rev. col sir john peterschmeling

The Rev. COL SIR John Peter Schmeling PhD. was born 31 October 1938, the first of four children to Mr. and Mrs. John F. W. (Marie Violet Weinreis) Schmeling of Golva, North Dakota . He graduated from Golva High School in 1956 and from Dickinson State University in 1961 with a B.S. in English and History plus a German minor. He did German graduate work with Stanford University. In 1970 he earned a M.S. in European History at Indiana State University and in 1977 a Ph.D. in European History with Management Concentrations.  He passed away on Friday, March 26, 2021.In High School and College he played Basketball, Track and Football while working first for his father on the ranch/farm, then Red Owl Grocers and later the Dickinson Police Department. He Coached High School Basketball, Track and Football as far as the State Tournament for some from 1961 to 1964 while teaching German, and History. He had summer work as a National Park Ranger and managed a Bible Camp. He refereed basketball, football and track from college days through the end of seminary.In 1964 he entered Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. He graduated with a M.Div. in Theology in 1968. During his seminary years, he also taught German at Western Dubuque High School. He was fluent in German and Spanish, along with limited Arabic and French ability. He was commissioned as a Staff Specialist, 2LT while in seminary 13 October 1965. He served with HHC, 389th ENGR BN (C) (SRF) in Dubuque for Points Only while in seminary. His clinical (CPE) Internship was at the Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, it was preceded by two clinical (CPE) quarters at a Mental Hospital in Independence, Iowa.He was ordained at Christ Lutheran Church, Terre Haute, Indiana on 26 May, 1968 (Pentecost). Dr. William H. Weiblen presided at the ordination and delivered the sermon.  Pastor John then began a mission congregation in Linton, Indiana on 01 June 1968 and remained there until becoming Assistant Professor of Religion and European History (the area of his PhD) at Vincennes University, Vincennes, Indiana. After Desert Storm, he was Pastor of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church and St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, both of Shelbyville, Illinois until retirement in 2004. Beginning in 2004 he was an Associate of Mission Support (Development) at Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa. While development work was not territorial, he assumed responsibilities in Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas, sharing some of these states with other Wartburg Development Associates.He has served both part-time and full-time Interims for the synod of the ELCA in which he is rostered, the Central Southern Illinois Synod with offices in Springfield, Illinois. He has also served Interims in the Indiana – Kentucky Synod and the Central States Synod when appointed by the Synod Bishop.His first direct Chaplain assignment was the 604th Military Police Battalion in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1968. In 1976 he became 4th Brigade Chaplain for the 70th Division (TRAINING) in Livonia, Michigan and was 70th Division Staff Chaplain from 1986-1989. In 1989 he became the Hospital Staff Chaplain for the 337th General Hospital, the 123rd ARCOM at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. In 1996 he was assigned to the Chief of Chaplains Office until his retirement in 1998.From 1990 to 1996 he was the Command Staff Chaplain of the 416th Engineer Command in Chicago, Illinois. During Desert Storm, he was the Senior Engineer Theater Chaplain based in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but traveling throughout the war theatre. In that capacity, he supervised about 250 Chaplains in Combat. In 1991, he became the Theater Redeployment-Reunion Program Chief. The RRP Teams under his direction provided classes to 70% of the soldiers leaving the Gulf. He received the Bronze Star for combat action during the Gulf War and the Legion of Merit in 1995, among other awards. He was knighted in 2002 through the English Royal House at Windsor. In the United States he then became affiliated with the Knights Templar, one of the oldest Knight organizations in the world, formed in 1119 to protect Christians at risk in the Holy Land. He continued to work for that goal with Palestinian Christians as they are threatened in the Holy Land. Their population numbers are being quickly defeated in the Holy Land turmoil.Rev. Schmeling is retired from Vincennes University. He served as Full Professor of Religion and History, Director of the VU Prison Education Program, Chair of the Social Science Division, became a full Professor and Vice President and Dean of the Faculty (Provost). As Provost he supervised about 400 full-time faculty and nearly 1,000 adjunct faculty at the then three sites of the university.  He served 22 years in the full-time parish calls of the now Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the former American Lutheran Church.   Pastor John could also preach and lead divine worship in the German language.In 2010 he was appointed as a Knight Templar Ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna , Austria then to Geneva , Switzerland . In Geneva he served on three UN committees. They were (A) Environment; (B) Human Rights; and, (C) Spirituality, Equality and Global Concerns.  The Knights are allowed ambassadors to the United Nations by United Nations invitation to each of its three sites. In 1987 he received the Chief Award (highest alumni award) from Dickinson State University in Dickinson North Dakota. In 2010 he received the Living Loehe Award (highest alumni award) from Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa .  Chaplain Schmeling has served military in exercises LOGE 92, Fuentes Caminos in Panama, Bright Star in Egypt, and Eastern Castle in Egypt plus in Jordan as well as in other Middle East assignments, the last being in Israel.  While the 416th Engineer Command Staff Chaplain he coordinated with the Staff Chaplains of 2nd, 3rd and 8th U.S. Armies. He served on the U. S. House of Representatives 8th Congressional Indiana District Military Academies Selection Committee.He served in an advisory capacity to the 19th Illinois District Congressman John Shimkus. He has served on three ARPERCEN Promotion Selection Boards and taught in numerous military seminars and schools. He served a US committee responsibility with the United Nations regarding The Inter-Religious and Inter-Cultural Impact of Religion and Faith in North America focusing upon strategies for peace with other Clergy from the Five Ancient Liturgical Christian denominations selected for that study. He has recruited and mentored many young pastors and chaplains beginning their careers.Up until his death he served as the interim pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Princeton, IN and Zion Lutheran Church in Mt. Carmel, IL.  For all the places he traveled and the people he impacted, he was always most proud that he was a North Dakotan.He prefers to be called Pastor John in the parish that he serves. He is married to Susan Ellen Reinhart Schmeling. Surviving are his children, Linda McDonald and her husband John, Erich Schmeling, Kim Schumacher (born in Dubuque while he was at Wartburg Seminary) and her husband Keith, John Schmeling and his wife Karen, Heather Schmeling, and Kirsten Schmeling and her husband David. His brother Darrel Schmeling; sisters, Linda Huffman and Naomi Dolyniuk. Grandchildren Natalie Schumacher, Erica Spears, Sarah Rodorigo, Harrison Schmeling, Beckett Schmeling, and Dexter Stead. Great-Grandchildren Scarlett Spears, Teagan Rodorigo, Alissa Rodorigo.Visitation will be held at Goodwin-Sievers funeral home, Vincennes, IN on Wednesday, March 31st 2021 from 10:00-11:00 (Vincennes time) and at Our Savior Lutheran Church 100 S. Richland Creek Drive, Princeton, Indiana from 12:00-1:00 (Princeton time) with funeral services beginning at 1:00.  Memorial contributions can be made to ELCA World Hunger through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Goodwin-Sievers funeral is honored to serve the family of John Schmeling.

