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Neighbor to Neighbor: Rosedale treasurer hailed for contribution to school

When those associated with Catherine Scheblein speak about her, there is a very definite tone of deep respect in their voices. She is, indeed, a very special woman, one who has devoted much of her life and worldly gifts to her Lutheran Church parishes, including that of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Christ in Rosedale.

Scheblein recently was honored in Valley Stream, L.I. by Queens community members for her 39 years as treasurer and board member of Christ Lutheran School. But the road that led her to that role winds back into early 20th century Queens.

Born Nov. 8, 1918 to a German Lutheran family with a large number of children, she was baptized Catherine Elizabeth Faber. In July 1919 her family moved from Brooklyn to Springfield Gardens, where they became members of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. St. Peter’s pastor, the Rev. Thomas Lehr, confirmed her and became so influential in her life that as her family moved from place to place in southeast Queens, Scheblein followed Lehr when he was transferred to St. Thomas Lutheran Church, now New Hope.

While still in school, Scheblein helped her father, a process server for the courts, and worked for one of the Laurelton delicatessens. After graduation from high school, she worked for Chase Bank in Queens Village, where she worked her way up to bank officer and local manager, serving there until her retirement in 1980.

She married Joseph Bodensky in 1946, bought a home in Rosedale and transferred church membership to Christ Church. When Queens native the Rev. Norman Dinkel was called to be the new pastor of Christ Church in 1962, a special relationship developed between Dinkel and Scheblein since he was both her pastor and an account holder at her bank.

Dinkel was, in fact, instrumental in having her become involved in the financial aspects of the church and in his proposed idea of a parochial school to be part of Christ Church. When she was asked to become treasurer of the committee that was considering the establishment of such a school, she was told it would be “until we get organized, just for a little while.”

The Christ Lutheran School opened Sept. 12, 1965 with Scheblein being one of nine original school board members and the first treasurer. And as time went on she accepted more leadership of the school and assisted the headmaster. At one point some in the parish wanted to close the school. Scheblein’s staunch arguments to continue and maintain the school finally were successful, but contention still existed between the parish and the school leadership and between the synod and the parish in general.

It was through Scheblein, her sister, Louise, and others that Christ Church’s present pastor, the Very Rev. Aubrey Bougher, had his name submitted for the pastorate. They have worked as a marvelous, supportive team ever since. Scheblein lost her first husband in 1972 and remained a widow until 1989, when she married another loyal parishioner, Andrew Scheblein.

That marriage ended with the death of her Andy in 1995. She is grateful to God for both of those wonderful marriages and for the happy memories she has of them. Serious illness in 2003 forced her to leave some of her duties, and her term as board member and treasurer of the school ended in February 2004.

Scheblein was a daily worshiper at Christ Church from 1981 to 2003 and has made a host of friends and admirers not only in and through the many offices she held in the church and school organizations but by being someone everyone respected and admired. She may say she is retired, but Scheblein and her fantastic spirit will keep everyone at Christ Church looking forward to her advice and counsel. Keep up your good work and good health, Catherine.

Unfortunately, the very same day that friends celebrated Scheblein’s 39 years as treasurer and board member of Christ Lutheran School, some of those same people and others attended the wake of longtime resident Donald Herzberger. He was a Rosedale Civic Association member, former Rosedale Civilian Patrol Coordinator and Cornucopia Society volunteer.

Herzberger’s father-in-law, Henry Mott, had died a short time before Donald did, and since Mott had died suddenly, it was a shock to the entire family. Whether that hastened Donald’s terminal illness or not, we are not sure, but we will all remember his desire to joke and make people laugh. We’ll remember him, Mott and their wives, Janice and her mom in our prayers.

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