Rev. Paul Bischoff
Again the grim reaper, Death, has been reaping in our midst, and the harvest has made sad the hearts of a wife and infant son, aged father and mother, three brothers and two sisters, two of our largest congregations, our whole Southeastern Conference, and very many other friend and acquaintances.
The Rev. Paul Bischoff, whose death we chronicle, was born at Fort Wayne, Ind. on December 5, 1876, the son of Prof. R. A. Bischoff and wife, Pauline Bischoff, nee, Thieme. It is over his death at the parsonage in Conover, N. C., in the middle of life on July 3 at the age of 34 years, 6 months, and 28 days that we mourn.
All of Brother Bischoff's childhood and boyhood days were spent in Fort Wayne, where his father was professor at Concordia College. It was here that he was baptized by Pastor H. Sauer, was catechized and confirmed, passed through the parochial school, and finally was graduated from our Concordia College there in the class of '95. From there he went to the Theological Seminary at St. Louis, where he took the full three years' course which he finished in the spring of 1898. He graduated at, the head of a class of 62.
Owing to the fact that he was not strong in health after these years of hard study, he decided not to enter the ministry immediately, and therefore took no call when the Distribution Committee met. However, in the fall of the same year ('98), thinking that the Blue Ridge atmosphere of that healthful climate might recuperate his delicate health, he went into the Shenandoah Valley to teach High School for some members of Pastor F. Kuegle's congregation who were running such a school at Bethany Church, near Waynesboro, Va. This six months of school work had much to do with shaping events in the future course of Brother Bischoff's life, in the first place, it was while teaching here that Pastor Kuegele learned to know Candidate Bischoff, and became favorably impressed with him.
In the spring of '99, Prof. W. H. T. Dau was called to Hammond, Ind., and Concordia and St. John's congregations in Catawba County, N. C., were looking for a new pastor. Pastor Kuegele recommended the young man, Paul Bischoff, and he was called.
In the second place, it was while teaching in that school that he became acquainted with a young lady, Miss Edith Coyner, daughter of Mr. Theodore Coyner. About five years ago this young lady became his wife, who now bows with a submissive heart to the sad dispensations of a loving Father who allows tribulations to come upon his children in order that they may have a more exceeding weight of glory. She and her little boy of about two years are now left to sail the stormy ocean of life alone, while no word of greeting or cheer comes from his lips grown silent in the grave, till they come to be with God where, as we fondly believe, they shall find him wearing the crown of the Lord whom he delighted to serve, and sitting on the shores waiting to see his loved ones coming home.
Despite the fact that he never was physically strong, Pastor Bischoff was an able and energetic worker It was only the strength of a wonderful will-power, under the help of God, which carried him on to do the work which he did do. For about twelve years he served St. John's and Concordia congregations, preaching from six to ten times during the month, having baptized 100 persons at St. John's, and at Concordia 124, and confirmed, at Concordia 154, and at St. John's 92. Besides this, he went to Hickory and began mission work which, after a number of years of labor, has resulted in Christ's congregation there. In addition he was constantly active in conference work, and one of the mainstays to the RECORD in the changing scenes of these last years.
During the last few years of his life especially, his friends noticed with sorrow that his strength seemed to be going from him. During the last Christmas holidays he broke down completely. The congregations voted him a six-months' vacation, and the Professors of Concordia College kindly took charge of his work during his absence. In June he came back determined to try to work on. He preached one sermon at Concordia, his text being, "God is Love." His people pitied him when they saw how he labored to tell them of the God who loves us, though he seemed scarcely to have strength to do so. He preached once more--the funeral of Berry Cline at St. John's, and took sick before reaching home. On the night of July 3, he passed to his reward.
On July 6, six of his brethren in the ministry carried his lifeless body into Concordia Church, filled to overflowing with his sorrowing parishioners and friends. Many were the tears of grief that burst forth while Prof. G. A. Romoser delivered the touching funeral address from Heb. 4:9 (the text selected by Pastor Bischoff himself), followed by the Rev. H. B. Hemmeter of St. Louis who spoke of the sadness and comfort of his death. He was then laid to rest in Concordia's cemetery.
[Source: Our Church Record, Asheville, N. C., July 1911, Vol. 15, No. 7]
All photos courtesy of Don Barker
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