Donald Ziemke PhD. | obituary


June 21, 1929
June 16, 2022

Donald C. Ziemke PhD.
Donald Charles Ziemke died June 16, 2022 at the Pillars of Mankato, surrounded by his wife Lora Lee (Lori) Ruthenbeck and children.
Don was born June 21, 1929 in Queens, New York to Henry and Dorothy Ziemke. Don was married to Bernadine (Dene) Anderson from 1954 until his death in 2009. Don and Dene had three children, Karin, Peter and Judie. He met Lora Lee (Lori) Ruthenbeck after moving to Mankato to be near her daughter and family. Don and Lori married in 2010 and resided in Mankato and Bonita Springs, Florida.
Don was an only child but grew up with an extended family on Long Island. He played basketball in high school and graduated from Oceanside High School. He had a lifelong passion for education and music, which began in New York and followed him to Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, where he immersed himself in Bible studies and languages, including German, Latin, Greek and Swedish. Don studied at Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary (now Trinity Lutheran Seminary) in Columbus and was ordained a minister in the American Lutheran Church. After graduating, Don attended Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, NJ, where he earned a Doctor of Divinity degree in 1960, graduating magna cum laude. His doctoral dissertation was published as Love for the Neighbor in Luther’s Theology, and he regularly contributed essays and book reviews to Lutheran and New Testament journals. He was a member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, the American Society for Reformation Research, and other scholarly and professional organizations.
Don’s career included both teaching and administration. His teaching began at Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, and continued at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. Don was later appointed chair of the religion department at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. He then pursued graduate studies in university administration on a Carnegie Institute fellowship at the University of Michigan. In 1967 he was appointed dean of students at Nasson College in Springvale, Maine, and in 1970 dean of faculty at Fontbonne College in St. Louis Missouri. Don then served as president of Missouri Valley College from 1975 to 1979.
After leaving Missouri Valley College, the family returned to St. Louis, where Don and Dene purchased and renovated a historic Lafayette Square townhouse. Don began a second career as a Certified Financial Planner which he continued for the next 20 years until his retirement.
Don is survived by his wife, Lori Ruthenbeck, his three children, Karin Wheeler, Peter (Amy) Ziemke and Judie Ziemke Bjorling; seven grandchildren, Benjamin (Erin) Wheeler, GySgt Daniel (Veronica) Wheeler USMC, David Humphrey, Samantha (Tommy) Wojtowicz, Blake Ziemke, Clayton Ziemke and Tobias Ziemke; and a great-grandson, Jacob Wheeler. He is also survived by Lori’s sons, Paul (Robin) Hart Ruthenbeck, Joel (Anita) Ruthenbeck and their families.
A private family service will be held June 30 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church with Pastor Jay Dahlvag officiating. The family prefers memorials to be donated to Bethlehem Lutheran Church or at the donor’s option.

Published on June 24, 2022


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