Rev. Emil E. Gustafson, 79, Lutheran pastor

January 12, 2004

The Rev. Emil E. Gustafson, who served as the pastor of Baltimore's Third English Lutheran Church in the 1960s and 1970s, died of heart failure Tuesday at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury. He was 79.

Mr. Gustafson was born in Elbow Lake, Minn., and graduated from Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. He joined the Navy at the start of World War II, serving as a yeoman on the USS Mississippi.

In 1948, he married his fifth-grade sweetheart, Charlotte Wharton, and in 1952 graduated from Augustana Seminary and was ordained as a Lutheran minister.

After pastoring churches in Idaho and Massachusetts, he was assigned to Third English Lutheran Church, at Hillen Road and 30th Street, in 1962. When Mr. Gustafson arrived, he encouraged integration of what had been an all-white congregation - losing many of its original members as a result, his wife said.

Mr. Gustafson ran summer camps for neighborhood children until he was assigned to Trinity Lutheran Church in Taneytown in 1975.

His former Baltimore congregation later merged with another church and closed, his wife said.

Mr. Gustafson retired from the Taneytown church in 1981, and the couple had lived in Ocean City since 1985.

Services were held Friday in Ocean City.

Other survivors include two daughters, Paula Gustafson of Maplewood, Minn., and Jennifer Weedon of Frederick; a son, Scott Gustafson of Herndon, Va.; a brother, Oscar Gustafson of Portland, Ore.; a sister, Genevieve Swenson of Bloomington, Minn.; and two grandchildren. Another son, Todd Gustafson, died in 1969.

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