On Saturday morning we said our final goodbyes to Dr. Henry R. Moeller who served at Central for over 50 years. Passing himself off as a simple Iowa farm boy, he was nonetheless a gifted linguist, author, and professor at his beloved alma mater. Long serving faculty can steady a seminary, and he surely was one of the pillars. He lived to celebrate his 99thbirthday in February. He was what the Bible calls “old and full of years.”
His sons and nephew lovingly recounted who he was as a dad and family member. Henry could make something out of nothing, a frugal trait from his upbringing. Never waste an odd screw or part; you never know when such might come in handy. He took the family fishing and camping, not always fully prepared for what might happen, but the time with his wife and five children was a priority. Actually, I have no idea how he supported his large family on what the seminary paid him. I do know it took many years for them to buy a simple home near Central.
I had the good fortune of joining the faculty before Dr. Moeller’s retirement in 1999. At that time he was still teaching Greek, retaining an office on the third floor of the administration building. I always greeted him as “Dr. Moeller,” which I thought proper as he was a senior colleague, and I was new to the Central faculty. One day he stopped me on the stairs (which he always nimbly took), and said, “Molly, I have a name. It is Henry. Please use it.” From that day forward I did as he requested. It was a pleasure to call him Henry.
Saints are those folks among us through whom the light of Christ shines brightly. They live in such a way that we are inspired to live better. They are usually a little ahead of us in following the way of Jesus, and their joy in doing so makes the pathway more inviting.
In his final years, Henry could not remember much about his life. He wondered why he continued to live, especially as his beloved Esther had preceded him in death. Yet he entertained with his harmonica in his memory care unit, and he inspired a young chaplain as she came to know his long years of service through his family, who remembered for him. This is what we are called to do: to remember the life of another, always giving thanks to God.
In our faculty and employee meetings this past week, we called to remembrance the life of Henry Richard Moeller 1920-2019. We are grateful for the gift of his life.
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares leaders for seeking God, shaping Church, and serving humanity and all creation.