We’ve received word that Kathern Lingenfelter, wife of long-time Grace Brethren pastor Galen Lingenfelter, died August 9. She is also the mother of BMH Books author Dr. Sherwood Lingenfelter (and Grace Brethren International Missions board member).
Her funeral will be held at 12:30 p.m., Saturday, August 11 at the Grace Brethren Church of South Pasadena, Calif., 920 Fremont Avenue (Terry Daniels, pastor). A viewing will be held from 11:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the church.
The funeral will begin at 12:30 p.m.
Condolences may be sent to Sherwood and Judy Lingenfelter at 655 N. El Molino, Pasadena, CA 91101.
Her obituary appears below.
Kathern M. Lingenfelter
Kathern Margaretta Lingenfelter died on August 9, 2007 at 82 years of age in Pasadena, Calif., where she lived with her husband, Galen. Kathern, daughter of Elma Brumbaugh and George Rogers, was born in Pleasantville, Pa. on December 3, 1924. She is the fourth of five children, and is survived by her brother, Ellis Rogers of Sun City Center, Fla. Her father, George W. Rogers, was an elder in the Church of the Brethren, and founding pastor of the Leamersville Brethren Church in 1936. Her mother, Elma, was a graduate of Juniata College, and a schoolteacher for many years in East Freedom, Pa.
Kathern married Galen M. Lingenfelter on September 28, 1940 in the Leamersville Brethren Church. She is survived by her husband Galen and four children, Sherwood Lingenfelter, Paul Lingenfelter, Charlene Alexander, and Glenna Barr, and eleven grandchildren (Jennifer and Joel Lingenfelter; Carl and Daniel Lingenfelter; Benjamin, Joseph, Jeffrey and Timothy Alexander; and Ryan, Heather, and Michelle Barr). Great grandchildren include Grace and Jacob Lingenfelter, Knox and Drew Lingenfelter, and Lily Alexander. In addition she welcomed adopted grandchildren Kathy, T.J., Heather, and Richard Alexander; and adopted great-grandchildren Krissty and Korri; Nicholas and Alexander Alquijay.
Kathern was a gifted piano player, learning to play at about 7 years of age. Her first hymn was “Wonderful Words of Life.” She could play more than 200 hymns from memory, many of them up to two weeks before her death. Kathern served in ministry with her pastor husband as pianist and organist in Brethren churches Buena Vista, Va.; Elyria, Ohio; and Fort Wayne, Ind.
Kathern was also an exceptional seamstress, a skill that included re-upholstry of chairs and couches. She blessed her children with her musical and her sewing and decorating talents. She also had a high value for education, encouraging her sons to earn Ph.D. degrees and her daughters to complete their college education. Although she did not complete high school as a youth, she ultimately earned her Associate (1987) and Bachelor’s degrees (1989) from Indiana University.
Kathern enjoyed a rich and full life with her husband and family. Galen met her in the youth fellowship of the Leamersville Brethren Church, and tells how he was attracted to Kathern by her beautiful smile. Kathern remembers how Galen came to their home for youth fellowship, and she waited expectantly for him to come and talk with her. He did not disappoint her.
Kathern was still 15 when they were married, so she had to have permission from her mother to marry. She was so proud of her first son, Sherwood, who was born just a few days before she turned 17. She loved all of her children, and gave her life to their care and education.
Kathern’s greatest gift to her children was teaching them how to work and to be responsible for their livelihood. She had learned as a child how to live in the most difficult circumstances, experiencing the loss of their new farmhouse and the farm in the depression. She carried those lessons with her, and throughout her life made her family and home beautiful with her exceptional gifted hands. While they often lived with little, they never lived in want. Kathern always made sure they had plenty of food, and that they were dressed well.
Kathern’s most difficult years came with the onset of schizophrenia in 1966, triggered by change of life and stress. From that time until her death she has battled that disease, which often threatened to take away her smile. She bravely continued to support her husband in church ministries, and after he retired, she continued to play the piano at any church that made her welcome. She loved the Lord, and loved to help others sing praises to him.
Several songs were precious to her in the last year of her life. She often played “My Jesus I Love Thee” on the organ in her home, and called it her theme song. She learned the chorus, “Gentle Shepherd,” during that last year, and often asked Sherwood to sing it while she played. A life long favorite was “Ivory Palaces” which she remembered as a duet sung by her mother and father. She played and Sherwood sang “Rock of Ages” because that was Galen¹s favorite.
As she reached the close of her life, she played the piano for anyone who would listen in Regency Park. They called her the “piano lady.” As she felt her life coming to a close, “Face to Face” became her daily theme song, and she played “When they Ring Those Golden Bells” with great intensity and beauty. Many of the patients would come to the piano and watch her hands, beautiful hands, with long fingers, streaming across the keys, bring to life the music that lived in her beautiful mind.
Kathern died of complications due to aging in Regency Park – El Molino in Pasadena. She is indeed “Face to Face” and living and breathing new music that she could only dream of in this life. Her family rejoices that she is with the Lord Jesus Christ that she loved and worshipped all through her teen and adult life.