Feb. 8, 1928 - May 24, 2012
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God...Matthew 5:8 SOUTH BEND - The Reverend Mr. Paul Eugene Baumgartner, 84, of South Bend, IN, passed away peacefully on Thursday, May 24, 2012, at Saint Joseph Medical Center in Mishawaka. He was born in South Bend, IN, on February 8, 1928. He was son of the late William and Mary (Humphrey) Baumgartner of Rolling Prairie. He is survived by his sisters, Kathleen (Larry) Stafford and Suzanne Gadaz.
He was preceded in death by his brother, William Baumgartner, Jr.
Paul was married for 63 years to Donnabelle Jean, whom he married on July 29, 1949; she survives him. They are the proud parents of 5 children, 16 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren. Children include Sharon (Jim) Reimann, Linda Baumgartner, JoAnn Baumgartner, Judy Kuspa and Paul T. (Tina) Baumgartner.
Paul lived in the South Bend area all his life as an active member of this community. He graduated from South Bend Central High School in 1948 and, while there, loved to run track with the team. He began his career at the age of 19 as a journeyman carpenter and quickly realized his passion was to create and improve the environment for his family as well as others. His passion for construction led him to form his own business where he was willing and eager to help others who were interested in learning this trade. As well as construction, Paul was a skilled mason with one of his fondest memories of his work accomplishments being his contribution at the Notre Dame Grotto. As with most carpenters, work on his own home was always ongoing and never done, witnessed by the multiple additions to his home as his family grew.
To call him a religious man would be an understatement to his devotion and commitment to the Catholic Church. After being an active participant in the Cursillo movement, Paul was determined to help, council, and assist others through his faith. This led Paul to become ordained a permanent Deacon of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend on August 30, 1975. He was then assigned to St Augustine Parish where he enjoyed a close and loving connection with fellow parishioners. During the Lenten Season decades ago, he became involved with a small group of people who had made a commitment to attend Mass every day. This small group has grown significantly and this group continues meeting daily after Mass, enriching each other's lives before continuing with their own daily lives. Paul was adamant about continuing with these daily Masses, feeling that his day was incomplete if he did not attend, even when he was physically incapacitated. A true testament to the character of his friends was that they assisted him daily when he was no longer able to drive himself. He and a close friend discovered the joys of the Divine Mercy during Holy Week, which concluded with a Mass on Mercy Sunday. This led to involvement with all parishes in South Bend joining together, and this practice continues today.
Paul was thrilled to make two pilgrimages to Medjugorje, Yugoslavia, to experience the messages of Our Lady. He also traveled to Montreal to the Oratory of St. Joseph and witnessed a miracle. Paul also made several trips with the Bernie Barth retreat group.
He was known to his grandchildren as grandpa, but great-grandchildren called him "Bee Grandpa" because of the many bee hives he maintained while being a member of the Michiana Bee Keepers Association. While he enjoyed the honey daily, Paul also enjoyed sharing his liquid gold with others. He enjoyed gardening as well, especially his fruit trees and grape vines which he used to make wines. He enjoyed spending time with the children and was skilled at teaching values to them without their knowledge. While he was a great storyteller, the stories that can be told about him are even greater. He had a sense of humor that could light up a room. The prankster in him was responsible for many practical jokes, all harmless in nature and never meant to be mean-spirited. Family gatherings were always important to him and having everyone together for any reason gave him great joy. Gatherings at "the farm" were frequent where everyone could feel the love. The family tree still stands there which tells the story of his family.
Paul was an avid fisherman and hunter and loved to share his enthusiasm for these activities with his son and grandsons as well as many friends and relatives. He loved to stay active and insisted on doing so even after he lost his sight.
Viewing will be held at St Joseph Catholic Church, South Bend, on Tuesday, May 29, 2012, between 9:00 and 10:00 AM, with a funeral Mass to follow at 10:00 AM. Paul was a caring and grateful person. His family would like to express their gratitude to Dr. J. Bufill and Jen Ewing, NP, as well as the staff at Michiana Hematology/Oncology for all of their care and compassion for the last 10 years. In lieu of flowers, they ask that you make a contribution to one of the following organizations: Cursillo, P.O. Box 1613, South Bend IN 46634; to St. Augustine Church, P.O. Box 3198, South Bend, IN 46619-0198; or to RiverBend Cancer Services, 919 E. Jefferson Blvd., Suite 401, South Bend, IN 46617. Welsheimer Family Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. Family and friends may leave e-mail condolences at www.welsheimer.com.
Published by South Bend Tribune on May 27, 2012.