Dapper in his suit and blue plaid beret, the Rev. Albert Lindeman is a regular at church and bible study classes at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Lake Ozark where everyone knows him as Pastor Al.
Dapper in his suit and blue plaid beret, the Rev. Albert Lindeman is a regular at church and bible study classes at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Lake Ozark where everyone knows him as Pastor Al. The centenarian, a retired Lutheran minister and military chaplain for nearly 30 years, will turn 101 on April 19, the day before Easter. A family get-together with his four sons and their wives, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren will take place on Mother’s Day weekend when all members of the large family can be present.
A long career dedicated to his Christian profession that spanned 54 years of history and several wars was recalled recently by Pastor Al and three of his sons, Michael, Marty and Mark at Lake Meadows Home in Osage Beach where Pastor Lindemann has resided since July 2012. A fourth son, David, is a Lutheran minister in Scottsdale, Ariz. Active until age 99 when he fell and broke a hip, Pastor Lindemann recalls many highlights from his past as if they were yesterday and is quite entertaining when recounting them.
Born in the spring of 1913 in Cullman, Ala., near Birmingham, he was the son of a blacksmith and homemaker and had an older sister and younger twin sisters. Raised in a frugal household, he recalls learning the alphabet from letters his mother cut from oatmeal boxes. His father, unwilling to adjust to the modern age of automobiles and become a mechanic when horse traffic became outmoded, moved the family to Chattanooga, Tenn., to work for the Southern Railroad when young Albert was eight years old. The move would serve the family well.
Albert’s pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Chattanooga was so impressed with his prolific ability to memorize the scriptures (550 Bible verses during Confirmation) that he recommended Albert for a scholarship to St. Paul’s Lutheran College, a Lutheran boarding school that included both high school and college. So, at age 13, young Albert took the train to Concordia, Mo., to begin a new life.
Upon graduation from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis in 1936, Albert and his fellow graduates faced a dilemma. It was the Depression and there were no calls for the young ministers. Out of the class of 150, only one pastor received a call.
Let down by their seminary, (the director told them “The Holy Spirit has your address and when he needs you, he’ll call you”), the young pastors had to find work where they could. In Albert’s case it was selling vacuum cleaners door to door.
Money was tight and sales were few and far between, but Al had met a young woman in St. Louis who had stolen his heart. Her name was Viola (Vi). She was beautiful and she played the piano just as beautifully, he recalled. This would be quite an asset as a pastor’s wife. Because he had a Friday night date with Vi, Albert asked his sales manager to follow up on a couple of his hottest sales leads. The manager did and sold two vacuum cleaners to Albert’s customers and that ended his vacuum cleaner career.
During the four years Albert and Viola courted, before they could afford to get married, Albert served as a “stringer” for the church, traveling to Lutheran congregations throughout the country that had vacancies to preach for them.
After the couple married in 1940, Vi worked at Kresge’s Five and Dime in St. Louis and was able to get Albert a job as a floor salesman. Later he was promoted to Window Dresser at the Kresge store in Hannibal, Mo., a position he excelled at, with Vi’s help.
When a call finally came for Al in 1942 to work with the youth at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Hannibal, he faced a dilemma: to remain in a higher paying job at Kresge’s or to become an ordained Lutheran minister. The Church won over and Albert was ordained at St. John’s in 1942, six years after his seminary graduation.
Albert’s career as a pastor was again interrupted, this time by World War II. In 1942 the Army wanted “athletic ministers” and he enlisted and was sent to Chaplain School at Harvard University. Vi went with him to Cambridge and after his training Albert was sent to the South Pacific leaving behind a wife and as yet unborn son, Michael, born in 1944 while he was overseas.
Scheduled for a fourth and potentially fatal amphibious landing to take the main island of Japan, plans were changed when the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, forcing its surrender. Chaplain Lindemann then became a participant in the first occupation of Japan.
In 1947, Albert became one of the first chaplains in the brand new Air Force, serving at Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, La. In 1948, he was sent to Frankfurt, Germany, during the period of the historic Cold War conflict known as the Berlin Airlift.
In 1972, Albert retired from the Air Force at Shepherd Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, after 29 years in the chaplaincy. He then became pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Burkburnett, Texas, five miles from the air base. He and Viola served there (she played the piano and organ and led the choir) until he “hung up his robes” in 1990. Viola died of congestive heart failure in 1996 at age 82.
Al remained active and drove until age 92.
Pastor Al has had a long and interesting life serving his Lord. He may no longer recall all the 550 Bible verses he learned as a young boy. But he knows his favorite one, John 3:16, by heart.