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Martin Heinecken dies at 95

Martin John Heinecken, professor of systematic theology at The Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia for 27 years who was known for his earthy sense of piety, died Feb. 24 in Middlebury, Vt.

Heinecken, 95, was born in Sugar City, Colo. He received his doctorate from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and was ordained by the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia in 1928, where he was teaching. But it was his days after 1945 at Philadelphia Seminary where he made his mark.

A So/ren Kierkegaard scholar and noted author, his advice was eagerly sought by church boards and commissions, including heading — two years after he retired in 1974 — a committee on aging for the former Lutheran Church in America. In that role, he quipped, "You know you're losing your hearing when your radio feels warm in the morning."

Along with a salty wit, Heinecken's faith was always transparent. "He wore his faith at the end of his cuff," recalls George Keck, a student of Heinecken's in the 1960s and now admissions director at the seminary. "If something happened on campus that upset him, he would feel it so deeply that he would cry over it."

In retirement he enjoyed pottery. He is survived by two sons and five grandchildren.


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