Tribute Video

View current weather.

Memories Timeline

View the Timeline


  1. There are too many special memories and stories from which to choose just one to list. John was a wonderful friend, neighbor, and mentor. He had such an easy going spirit and such concern for our world community. Our sincere condolences from our family to yours. God’s speed good friend.

  2. Michael and I want to extend our condolences to the entire Schmeling family. John’s kind face, sly smile, and wry wit will always remain so memorable.. He gave tirelessly for the welfare of others and that too is part of is legacy to this world. May God grant you courage and strength in the coming months.Becky and Michael Mullen

  3. What a sad day, we are sorry we could not be there. Uncle Pete was our favorite uncle.

  4. Dear Peter Schmeling family, ( I hope this finds you.
    I am very sorry for your loss. My home town paper always arrives at least two weeks late, so just learned of Peter’s passing today. Peter and I were born on the same day (Oct. 31, 1938) and our farms were about ten miles apart in Golden Valley County ND. Peter was closer to the Golva schools and I wen to the Beach schools. But we both both worshiped together in St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Beach. Peter and I went through Sunday school togtherr and i always considered Peter a kindred soul. I was always the wild and wooley one and Peter was more quite and conservative. I ran into Peter a few times over the years and I knew he was a pastor. I didn’t know where.|Our careers were somewhat similar. I had a first career in Space Science and was at George Washington University for 18 years and smaller universities after that. I also earned a PhD in psychology. For my seminal research and development in space-based disaster and search & rescue systems that is credited with saving tens of thousand of lives, I was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. I was also very active in the ELCA and my first wife Pastor Judy Helm (now deceased) was the 25 woman ordained in the ELCA. I was a lay pastor in Saudi Arabia in the early 1980’s Small world!! Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like more info.
    Neil Helm

Sign the Guestbook, Light a Candle

Sign the Guestbook