Phillips in 1955, and they enjoyed being known as “Mr. and Mrs. Lou” for 58 years.

He graduated from Amherst Central High School and went on to earn a B.A. from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. He joined the Army in 1952 and was sent to Germany to serve in the Counter-Intelligence Corps. After returning home he became a pharmaceutical salesman for Lederle Laboratories in the Buffalo area. More than anything else, he loved telling stories, especially the ones about “Jesus and his love,” as worded in the church school song “I Love to Tell the Story.” In 1964, he wanted to tell the story of Jesus full time, so he enrolled at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. After graduating, he became an ordained Presbyterian pastor. The two churches where he served the longest were First Presbyterian Church in Ottumwa, and Broadway Presbyterian Church in Sedalia, Mo. He also served congregations for various lengths of time in Missouri, including La Plata, Chillicothe, Trenton, Hannibal, Ozark Beach, Moberly, Macon, Kirksville, and Louisiana. He had a passion for “telling the story” to young people. He spent many years leading summer church camps for young people, and in Ottumwa helped create a large and vibrant high school youth ministry called “The Group.” He often lent his gifts of common sense and good-natured wisdom to various ministries of the Presbyterian Church. He served on Regional Synod committees, once serving as moderator of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. He brought fun and passion to his preaching. Sermons were often occasions for joyful surprises and were always peppered with personal stories of God’s love at work in the world. He was known as a man about whom the aphorism was true: “He never met a stranger.” He had an ability to form lasting connections with people he had just met, and often ended up discussing life’s deeper issues with the owner of a Bed and Breakfast where he was spending the night or with a waitress who was serving him at a local diner. He was gregarious, charismatic, relentlessly cheerful and always preferred a hug to a handshake. When he was young, and again later on in life, he occasionally took the stage as a magician, usually to entertain the young and the young at heart. In his quieter moments he collected stamps, played golf and puttered around with an ever-evolving model railroad layout. For most of his adult life he was a Rotarian and was a past president of his club. He was a trustee emeritus at Missouri Valley College, where he served on the board for many years.

Surviving are his wife, Lou, of Moberly, Mo.; two sons, Mark Wollenberg and wife Jaci of Crawfordsville, Ind., and Bob Wollenberg and wife Jean of Washington; four grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; one brother, Allen Wollenberg and wife Judy of St. Augustine, Fla.; one sister-in-law, Shirley Wollenberg of Syracuse, N.Y.; and one brother-in-law, John Phillips of Monongahela, Pa.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and one brother, Paul Wollenberg.

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