Keeping each other safe during COVID
Please visit our homepage and specific ministry pages to see how we are adapting our shared ministry to this challenge.
Grief is one of the universal human experiences, part of everyone’s life. We grieve because we love. Nothing on this earth lasts forever, but the journey of grief is a holy one. God is present to bless us as we grieve.(From the Grief On The Way 2020 Lenten series)
St. Thomas, like all faith communities, has always had shared practices to help the grieving. Grieving is a familiar path and we’ve pitched in together to help one another travel the journey of grief. We spoke gently to the grieving. We brought food. We worshiped together at a funeral or memorial service. In whatever way we could, we embraced one another.
And then – all at once – our congregation’s practice of shared journey came up against the strange realities of life with COVID-19.
How do we grieve together in this new situation?
How do we comfort one another? What should we say? What can we do?
How do we remember?
How do we ourselves find solace?
This web page is a place to share our experiences of grieving. Members and friends of St. Thomas are invited to share the readings, music, prayers, art, and memories that have brought you consolation when grief has entered your life. What’s been helpful or meaningful for you? Please explore this page to see what has been shared so far.
Jan Sinn and Pamela Smith are the collection points for this shared project. If you have something to contribute or wish to comment, please contact one of them – you can find their contact information in the church directory.
Resources for people on the journey of grief –
Grief – A Normal and Natural Response to Loss (Shared by Jan Sinn)
Along the Way Newsletter – Winter 2021 – The IU Health Hospice Bereavement Services Newsletter
IU Health Events Calendar for May 2021 with information on their bereavement and dementia support groups.
Epitaph (Shared by Karen Rohlfing)
The Arrival – A reflection to help process loss (Written and shared by Karen Rohlfing)
I Heard Your Voice in the Wind (Shared by Jan Sinn)
To Those I Love and Those Who Love Me (Shared by the Bush family in Judy’s memorial service bulletin)
When Death Draws Near (Shared by Doug Bauder. who prayed this with Bob the day before his death.)
Grief Comes in Waves, (Shared by Kim Filiatrault, with a reflection on grieving her father’s death.)
Grief and Learning a New Emotion, Gene and Gayl Laughman’s Grief On the Way reflection for March 11 2020.
Life in the Desert, Wendy Vandersee’s Grief on the Way meditation for March 19, 2020.
Surviving the First Year of Grief (Shared by Jan Sinn)
O God Beyond All Praising, sung by the Georgia Boy Choir (Shared by Karen Rohlfing)
Karen writes: Listen especially to the second stanza that says,
“The flower of earthly splendor in time must surely die,
Its fragile bloom surrender to you, the Lord most high;
but hidden from all nature the eternal seed is sown-
though small in mortal stature, to heaven’s garden grown:
for Christ, your gift from heaven,from death has set us free,
and we through him are given the final victory.”
The Gathering of Spirits, a song by Carrie Newcomer (shared by Pamela Smith)
Full lyrics are here.
Let it go my love my truest, let it sail on silver wings,
Life’s a twinkling that’s for certain, but it’s such a fine thing.
There’s a gathering of spirits, there’s a festival of friends,
And we’ll take up where we left off when we all meet again.
Resources for their friends and companions
Crowdsourcing Consolation a collection of your ideas for practices of consolation during COVID-19 (Collected and shared by Pamela Smith)
The Eight Best Things You Can Say to Someone Who Is Grieving (Shared by Jan Sinn)
The Eight Worst Things You Can Say to Someone Who Is Grieving (Shared by Jan Sinn)
On Being has run several programs on Ambiguous Loss – how we deal, or don’t deal, on loss without closure. (Shared by Karen Rohlfing)
Navigating Loss Without Closure
It’s really settling in now, the losses large and small
We want grief fo follow a timeline. It doesn’t. “Cultural stories about grief promise it gets better with time. This is largely true, but grief can also set its own messy course—feeling delayed, surging unexpectedly, or lasting too long.” (Shared by Jan Sinn)
Kris Pohlman Stewart suggests these four books to help talk with children about death –
Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children by Brian Mellonie, (shared by Kris Pohlman Stewart)
The Memory Box: A Book about Grief by Joanna Rowland (Shared by Kris Pohlman Stewart)
One Wave at a Time: A Story about Grief and Healing by Holly Thompson
(Shared by Kris Pohlman Stewart)
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst (Shared by Kris Pohlman Stewart)
A list of books on grief and healing suggested by IU Hospice. This is especially helpful with suggesting books on grieving for children and teens.
