Paul Gerhardt Grotelueschen, 84, of Colorado Springs, Colo., formerly of River Forest, died at home on Dec. 20, 2011 after a brief battle with liver cancer. Born in Carlinville on Dec. 8, 1927 to Paul H. Grotelueschen, a Lutheran teacher and principal, and Esther Kuehnert Grotelueschen, he spent most of his youth in Wausau, Wis. He completed his last two years of high school at Concordia in River Forest.
With the exception of two terms of military service, he spent all but the final four years of his life deeply involved in the River Forest community, raising a large family on Ashland Avenue, living, working, worshipping, teaching, coaching Little League for many years, enjoying wonderful neighbors, and playing bridge with dear and special friends.
In 1945, he joined the army and attended a specialized training program at Michigan College of Mining and Technology before being commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant at Ft. Benning, Ga. He was then shipped to a broken and battered post-war Japan in 1946, serving there in the 7th Cavalry Regiment.
In 1948, he left the army and returned to complete his degree in English from Concordia Teachers College. In 1950, he was teaching fourth grade at Grace Lutheran School in River Forest when, as a reservist, he was recalled for active duty during the Korean War, and in 1951 was sent to Fulda, Germany for two years. In 1953 he returned to River Forest, completed graduate studies at the Northwestern University School of Speech, and continued his graduate work there for all but his dissertation.
He joined the faculty at Concordia and for the next 46 years, with joy, taught courses in public speaking, communications, American public address, group dynamics, speech correction for the classroom teacher, and film appreciation. He also directed college theater productions of dramas, musicals and children’s plays for many years and served on numerous faculty committees. He was known as a superb teacher who cared more about teaching than publishing, and more about his students and colleagues than his reputation as a scholar.
In 1956, he married Joan Bierlein of Grand Rapids, and they were blessed with 55 years together. They loved many children, some of whom were born to them, others adopted, and yet others who were official and unofficial foster children who stayed for various lengths of time.
A gentle and loving father, he taught his children about the God who loved them, a world that needed their service, and a life filled with learning, laughter and love. For 15 years he coached his children’s Little League teams in River Forest, and over the years attended a bewildering number of his kids’ and grandkids’ baseball, football, basketball, tennis, softball, wrestling, volleyball and track meets, matches and games — in addition to their plays, concerts, and other events. Though a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals and Green Bay Packers fan, his favorite sporting events were those in which his kids and grandkids were playing.
He also loved attending chapel and events at Concordia University and Walther Lutheran High School, long after he retired. Christian education was his life’s work and his passion, as he believed that children should be taught by loving teachers who saw each child not just as a student, but as a truly precious child of God.
He retired from Concordia in 1999 and in October 2007, he and his wife pulled up deep roots and moved to Colorado Springs. He loved to read history, visit with family and friends, and tell stories about growing up in the Great Depression, traveling around the world in 1969, and his many experiences as the seasons of life changed.
Father to seven children, 23 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, Paul Grotelueschen is survived by his wife, Joan; his children, Kit San (Patrick) Vaughan, Lt. Col. Paul (Sherri), Seth (Laurie), Lt. Col. Mark (Allison), and Mia (Bob) Koehne; his grandchildren, Jennifer, Michael, Luke, Paul, Christopher, Seth Micah, Andrew, Jonathan, Emily, Erin, Kimberly, Rachel, Aaron, Miriam, Bethany, Abigail, Grant, Faith, Caleb, Leslie, Katie, Samuel, and Noah; his great-grandsons, Matthew, Bobby and Daniel; his son-in-law, Tim Ravencroft; two sisters, Ruth (Herbert) Hohenstein and Lois (Ronald) Kasten; and many nephews, nieces, cousins, godchildren, and friends. Two of their precious children preceded him to heaven: Christopher (age 12 in 1978) and Julie (age 49 in 2010).
His funeral service was held on Jan. 4 at Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Monument, Colo., followed by interment at Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs.