The Rev. Dr. John D. Newpher, 90, president of Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia from 1971 to 1975, died Saturday, May 22, at Springhouse Estates in Lower Gwynedd, where he had gone to recuperate after a fall at his home in Ambler.
Pastor Newpher's term was "a time of renewed commitment to the present campus location in Philadelphia's East Mount Airy section," said Robert Blanck, a lawyer who was vice chairman of the seminary board of trustees during his presidency.
Before Pastor Newpher's presidency, the seminary contemplated establishing a campus in West Philadelphia with the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, and later considered consolidating with Philadelphia Divinity School, a seminary of the Episcopal Church, Blanck said.
Neither step was taken, he said, and the focus shifted to the 14-acre Mount Airy campus. During Pastor Newpher's term, the Hagan Administration Building was expanded, and improvements to faculty housing, which had been deferred, were made.
Pastor Newpher's term, Blanck said, was "a strong financial period for the school."
Born in Reading, Pastor Newpher graduated in 1938 from Muhlenberg Township High School and earned a bachelor's degree in Latin and English at Muhlenberg College in 1942.
A bachelor of divinity degree in 1945 and master of sacred theology degree in 1946 were from the Mount Airy seminary. He earned a doctorate of sacred theology in 1958 from Temple University.
In 1945, he was ordained by the United Lutheran Church in America, a predecessor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. His first assignment, from 1946 to 1948, covered parishes in two Carbon County communities, Audenried and Beaver Meadows.
Pastor Newpher was at Christ Lutheran Church in Camden from 1948 to 1953, at Ascension Church on the seminary campus from 1953 to 1961, and at Christ Lutheran in Oreland from 1961 to 1971.
He wrote What Is the Gospel?, published by Lutheran Church Press in 1964, and On a Ship With Paul, published by Parish Life Press in 1976.
From 1975, Pastor Newpher served at St. John Church in Slatington, Lehigh County, until he retired in 1985. From 1991 to 2002, he worked with Ken Crest, the Lutheran social ministry in Plymouth Meeting.
Pastor Newpher is survived by his wife of 35 years, Suzanne; sons John and Peter; daughters Valerie and Pamela; stepson Louis Eble; stepdaughters Karen Dickter and Sandra O'Brien; 16 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and his first wife, Gladys.
Visitation will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 27, at Upper Dublin Lutheran Church, 411 Susquehanna Rd., Ambler, before an 11 a.m. funeral there. A reception is to follow at the church.