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A. H. Rulkoetter.

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Rulkoetter, Aubrey Henry (1891–1982)

By Sabrina Riley

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Sabrina Riley was born in Auburn, New York and raised in Dowagiac, Michigan. She received a B.A. in history from Andrews University and an M.A. in information and libraries studies from the University of Michigan. Riley was a member of Andrews University’s library staff from 1998 to 2003, library director and college archivist at Union College from 2003 to 2016, and is presently a freelance researcher, author, and information professional.

 

First Published: January 29, 2020

Aubrey Henry Rulkoetter, an Adventist pastor, teacher, and administrator, was born on February 18, 1891, in Saint Louis, Missouri.1

Early Years

A third-generation German-American, Aubry was the son of cabinetmaker Henry W. Rulkoetter Jr. (1867–1946) and his wife, Anna Katherine (Quebbemann; 1870–1923). His grandfather, Henry W. Rulkoetter Sr., had emigrated from Germany before 1861 and served in the American Civil War. His maternal grandparents emigrated from Hanover, Germany. Aubrey Rulkoetter had one sibling, a sister, Valeria E. (1904–1987), who married Owen T. Garner, an Adventist minister who served the Kansas, Nebraska, New York, Montana, and South Dakota Conferences as president.2

In 1910, the Rulkoetter family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Henry W. Rulkoetter Jr. continued cabinetmaking. Aubrey Rulkoetter worked his way up from office boy to bookkeeper to sales correspondent at the Universal Portland Cement Company. He then worked for the Cable Piano Company in Minneapolis for two years before joining the Adventist Church around 1913 under the influence of Otto O. Bernstein.3 When his parents joined the Adventist Church is unknown. At the time of her death, Anna Rulkoetter was a member of the Minneapolis church.4 Following her death, Henry Rulkoetter lived with his son until his death in 1946.5

Career, Marriage, and Education

As a new Adventist, Aubrey Rulkoetter was soon taken under the wing of an experienced literature evangelist, O. H. Shrewsbury.6 Rulkoetter was granted a missionary license in June 1913 and had moderate success as a literature evangelist.7 On August 29, 1914, he married Gertrude Myrtle Burghart (1881–1968), a Minnesota Conference Bible worker.8 The newlyweds moved to West Virginia, where Rulkoetter continued literature evangelism at first and later pastored his first churches.9 He returned to Minnesota in 1918 and was, along with his wife, instrumental in founding a church in the town of Montevideo.10 In 1922, he started teaching Bible at Maplewood Academy. At the same time, Gertrude Rulkoetter held various positions at the academy, including instructor of English, history, and piano, and preceptress (girls’ dean).11 From 1929 to 1931, Aubrey Rulkoetter pastored the First English Minneapolis church.12

During these Minnesota years, Rulkoetter was also a member of the Minnesota Conference executive committee, which is likely what led to his becoming president of the Minnesota Conference in 1931.13 There followed, in quick succession, appointments as president of the Kansas Conference in 193314 and as secretary of the Educational department of the Central Union Conference in 1935.15 During his years in Lincoln, Nebraska, the location of both the Central Union Conference headquarters and Union College, Rulkoetter earned a bachelor’s degree from Union College in 1936. He later completed a master’s degree in 193916 and a doctoral degree in 1948,17 both from the University of Nebraska.

When M. L. Andreasen resigned from the presidency of Union College in 1938, B. P. Hoffman was first offered the position. Hoffman declined due to ill health, and Rulkoetter was then invited to become Union College’s new president.18 During his administration, the new library, begun during Andreasen’s tenure, was completed, and plans were laid for building a new gymnasium, of which construction was completed shortly after his departure in 1942.

