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Lutheran minister, Donald Burgdorf, dies

The Rev. Burgdorf was the pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Masaryktown for 25 years.

Published May 29, 2003

SPRING HILL - When the Rev. Donald Burgdorf suffered a stroke five years ago, it may have been a blessing; it encouraged him to retire after 40 years of ministering.

But the Rev. Burgdorf never slowed down. He took retirement as an opportunity to spend more time with his family, travel, take cruises and play tennis. Most recently, he visited family in California for Easter.

"He really made the most of his life," said the Rev. Burgdorf's wife, Jodell Burgdorf.

The Rev. Burgdorf died Monday evening (May 26, 2003) after another stroke. He was 67.

"We knew it could happen since he had that first stroke," Mrs. Burgdorf said. "But it was still a shock. . . . I'm just thankful there was no pain."

The Rev. Burgdorf was the pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Masaryktown for 25 years, retiring in 1999. After retiring, he served as an interim pastor for nearly a year at Faith Lutheran Church in Lecanto and had been filling in at a church in Riverview during the past month.

"It is definitely a great loss to Lutheran churches in the area," said DeLloyd Peterson of Spring Hill, the Rev. Burgdorf's friend for more than eight years. "He had the ability to make the Bible fun. He made you feel like you were part of the (Bible) story."

Peterson said anyone who knew Rev. Burgdorf would agree that one could not meet a person more kind, considerate and scholarly.

"In the years that I knew Pastor Burgdorf, I couldn't have met a more wonderful person," Peterson said. "He's the type of person you'd want to live next door."

The Rev. Burgdorf was the son of a minister. He received his theological diploma in 1960 and was ordained at Elim Lutheran Church in St. Louis, where his father had served.

The Burgdorfs married in 1960, after meeting a year earlier while the Rev. Burgdorf interned at his wife's home church in Wisconsin. The Burgdorfs lived and ministered in Kewaskum, Wis., for several years. They briefly lived in Dublin, Ga., before moving to Spring Hill in 1974.

Visitation for the Rev. Burgdorf will be from 3 to 5 p.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m. today at Merritt Funeral Home, 4095 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill. The funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Holy Trinity, 1214 Broad St. in Masaryktown.

The Rev. Milton Lehr, pastor of Forest Oaks Lutheran Church in Spring Hill, will give the sermon during Friday's service.

Lehr and Burgdorf had known each other since the late 1950s, when they both attended Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. They became good friends when Lehr came to Spring Hill in 1984. The two men played tennis together regularly, and - along with their wives - often dined out and socialized.

"He was a good friend, someone you could depend on," Lehr said. "Some people never have friends like that."

Following Friday's funeral, there will be a luncheon at noon at the Masaryktown Community Center.

Mrs. Burgdorf said that as a minister who preached countless funeral sermons, her husband wanted something upbeat for his own.

"We really want to make it a joyful service for him," she said.

In addition to his wife, the Rev. Burgdorf is survived by a son and a daughter, both of Spring Hill; two brothers in California; and a grandson.

[Last modified May 29, 2003, 02:00:42]

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