The Texture of Grief was a collaborative art project offered by the Intergenerational Fiber Arts Group. Everyone was invited to choose a rag from the basket and weave it into this frame loom in the narthex as a way of showing that individual grief is part of the tapestry of our common life at St. Thomas. We’ve kept on adding strands to the loom to remember, not only our congregation’s members as they pass, but also the deaths of those who are connected to us friendship or family ties: Mike’s dad, Karen’s niece, Jonathan’s dad, and others. They are all part of the texture of grief in this strange season.
Ronald (“Ron”) K. Brown
August, 1929 – May 7, 2021
Ronald (“Ron”) K. Brown, age 91, died shortly before dawn on May 7, 2021 at home with his wife, Georgean (“Jeanie”) by his side. Ron was born to Kenneth R. (1906-1933) and Esther E. Brown (Conard) (1907-1996) in August, 1929 shortly before the Great Depression. He was their only child. Growing up in Bloomington, Ron attended Elm Heights Elementary School and Bloomington High School (Class of 1947) where he played JV basketball and club baseball. By all accounts, Ron had an enjoyable childhood in Bloomington and was known for engaging in a bit of harmless mischief in his youth.
He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1948 at age 19, and served aboard the USS Francis M. Robinson, a destroyer escort stationed in Key West, FL during the Korean War, testing new anti-submarine radar technology, until his honorable discharge from military service in July of 1952.
After leaving the Navy, Ron attended Indiana University under the GI Bill, where he earned a B.A. in Business. His first job was with Elgin Watch Company (Elgin, IL) where he met his wife, Jeanie. They married in June, 1957 and spent the next few years in Bloomington, IL during which time Ron worked for State Farm Insurance Company. Upon being offered the opportunity to return to Bloomington, IN, Ron moved back to his hometown with his wife and young children in 1960 and began working with his mother and step-father in the family business, Paul G. Conard Insurance Agency, of which he later became the sole proprietor, running the agency with his wife.
Among Ron’s hobbies and interests, his favorites included morel mushroom hunting, coin collecting, backyard bird watching, movies, learning and sharing IU sports and historical trivia and doing cross-word puzzles – so much that he was solving crossword puzzles up to a few weeks before his death. His favorite pastime, however, was watching athletic events. Ron was an avid IU sports fan and held season football tickets for many years. Most of all though, he enjoyed watching his children and grandchildren in their activities and events – which included swimming, volleyball, basketball, baseball, football, soccer, golf, cross-country track, bicycle racing (Little 500), theatre/plays, piano recitals, and dance.
Community and country were important to Ron and he served civically in a number of ways. In addition to being a local small business owner, Ron was a proud member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks (Lodge #446, Bloomington), the American Legion Post 18 of Bloomington and the local VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Post 604. He was an active member of St. Thomas Lutheran Church, serving as treasurer for several years. Ron staffed local voter election sites over the years and was active in his children’s sports and activities by volunteering as a sports coach, team director, statistician and referee/umpire.
Ron is survived by his wife of 63 years, Jeanie, and their three children – Julie (Jeffrey Moulden – Bloomington), Kenneth (Bloomington) and Michael (Columbia, MD). He leaves behind nine grandchildren – David (Minneapolis, MN), Ashton (David Shafer, Chicago, IL), Liz (Garrett Kelly, Durham, NC), Andy (Washington, DC), Erin (Chicago, IL), Jack (Chicago, IL), Tom (Arlington, VA), Anna (Bloomington, IN) and Joe (Columbia, MD) and three great-grandchildren – Jackson, Beckett and Karis. He is also survived by his sister-in-law Karen Cline (Bloomington, IN) and extended family, with special fondness for Lily and Ziggy.
The entire Brown Family extends their profound gratitude to the IU Health Bloomington Hospice nursing and home care staff for the tender ministrations given to Ron during his final year of life in the comfort and privacy of his home. Special thanks to Jim Kirkham, his primary nurse and Lewis Campbell, his personal health aide, who took such good care of Ron. Their respect for his dignity and autonomy was so very much appreciated, not only by the family but also by Ron.
Cremation rites have been accorded. A memorial service commemorating Ron’s life will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 6th, 2021 at St. Thomas Lutheran Church for family and close friends, the size being limited due to Covid-19 restrictions; however the service will be streamed through the church website for those who may wish to attend remotely. The family requests that any memorials in Ron’s honor be offered to the IU Health Bloomington Hospice Program, P.O. Box 1149, Bloomington, IN 47402, to St. Thomas Lutheran Church, 3800 E. 3rd Street, Bloomington, IN 47401 or by taking a few quiet moments to remember Ron and his life.
“They were glad to go home, but it was with a touch of sadness, when they passed around the bend in the creek, that they said “Good-by” to their “Castle on Brandywine.” ~ The Bears of Blue River” by Charles Major. The Library of Indiana Classics.
