Rev. Randell Edward Helmuth Tonn, age 76, of Glencoe, died Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007, in Rochester, Minn.
He was born Sept. 19, 1931, in Lester Prairie, the son of Helmuth Herman and Viola Rosella (Bergmann) Tonn. Randell was baptized by the Rev. J. A. Schert Oct. 11, 1931, at the St. Peter Lutheran Church of Lester Prairie; and later confirmed in the faith at the same church April 2, 1944, by the Rev. A. F. Vomhof.
Randell’s parents moved to Glencoe, where he attended grade school. In 1938, the family moved back to the farm west of Lester Prairie.
Randell graduated from the St. Peter Lutheran School and attended Concordia in St. Paul, graduating from high school in 1948, and Concordia College in 1950.
He was united in marriage with Gladys Mae Kuenzel of New Germany June 18, 1953, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in New Germany by the Rev. W. H. Erb. Randell departed on his vicarage assignment July 1, 1953. His vicarage was rather unusual since he served a dual parish in Durango and Ignacia, Colo. for over two years.
On medical advice, Randell left the ministry to work in the business world for several years. But he knew his calling lay with the ministry and decided to return to the seminary, graduating in 1959. He was ordained into the ministry at Grace Lutheran Church, Pagedale, Mo., where he worked part time while attending seminary graduate school, from where he received his master of sacred theology degree in 1960.
After a teaching stint at St. Paul’s College, Concordia, Mo., the family moved to Denver, where Randell attended graduate school at the University of Denver. He also accepted a call as assistant pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Denver.
Randell’s ministerial career included serving as pastor at Concordia Lutheran Church, Dayton, Ohio; director of development, Cleveland Lutheran High School Association; vice president of development at Lutheran Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio; vacancy pastor at Mount Olive Lutheran, Mound, Minn.; St. Paul’s Lutheran in Lester Prairie; and St. John’s Lutheran in Plato.
During his career, Randell also worked with American Van Lines, where he served in a variety of capacities including manager of training.
He helped to start a new church at Zapata, Texas which would serve the “winter Texan” for four seasons; and then served as vacancy senior pastor at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Glencoe.
Randell was a very active member of the communities where he lived. He was a senior chaplain who voluntarily dedicated his life’s effort towards assisting those in need of his special skills. His honed talent and superior management abilities took many “works in progress” to an end state of providing critical and essential services.
After an attempt at retirement, Randell discovered that he very much preferred to be out with the people, personally taking responsibility for his parishioners.
His legacy includes “Stille Nacht,” a German Christmas service; “Christmas In May,” the Glencoe Rotary Club project to help needy homeowner’s fix their property free of charge; and recently the role of senior chaplain with the McLeod County Sheriffs Office, a program that has given quick access by law enforcement to a group of pastors to assist in emergencies.
Randell was the recipient of the 2004 Seminary Partner’s Program, an honor of gratitude for preparing future pastors and missionaries in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.
This beloved man will be remembered by many dear family members, friends, fellow professionals, and those who were blessed from his careful ministry in service to our Lord Jesus Christ.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and a daughter, Rebecca.
Randell is survived by his wife, Gladys Tonn of Glencoe; children Christine Hoffman of Cleveland, Ohio, Elizabeth Schwochow of Waconia, and Rachel Rutti of Dallas, Texas; grandchildren Esther Hoffman, Annemarie Hoffman, Miriam Schwochow, Nicole Rutti, Kaitlin Rutti, and Jessica Rutti; and Liz Yates, considered an adopted daughter, who now pastors in Stephens, City, Va.
Funeral services celebrating Randell’s life took place Monday, Nov. 12 at 11 a.m. at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Glencoe with the Revs. James Gomez and Gerhard Bode officiating. The organist was Dawn Wolter. Special pre-service music was provided by Bruce Bradley. Congregational hymns were “Thy Strong Word,” The Son Of God Goes Forth To War,” “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” “Abide With Me,” and “For All The Saints.” Interment was in the Lester Prairie City Cemetery, next to Randell’s parents.
Casket bearers were Phillip Kuenzel, Janice Tonn, Pam and Keith Ziermann, Annemarie Hoffman, Esther Hoffman, Miriam Schwochow, and Keith Kuenzel.
Arrangements were by the Johnson McBride Funeral Chapel in Glencoe.