For 58 years, Dr. Hermann Austel was a professor, friend, mentor and father figure to many who passed through Northwest Baptist Seminary and the Corban School of Ministry.
New Testament Professor Russ Glessner said he was all of the above and a “mentch,” a man who was highly regarded for his character and love of God. On May 29, Austel was taken Home while recuperating from a series of illnesses he suffered throughout the spring semester.
Known by most as a quiet and private man, Austel started at Northwest Baptist Seminary in 1953. Although he occasionally taught other courses, Austel’s primary focus was on teaching seminary students how to read and write in Hebrew. Greg Trull, Corban University’s dean of ministries, said Austel’s Hebrew readings with one to three students in his study was typically a special time of prayer and learning for those involved.
“He was personally concerned for his students and liked the one-on-one interaction,” he said. “The readings weren’t required. His desire was to help students become vibrant servants of God and gave them every opportunity to do that.”
While his classes may have been challenging and sometimes frustrating for many in the seminary, Glessner said few would say Austel wasn’t fair.
“He was deliberate and demanding,” Glessner said. “But he was also loving and kind. He was a friend and deep encourager.”
Austel was married for nearly 60 years when his wife passed away in 2009. Together they had eight children who called him Pop and 66 grandchildren and great-grandchildren who called him Opa, an affectionate German term for grandfather.
His love of the Hebrew language extended to his collection of Torah scroll fragments that he collected. Trull said Austel would help translate scroll fragments for clients in return for fragments he could keep. His goal was to collect fragments of the Old Testament where God revealed himself to His people. Trull said Austel had two of the three he wanted.
Glessner said few people realized Austel was also a talented violinist who would often play at school events and ceremonies. Although he felt a deep sadness with the passing of his friend, colleague, mentor and more, Glessner said he knows Austel is truly at home with the Lord.
“I rejoice that he is with Christ, but I wept,” he said. “He was special and there are few people like him.”
Services will be held on Monday June 6 at 1 p.m. at Temple Baptist Church, 1108 Columbia Ave., Fircrest, Wash. Attendees are encouraged to carpool due to a lack of parking at the church.