John Warren Vannorsdall was born on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1924 in Washington Courthouse, Ohio. His parents, William and Edith (nee Overmeyer) Vannorsdall were both teachers. The family lived in Akron and Cleveland before settling in Berea, Ohio, where John graduated from the local high school in 1942. He attended Capital University before being accepted into the Naval ROTC *V-12) program at Harvard University in 1943. He graduated from Harvard with an honors degree in history in 1946.
In December of 1945 he married Patricia Ellis, also of Berea. He received his Master of Divinity degree at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia in 1947, and completed post-graduate work in social ethics at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, MA. He served as a parish minister to congregations in Elma and Blossom, New York and New Haven, Connecticut.
He next spent five years as Lutheran Campus Pastor at Cornell University and as parish minister of St. Luke Lutheran Church in Ithaca, New York. He served as chaplain at Gettysburg College from 1962-1976 and University Chaplain at Yale University from 1976-1986.
His final call was serving as President of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1990 he retired to Orange, Massachusetts, where he was an active member of Bethany Lutheran Church and served on the school board. His hobbies included working outdoors, gardening and riding his prized Gravely tractor. He returned to northern Ohio in 2007 an was active within his retirement community and as a member of Zion Lutheran Church in Valley City.
Reverend Vannorsdall was the author of four books and numerous articles for a variety of publications. He was a featured speaker on “The Protestant Hour” radio program for fourteen years and was awarded honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from Susquehanna University and Gettysburg College. He was also recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of Berea High School.
Reverend Vannorsdall passed away on Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020. He is survived by his wife of 74 years, Patricia; son Chris of Medina, OH; daughters Leslie of Cleveland, OH and Joan of Clifton Forge, VA; three grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
Private Family Graveside Service were held at Hope Memorial Garden, Hinckley, OH.
For the safety of our friends and family, a Celebration of Life service will be held at a later date to be announced.
Memorials are suggestion if desired may be made to Zion Lutheran Church 2233 Abbeyville Road. Valley City, OH 44280.
The Bauer Funeral Home, Valley City has the honor of serving the Reverend John’s family.
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