Carl H. Ziegler
July 19, 1940 — April 19, 2021
Carl Henry Ziegler died on the April 19, 2021, in Bloomington, Indiana. He was preceded in death by his parents, Walter A. Ziegler, Ruth Elizabeth Schloemer; brother, Walter Jr., and his aunt Connie Dentzler. Carl was born in West Bend, where he attended elementary and secondary school, graduating in 1958. The 1958 graduating class was a close unit and every December Carl hosted a winter reunion for more than 40 of his classmates.
Carl attended Valparaiso University spending his junior year in Tuebingen, Germany. After his undergraduate studies, he was awarded a four-year graduate fellowship in Comparative Literature at Vanderbilt University, where he received his Ph.D. In 1966, he began his teaching career as an assistant professor at Indiana University/Bloomington in Germanic studies and Comparative Literature teaching German language courses and 19th/20th century European and American literature.
Early in the ’70s, Carl taught an English composition course for students who were deficient in their English language skills. To correct these deficiencies, Carl created a comparative English/German curriculum, “Inter-Language Concepts,” focusing on teaching language concepts common to both languages. Exceptional students from this program enrolled in the standard German course. In an effort to introduce minority students into the German Department, every summer for four years Carl took four students to Austria where they were enrolled in an intensive German language course and lived with Austrian families. When these students returned to IU, they continued to enroll in German — some becoming German majors. For the first time ever, minority students had become a part of the department. Unfortunately, when Carl was transferred to a new position, the department did not continue his outreach and within two years, there were once again no minority representation in the department.
In 1990, Carl was appointed director of the Collins Living-Learning Center by the College of Arts and Science. This position enabled him to closely interact with 400 individually selected students interested in being part of a learning focused residential program. Being fortunate to build on the strong foundation of his predecessor, Carl was able to expand the living-learning center’s mission. One of his first projects was to encourage students to raise their semester programming fee from $10 to $100. This encouraged the college to triple their commitment to the center. Under his leadership the staff was increased to include an assistant director and a program coordinator; courses were cross-listed with the Honors Division; the first service-learning course at the university was introduced; numerous one-credit courses were created; the photography studio and the ceramics lab were expanded, weaving was added to the arts program; a student photo directory became available; and 3-by-5 foot posters were placed in the main lounge to make the center’s activities visible to potential students and their families.
Without a doubt, two of the most time-consuming tasks for Carl at Collins were writing personal letters to all incoming students inviting them to the center and personally inviting parents whose sons and daughters who were on the Dean’s List to a reception on Honors Day. Carl’s efforts at Collins were well received by the University and resulted in his receiving one of two University Distinguished Service Awards and a Bicentennial Medal of Honor.
Community involvement has always been an important part of Carl’s life. Over the years he served in Bloomington on the boards of Middle Way House, Monroe County Ministry and United Way and the Ziegler Family Foundation. In addition to Carl’s board of commitments, he generously contributed to more than 15 charitable agencies in the community.
When Carl retired from the university, he focused full-time working on his 40-acre property planting trees, flowers, bushes, mulching, mowing, pressure washing and painting. Carl considered himself to have been blessed beyond belief having a loving family, many close friends, a supportive community, a fine education, a rewarding career, and good health. In preparing his obituary, Carl wishes to thank his Schloemer relatives in Wisconsin, his 1958 high school classmates, the staff and former students of the Collins Living-Learning Center, and his unofficial adopted Winters family who have been an important part of his life for 45 years.
A memorial service and reception will be held at a later date at St. Thomas Lutheran Church, 3800 E. Third Street, Bloomington, IN and at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 809 S. Sixth Ave., West Bend, WI. Allen Funeral Home and Crematory, 4155 S. Old State Road 37, Bloomington IN and Phillip Funeral Home, 1420 W. Paradise Dr., West Bend, WI have been entrusted with arrangements. Online condolences, photos and memories may be shared with family and friends in Indiana at http://www.allencares.com and in Wisconsin at http://www.phillipfuneralhome.com.
Robert Meyer Ellis
February 20, 133 – January 20, 2021
Robert Mayer Ellis of Bedford (formerly of Beech Grove and Bloomington), 87, passed away peacefully on January 20, 2021. Bob was born on February 20, 1933, in Lincoln, Illinois. He was the second son of William Spotswood Ellis II and Mildred Mayer Ellis. Bob was raised in a happy home by his uncle and aunt, Hardin and Irma Ellis. Bob married his dream girl, Janet Lee Morse, on June 10, 1956, and Janet survives him.
