Rev. Dr. Philip H. Pfatteicher

  • Born: October 29, 1935
  • Died: June 22, 2021
  • Location: Melrose, Massachusetts

Robinson Funeral Home

809 Main Street
Melrose, MA 02176
Tel. (781) 665-1900

Tribute & Message From The Family

Rev. Dr. Philip H. Pfatteicher, university professor and Lutheran pastor, died on Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, at the age of 85.

Philip H. Pfatteicher was born in Philadelphia, PA on October 29, 1935, one of two children of the late Ernst P. Pfatteicher, Jr. and Esther T. (Linaka) Pfatteicher. Born into a family of teachers and clergy, Philip was a dedicated educator and devoted family man.

Raised in Philadelphia, Philip attended the William Penn Charter School and went on to earn a bachelor's degree cum laude in English from Amherst College and a master's and Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1960, after completing his Master of Divinity degree at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, he was ordained by the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania. He also earned a Master of Sacred Theology degree magna cum laude from Union Theological Seminary in New York.

On June 24, 1961, in St. John's Lutheran Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Philip married Lois Sharpless. Philip and Lois started a family in Philadelphia and moved to the South Bronx where Philip served as pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church for four years. In 1968, Philip moved with his growing family back to Pennsylvania where he began his career in higher education; he spent nearly 30 years on the faculty of East Stroudsburg University as a professor of English and religious studies. Philip served as the Lutheran campus pastor from 1969 to 1997 and as chair of the Department of English from 1978 until 1983. He retired from teaching at ESU in 1997 and a year later was invited to become the associate pastor of the First Lutheran Church in downtown Pittsburgh, where he served until 2010. Philip also taught at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, the Union Theological Seminary in New York, and Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and served for the past 9 years as honorary assistant at the Church of the Advent in Boston. Over the course of his dual career in academia and the church, Philip authored some two dozen books and nearly 100 articles and reviews. Philip was a spiritual person from a young age and a scholar by nature, with a deep compassion for the plight of the disadvantaged and downtrodden and an openness to new perspectives on the world. His experience and knowledge were deep, but he always imparted his wisdom quietly and humbly.

Philip took great pride in his four children and seven grandchildren remarking once that becoming a father was wonderful, but becoming a grandfather was even more marvelous. As a child, Philip spent summers in Vermont at the rustic family cabin on Lake Champlain where he particularly enjoyed sailing and painting. As a father, he ensured that his children learned to appreciate nature as he did by learning to canoe, camp, and fish while enjoying that same cabin.

Philip and Lois found many fun and adventurous ways to experience the world together. When Philip was given the opportunity for a semester-long sabbatical from university teaching, they took the family on an educational three-month trip that literally went around the world on one-direction PanAm tickets. In later life, they took Amtrak throughout the country to various destinations, tended to their beautiful garden as if it was a sanctuary, and cherished time with their children and grandchildren. Philip also may have missed his true calling as a comedian given that he enjoyed making jokes as often as he could, even in his final days when his body was in rapid decline.

Philip was the beloved husband of the late Lois (Sharpless) Pfatteicher to whom he was married for 57 years; devoted father of Carl Pfatteicher and his wife Natalia of Pittsburgh, PA; Carolyn McDermott and her husband Thomas of Melrose, MA; Sarah Pfatteicher and her husband Bob Conlin of Northampton, MA; and Linda Pfatteicher of San Francisco, CA; brother of Ann C. Gregory of Newark, DE; and grandfather of Julia Pfatteicher, Serafima Pfatteicher, Thomas McDermott IV, Kelsey McDermott, Ian Conlin, Franklin Wilson, and Wanda Wilson.

Relatives and friends are invited to a Requiem Mass for Philip at the Church of the Advent, 30 Brimmer St., Boston on Saturday, July 10 at 10:30 AM. In lieu of flowers, gifts in memory of Philip may be made to Sailing Heals, or another charity.

Condolence & Memory Journal

Philip was my pastor in Pittsburgh but soon became my friend and colleague. He washed both of my children in the water of salvation at the font, and was always available to comfort and encourage me as my pastor and friend.

R. I. P. Father Pfatteicher.

"O Father, deign Thou, I beseech Thee,
To listen to my earthly lays;
A nobler strain in Heav'n shall reach Thee
When I with angels hymn Thy praise,
And learn amid their choirs to sing
Loud hallelujahs to my King."

-Johann Mentzer
(tr. Catherine Winkworth, German chorale: O DASS ICH TAUSEND ZUENGEN HAETTE)

Posted by Pastor Daniel Grimminger, Ph.D - Louisville, OH - Friend   August 25, 2021

I "know" Philip only from his writings on Lutheran liturgy and am especially grateful for his work on LBW, which my LCMS congregation still uses. His books have been a resource for my teaching of liturgy to undergraduates and academic research.
In the sure and certain hope of the resurrection, we commend him to Christ.
Dr. Rhoda Schuler
Professor Emerita, Concordia University, St. Paul

Posted by Rhoda Schuler - Saint Paul, MN - Acquaintance   July 12, 2021

In the Fall of 1968 I was a freshman at East Stroudsburg State College in Pennsylvania. Dr. Pfatteicher was my English Lit Prof. He was brilliant, understanding, and challenging. I never expected that this son of Philadelphia would help to lead this son of Philadelphia into minsistry. In recent years I finally decided I should write to him to share with him that his writing in theology, liturgy, and faith, would have a great influence in my life. A long journey for both of us, even though our contact was limited. You were a great blessing in my life.

Posted by Rev. Paul G. Huebner - School   June 30, 2021

Your father performed my marriage at Trinity Lutheran Church in S Phila and baptized our first child there also back in the early sixties. Will always remember him fondly. God´s blessings to you all!

Posted by Sandy Sheets    June 28, 2021

In 2011 I had Dr. Pfatteicher for a class I took a Nashotah House Theological Seminary as part of my STM program. I still use his notes on the church year as I teach for my own alma mater at Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne. A very nice and gracious man. I enjoyed my brief time with him and treasure the teaching he imparted.

Posted by Rev. Don Engebretson - Antigo, WI - Student   June 27, 2021

Prayers abound -- Dr. Pfatteicher has given so much to so many. Thank God his wise counsel remains. Condolences to his family and friends.

Posted by Rev. Dr. Joseph A Donnella - Other   June 26, 2021

Philip made many unheralded contributions to the church, not least his work on the LUTHERAN BOOK OF WORSHIP. Always he showed a linguistic skill, an historical understanding and an ear for wordings. I am honored to have know him and worked with him.

May he now rest from his labors in perpetual light.

The Rev Eugene L Brand, ThD

Posted by Eugene Brand - Cleveland, OH - Coworker   June 25, 2021

I'm so sorry for your loss,my heart goes out for you and your family.

Posted by paul Lisacki - woburn, MA - Coworker   June 25, 2021

Rest in Peace

Posted by Anthony (chip) Acchione - Springfield, PA - Family   June 25, 2021

Fr Pfatteicher was very kind to me when we were at the Advent together. I've been away for a while but I remember him with great affection. My best to all his family.

Posted by Virginia (Ginnie) Pierce - BROOKLINE, MA - Friend   June 25, 2021