Paul Lennard Gunnerson
The pattern of life is one which is characterized by change. From first beginnings until the shadows lengthen and the day is done, life moves ever onward. So it has been, so shall it ever be, from birth until death comes, and then beyond. In the interval, and it does seem so brief, is written the score which furnishes what we might call the symphony of early life.
So it is and was with Paul Lennard Gunnerson, who was born in Lindsborg, Kansas, on December 19, 1880, and passed away at his home in the city on August 2nd, following a brief illness, at the age of 63 years, seven months and 13 days. He grew up in the Lindsborg community where he enrolled in 1887 in the Primary Department of what was to be known as Bethany college. He attended the Lindsborg public schools and Bethany Academy. His academic studies were continued at the college, which he was destined to serve so faithfully and so well, and in 1902 the degree of Bachelor of Arts was conferred upon him. During several years he served as driver for Dr. Carl Swensson, and many of us recall anecdotes associated with these interesting experiences. He was confirmed into membership of the Bethany Lutheran church by Dr. Swensson and he has held membership continuously.
Len Gunnerson's name is written large in the chronicles of Bethany college. For Forty-eight years he held membership in the orchestra which accompanied the Bethany Oratorio Society in presentations of Handel's 'Messiah,' and during that time he never missed a public performance. Directors, soloists, orchestra players, chorus members, music critics and members of the audience recognized his distinctive qualities as a musician. His alertness, sympathetic understanding and unfailing devotion made him an invaluable member of the orchestra. He was also an active member of the Bethany Band for many years. The records include the name of Lennard Gunnerson as a member of the staff at Bethany college continuously since 1900.
During the course of more than four decades, Len, as he was affectionately known, was in close contact with succeeding generations of students. As an Instructor and as a Curator of Instruments, he carried out his responsibilities with most gratifying results. Many first year students, somewhat bewildered by a new environment and a new experience, found confidence and encouragement in the kindly reception which he gave to them. Here they recognized a friend and these hopes were not betrayed across the years. He was intensely devoted to the students and to the college in which he believed and for which he gave all that he possessed in devotion, energy and talent.
Len Gunnerson was not only a fine musician but he was a gifted technician with instruments. His services were in constant demand in various parts of Kansas and elsewhere as he repaired and tuned organs and pianos. He quietly did his work and those around him shared in his kindly disposition, his good sense of humor and his cheerful spirit.
Certain qualities distinguish certain individuals, and sometimes their daily walk helps to deepen them. Patience is a cardinal quality with one who day after day, and week after week, takes a piano, damaged and out of tune, and restores it to use, so that it is in tune with the finer responses of man to his world. A life, too can be in tune with the universe, with fellow-men, and with God. A devotion to the harmony of sounds produces a devotion to the harmony produced by good fellowship, the voices of friends, and the quiet hours, or when all alone at the task of the day, an eternal voice, unspoken but still articulate, would produce a devine harmony. A sense of dignity, moreover, in doing a task well, passes into character and makes out of man, a brother, and a friend, dearly beloved and deeply missed.
When death comes to the earthly life of one who has served so well and so long, the lonely places are legion. All over the world literally are youth who have been touched by this life. Those of us who have been in close fellowship with him are already conscious of our sense of loss which will deepen as time moves on. Within the family circle, the vacant place is best understood by Len's sister, Bernice, who shared life together beautifully and wholeheartedly, and by his brother Carl, and his wife, by a niece, Helen Gunnerson and by a nephew, William Harrison, and by other near relatives and a wide circle of intimate friends. Far too many familiar figures are missing from Lindsborg's streets, and now one more has left our valley but thanks be to God that they can still live in the temple of memory. The mother and father, two brothers and two sisters have preceded him in death.
'I love preliminary things,
The tuning up of flutes and strings
The little scrolls musicians play
The quiet, the pause, along the way
But best of all
I like to see the curtain rise.'
And so it is with life -- the preliminary things, and finally the curtain rises for a view of the Eternal through Jesus Christ.
The above obituary was read by Dr. Emory Lindquist at the funeral services which were held on Friday, August 4, at seven o'clock in the evening at the Bethany Church. The Rev. Philimon Smith and the Rev. James Claypool also officiated at the services. Doris Nelson, Martha Christenson and Helen Olson sang at the services and Mrs. Burdette Hanson, served as the organist. Interment was made in the Elmwood Cemetery with Dr. Henry Johnson, Emil O. Deere, Hjalmar Wetterstrom, Dr. Herman Thorstenberg, Oscar Lofgren, Donald DeCow, Thure Jaderborg and Oscar Berglund acting as pallbearers.
Lindsborg News - Record, August 10, 1944, pages 5 and 8