Rulkoetter left Union College in 1942 to become chair of the Religion department at Washington Missionary College in Takoma Park, Maryland, where he taught until 1945. His years at Washington Missionary College were marked by an increasing breadth to the theological and pastoral ministry courses offered by the college.19

In 1946, Rulkoetter became the academic dean of Emmanuel Missionary College in Berrien Springs, Michigan.20 Under his leadership, the college expanded its vocational and professional programs, adding courses in medical technology, graphic arts, and engineering in the early 1950s.21

Rulkoetter was called to the General Conference Religious Liberty department in 1952 to serve as an associate secretary, working in collaboration with Alvin W. Johnson and Frank Yost.22 His usual routine of committee work, travel, speaking, and writing was interrupted by the opportunity to represent the Adventist Church, along with H. M. S. Richards Sr., on an episode of the American Religious Townhall Meeting television broadcast on July 8, 1953.23 Rulkoetter, on behalf of the Religious Liberty department, also represented the Adventist Church in Geneva, Switzerland, at a meeting of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (U.N.) considering the adoption of a revised World Calendar. Before the meeting, he contacted many of the delegates from various U.N. member countries, expressing the Adventist Church’s opposition to the calendar.24

Later Life

Rulkoetter retired in 195825 and, with his wife, settled near Saint Helena, California, where some extended family members also resided. Although he never had children of his own, over many years of educational work, Rulkoetter was recognized as a mentor and counselor to many academy and college students. Among students, he was appreciated for his kindness, humor, scholarship, and practical advice.26 In the early years of his retirement, he continued to officiate at funerals, address graduating classes, and accept other speaking appointments. After Gertrude Rulkoetter’s death in 1968,27 Aubrey Rulkoetter’s name disappeared for the most part from denominational periodicals until his death on September 10, 1982, in Deer Park, California.28

Sources

“A. H. Rulkoetter Named New College President.” Clocktower, March 25, 1938.

“Anna K. Rulkoetter obituary.” Northern Union Reaper, March 13, 1923.

“Aubrey Henry Rulkoetter obituary.” ARH, November 18, 1982.

“College to Offer Graphic Arts Minor.” Lake Union Herald, April 22, 1952.

“Dean Rulkoetter Accepts Gen. Conf. Call.” Lake Union Herald, April 22, 1952.

“Death Ends Long Illness of Henry W. Rulkoetter.” The News-Palladium. November 22, 1946. Newspapers.com.

Dick, Everett, George Gibson, and Union College Staff. Union College: Light Upon the Hill. Lincoln, Neb.: Union College Alumni Association, 2004.

Engineering Course to be Offered.” Lake Union Herald, April 22, 1952.

Figuhr, R. R. “Retiring Workers.” ARH, June 29, 1958.

“Gertrude Myrtle Rulkoetter obituary.” Napa Valley Register, December 31, 1968.

Hagstotz, G. D. “The New President of Union College.” Central Union Reaper, March 29, 1938.

Johnson, Alvin W. “World Calendar Meets Defeat in Geneva.” ARH, September 2, 1954.

“Minnesota Notes.” Northern Union Reaper, June 3, 1913.

“Minnesota Notes.” Northern Union Reaper, September 1, 1914.

“Montevideo.” Northern Union Reaper, December 10, 1918.

Netteburg, L. H. “Television Progress.” Northern Union Outlook, July 28, 1953.

“Owen T. Garner obituary.” ARH, January 24, 1974.

Pogue, Katie M. “The Minnesota Camp Meeting.” Northern Union Reaper, July 1, 1913.

Rees, David D., and Everett Dick, Union College: 1891–1941. Lincoln, Neb.: Union College Press, 1941.

Rulkoetter, A. H. “Theology Offering Grows in Strength.” Columbia Union Visitor, September 17, 1942.

Rulkoetter, Aubrey H. “New Course in Medical Technology.” Lake Union Herald, July 17, 1951.

———. “Pupil Assistance in Routine and Instructional Management.” M.A. thesis, University of Nebraska, 1939.

———. “The Content, Format, and Design of the Catalogue of the Liberal Arts College.” Ph.D. diss., University of Nebraska, 1948. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAIDP13914/.

———. “United Nations and Calendar Reform.” Signs of the Times, April 19, 1955.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1917, 1923, 1930, 1932, 1934, 1936, 1943, 1947, 1953.