Bob graduated from Atlanta (Illinois) High School in 1951 and completed his Bachelor of Science Degree at Oberlin College in 1955. He then entered the U.S. Army, serving as a medic from 1955-1958. Upon his discharge, Bob began a distinguished career as a biochemist at Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis. He toiled tirelessly at Lilly for 35 years, retiring in 1993. While at Lilly, Bob worked on many high-profile projects, including his breakthrough research in developing the first artificial insulin, which has led to life-saving treatments for millions of people. Bob was quietly and rightfully proud of the impact his work has had on diabetics around the world over the last 60 years.
Bob was even more proud of his family. He and Janet raised three wonderful daughters who survive him: Ruth Bryant (Mike) of Lee’s Summit, Missouri; Lynn Titche (Charlie) of Bedford; and Heather Kostella (Matt) of Verona, Pennsylvania. Dad was extremely honored that his daughters chose science and education as their life pursuits. His constant encouragement and unending support of his children shaped his daughters’ lives (and their families’) immeasurably. Bob was even more gratified that his girls have carried on his and Mom’s Christian values and lifestyle. Dad’s devotion to his faith and dedication to service in God’s name will affect lives long after his passing. Dad also leaves six grandchildren who have been blessed by his loving ways: Dean, Amanda, James and Lauren Bryant; and, Miles and Isaac Titche.
Amateur inventor, lover of animals and nature, strategic mower of lawns and snow-plower to all in his neighborhood – Bob never said “no” to a friend, family member or someone in need. Bob was giving to all, caring and quick to help. Emblematic of his love for others was his long, kind porch conversation with a complete stranger while Bob was having a heart attack, unwilling to leave a down-and-out soul when his own life was in danger. Bob was a long-time member of both Bethany Lutheran Church in Indianapolis and St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Bloomington, Indiana. His beautiful tenor filled many a chapel with glorious tones.
A celebration of Bob’s life will be held at a later date, likely at his beloved second home, Lutheran Hills. Gifts in remembrance of Bob may be offered to Lutheran Outdoor Ministries (LOMIK), the Parkinson’s Foundation, or Fellowship Of Christian Athletes.
Condolences may be shared online on Bob’s memory wall.
John A. ‘Jack’ Sturrock
January 26, 1935 – December 12, 2020
John Alexander Sturrock was received in to the loving arms of God on Saturday, December 12, 2020. John, or Jack as his friends called him, was married for 65 years to the love of his life and high school sweetheart, Barbara. They spent every day singing, dancing and cruising around the world.
Jack is survived by his loving wife Barbara and children Scott (Debbie) Sturrock and Heather Mahoney, grandchildren Christine Spoolstra, (Evan) Ben Sturrock, Trey Mahoney, Taylor Mahoney, and Alec Mahoney, and by great-grandchildren Kellan Spoolstra and Haley Spoolstra.
Jack served in the United States Air Force as a pilot. He worked at Cape Canaveral through the 1960’s and helped land a man on the moon. He moved his family to Bloomington, Indiana in the 1970s where he worked at the CRANE Navy base developing the firing system for the Trident Missile Submarine. Jack loved to sing in the church choir and his distinctive voice could always be heard singing the bass. He also enjoyed barber shop quartet and was a member of SPEB-SQSA.
Jack lived and enjoyed life to the fullest, loving his family and serving his country and community. Jack will be greatly missed.
Alicia Marie Stewart
April 4, 1986 – September 17, 2020
Alicia Marie Stewart passed away on September 17, 2020. She was born on April 4, 1986 in Bloomington, Indiana, to Frank and Kristine Stewart. She was baptized and confirmed at St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Bloomington, Indiana. Alicia graduated from Bloomington High School South and earned degrees with high distinction and honors in Marketing, Legal Studies, International Business and French from the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University. She was also a member of the Mitte Business Honors Program. After graduation she worked for the Nielsen Company in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Alicia’s infectious laughter and sense of humor will be greatly missed by her family, friends, and anyone who was lucky enough to know her. She is survived by her mother, Kristine, the love of her life, Aaron Glatt, her brother, James Douglas Stewart, her sister Sarah Elizabeth Stewart, and her two nieces, Alexis Faye Tucker (Ronnie) and Taylor Renee Flick. She is also survived by her grandfather, Kenneth F. Pohlmann and her grandmother, DeLoris A. Stewart, as well as many cherished aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.
Preceding her in death are her father, Frank Daniel Stewart Jr., her grandmother, Katharine M. Pohlmann, her grandfather, Frank D. Stewart Sr., her uncle Karl F. Pohlmann and her cousin Timothy D. Pohlmann. Arrangements are being handled by Geo. H. Rohde & Son Funeral Home in Cincinnati, Ohio. A service celebrating her life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorials be made in her name to Lutheran World Relief at http://www.lwr.org.