Bethel’s third president, The Rev. Albert J. Beutler, Ph.D., passed away Dec. 23, 2018 at the age of 89 years old.
Services celebrating Beutler’s life will be at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018 in the Everest-Rohrer Chapel/Fine Arts Center on Bethel’s campus. The family will receive friends from 10 a.m. until noon in the Rotunda of Everest-Rohrer. Graveside services and burial will follow at Olive East Cemetery, Wakarusa, Ind.
The Rev. Albert J. Beutler, Ph.D. (Michigan State University), was the first alumnus to serve as president of Bethel College, but before taking that role he held other positions both on campus and in the community. Beutler came to Bethel in 1947 with the inaugural freshman class and graduated in 1951 with a degree in Biblical Literature and Psychology. Immediately following graduation, he became Bethel's dean of students and dean of men. In 1958, he became the school's first men's basketball coach. In 1966, he became Bethel's first Alumnus of the Year after leaving Bethel to become the dean of student services at Indiana University in South Bend.
He would later return to Bethel to serve as the third president and is credited with constructing the Dining Commons and the Eastwood Apartments. In addition, he is responsible for eliminating operational debt, increasing assets by 60 percent, creating an associate's degree with 11 concentration areas and a master's degree in Christian education, as well as continuing Bethel's good rapport with the broader community. His doctoral dissertation recounts the early years of the school: "The Founding and History of Bethel College of Indiana." Beutler was twice named "Sagamore of the Wabash," first by Indiana governor Otis R. Bowen in 1979 and then by governor Robert D. Orr in 1985; he later became an administrator at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan, where an Endowed Lectureship, “The Albert J. Beutler Forums on Ethics and Practice" was established by SVSU in 1995.
Throughout the years, Beutler served on numerous professional, educational, church and community service boards, and received many awards and honors. He was a member of Hillside Missionary Church in South Bend, member and past president of Mishawaka Lions Club, where he chaired the Campaign Sight First II Campaign that raised over $40,000 for sight preservation in 2005-06. He also served on the board of St. Joseph County Scholarship Foundation 1997-2010. In 2013, Bethel College named the Athletic Hall of Fame the Dr. Albert J. Beutler Hall of Fame.
Beutler is survived by his loving wife Barbara of 68 years. Also surviving are two daughters, Nancy E. (George) Bassett of South Bend; and Amy J. (Matthew) Baron of Greer, SC; and his son, Rev. Stephen A. (Jayna) Beutler of Noblesville, IN. He is also survived by six grandchildren, Angela M. (Matt) Fraling, Andrew J. (Kim) Bassett, Jason R. (Kendra) Beutler, Sara J. (Chris) Worley, Stephanie J. (Daniel) Freemyer, and Elyse D. Baron, along with twelve great-grandchildren.