Notes

  1. “Aubrey Henry Rulkoetter obituary,” ARH, November 18, 1982, 22.

  2. “Owen T. Garner obituary,” ARH, January 24, 1974, 27.

  3. David D. Rees and Everett Dick, Union College: 1891–1941 (Lincoln, Neb.: Union College Press, 1941), 128–129; “Minnesota Notes,” Northern Union Reaper, June 3, 1913, 8.

  4. “Anna K. Rulkoetter obituary,” Northern Union Reaper, March 13, 1923, 5.

  5. “Death Ends Long Illness of Henry W. Rulkoetter,” The News-Palladium, November 22, 1946, 12, Newspapers.com.

  6. Ibid.

  7. Katie M. Pogue, “The Minnesota Camp Meeting,” Northern Union Reaper, July 1, 1913, 2–6.

  8. “Minnesota Notes,” Northern Union Reaper, September 1, 1914, 8.

  9. “West Virginia Conference,” Year Book of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1917), 43.

  10. “Montevideo,” Northern Union Reaper, December 10, 1918, 4; “Minnesota Conference,” Year Book of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1920), 71.

  11. “Maplewood Academy,” Year Book of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1923), 195.

  12. G. D. Hagstotz, “The New President of Union College,” Central Union Reaper, March 29, 1938, 2; “Minnesota Conference,” Year Book of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1930), 59.

  13. “Minnesota Conference,” Year Book of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1932), 58.

  14. “Kansas Conference,” Year Book of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1934), 32–33.

  15. “Central Union Conference,” Year Book of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1936), 31.

  16. Aubrey Henry Rulkoetter, “Pupil Assistance in Routine and Instructional Management” (M.A. thesis, University of Nebraska, 1939).

  17. Aubrey Henry Rulkoetter, “The Content, Format, and Design of the Catalogue of the Liberal Arts College” (Ph.D. diss., University of Nebraska, 1948), https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAIDP13914/.

  18. “A. H. Rulkoetter Named New College President,” Clocktower, March 25, 1938, 1, 4.

  19. A. H. Rulkoetter, “Theology Offering Grows in Strength,” Columbia Union Visitor, September 17, 1942, 8–9; “Washington Missionary College,” Year Book of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1943), 248.

  20. “Emmanuel Missionary College,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1947), 237.

  21. Aubrey H. Rulkoetter, “New Course in Medical Technology,” Lake Union Herald, July 17, 1951, 8; “Engineering Course to Be Offered,” Lake Union Herald, April 22, 1952, 5; “College to Offer Graphic Arts Minor,” Lake Union Herald, April 22, 1952, 5.

  22. “Dean Rulkoetter Accepts Gen. Conf. Call,” Lake Union Herald, April 22, 1952, 4; “Religious Liberty Department,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1953), 19.

  23. L. H. Netteburg, “Television Progress,” Northern Union Outlook, July 28, 1953, 1–2.

  24. Alvin W. Johnson, “World Calendar Meets Defeat in Geneva,” ARH, September 2, 1954, 15–16; Aubrey H. Rulkoetter, “United Nations and Calendar Reform,” Signs of the Times, April 19, 1955, 10–11, 14.

  25. R. R. Figuhr, “Retiring Workers,” ARH, June 29, 1958, 1.

  26. “Rulkoetter Accepts Gen. Conf. Call,” 4.

  27. “Gertrude Myrtle Rulkoetter obituary,” Napa Valley Register, December 31, 1968, 11.

  28. “Aubrey Henry Rulkoetter obituary,” ARH, November 18, 1982, 22.

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Riley, Sabrina. "Rulkoetter, Aubrey Henry (1891–1982)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed May 20, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=FA30.

Riley, Sabrina. "Rulkoetter, Aubrey Henry (1891–1982)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access May 20, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=FA30.

Riley, Sabrina (2020, January 29). Rulkoetter, Aubrey Henry (1891–1982). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 20, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=FA30.