The Life of Paul L. Buehrle
RETIRED PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER -
THE LUTHERAN HOME AT TOPTON
The Rev. Dr. Paul L. Buehrle, 90, retired President and CEO of The Lutheran Home at Topton, PA, passed away on January 5, 2020, at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Salisbury Township. Rev. Dr. Buehrle was the widower of Betty G. (Gulden) Buehrle, who died June 15, 2019. They had been married 68 years at the time of Betty’s passing. Born in Blooming Glen, Bucks County, Paul was a son of the late George R. and Irene M. (Landis) Buehrle. Paul and Betty were members of the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit, Emmaus. Paul completed his undergraduate studies with a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Sciences from Muhlenberg College, Allentown, in 1952. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, in 1955.
Paul continued his education at both the University of Delaware, Newark, DE, and University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, with courses in gerontology. He obtained and maintained his Nursing Home Administrator's license throughout his career in Aging Services. In 1981, Muhlenberg College in Allentown, conferred an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree to Rev. Dr. Buehrle.
Paul’s professional career first began in 1955 as a parish minister at Weissport Lutheran Parish, a three-church parish in Carbon County. From 1959 to 1965 he served at Reformation Lutheran Church, Milford, DE, a congregation of the Board of American Missions, where he developed the mission and moved from temporary quarters to the first unit of the church building; from 1965 to 1972 he served as pastor of Saint Philip's Lutheran Church, Wilmington, DE, a suburban congregation with 1200 members. During his pastorate he was also Dean of Delaware District for four years. From 1972 to 1975, Rev. Buehrle served as the Executive Director of the Wilmington Senior Center, Inc., Wilmington, DE, a United Way Organization. Rev. Dr. Buehrle's career culminated with his appointment as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Lutheran Home (now known as Diakon) at Topton, PA, a multi-social service agency of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The organization provided services to older adults, children and families. During his ministry, Rev. Dr. Buehrle re-organized a home for orphans into a social service agency for all age groups. He also supervised the development, planning, design, staffing and occupancy of three continuing care retirement communities - Tower Court on the Topton campus; Luther Crest, Allentown and one joint venture with The Reading Hospital and Medical Center, The Highlands at Wyomissing, Reading, PA; two low income elderly housing units financed by Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Heilman House and Luther Meadows, both on the Topton campus; a personal care boarding home in Reading and personal care housing for the aging, Luther Ridge, Pottsville, PA.
Rev. Dr. Buehrle also developed and implemented several social programs, all serving the aging population - a nutrition program with twelve meal sites, a day care program and a home health care program. Additionally he implemented a counseling program known as Family Life Services with special emphasis on Lutheran congregations and support for pastors. At his retirement the budget for The Lutheran Home at Topton (now known as Diakon) was $ 32 million with 750 employees. Rev. Dr. Buehrle's associations include: serving as a consultant for Continuing Care Retirement Communities for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; membership in the Coalition of Executives of the ELCA, American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (now Leading Age), Pennsylvania Association of Non-Profit Homes for the Aging (now Leading Age PA) and Pennsylvania Council of Voluntary Care Agencies. He served on the Board of Directors, at Muhlenberg College, Allentown and The Highlands at Wyomissing Retirement Community. In 1995, Rev. Dr. Buehrle was honored with the Distinguished Service Award from Pennsylvania Association of Non-Profit Homes for the Aging (now Leading Age PA).
In addition to his distinguished community service career, he was a devoted, loving and kind father and husband, traveled extensively with his wife Betty and many dear friends, enjoyed the game of golf and summers at the family home in Fenwick Island, DE. He had a contagious joy for life that was evident to all and he impacted many lives through his kind and gentle ways.
Paul is survived by daughters, Cathy B. (Buehrle) Smith, wife of Alexander D. Smith, Hollis, NH; Sharon K. Buehrle, wife of Greg Page, Vero Beach, FL, and Pamela J. Buehrle, partner of Michele Sokalsky, Walnutport. Other survivors include brothers, Willis R., husband of Helen Buehrle, Castle Rock, CO and Claude H., husband of Lorraine Buehrle, Greeley, CO; grandchildren, Elizabeth Acheson Smith, Andrew Buehrle Smith, Courtney Page and Olivia Page; and three Great Grandsons. In addition to his wife and parents, Paul was predeceased by a sister, C. Elizabeth (Buehrle) Hess.
A memorial service to celebrate Paul's life will be held on Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. at the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit, 3461 S Cedar Crest Blvd., Emmaus, PA with The Reverend Richard H. Elliott, officiating. Relatives and friends may call Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the church. Inurnment will be held at the convenience of the family.
The family requests contributions may be made in Paul's memory to Luther Crest Benevolent Care Fund, 800 Hausman Rd, Allentown, PA 18104 or Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit, 3461 S Cedar Crest Blvd., Emmaus, PA 18049.
Ludwick Funeral Homes, Inc., Topton, PA, is in charge of arrangements. Memories and condolences may be shared at www.Ludwickfh.com.
Filter Paul L. Buehrle's Timeline by the following Memory Categories
St Philip’s Lutheran Church
I was extremely fortunate to be able to say that Dr Paul Buehrle was my pastor at St Philip’s Lutheran church in Wilmington DE from 1965 through 1971. At the time my brother and I were at Skyline Jr HS and Dickinson HS. My parents, Robert and Ruth Fisher, were very active with the church, and were good friends with Paul and Betty. Pastor Buehrle had a lot of youth activities for us at the church and remember the many choral and musical (trumpet) opportunities that he provided. He provided a very strong influence for me. As my career continued at the Northwestern Lehigh School District, I had the opportunity to work with Dr Buehrle in his role at the Lutheran Home . My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.
As a Mentor
We had Paul Buehrle enter and change our lives twice and he remains a “household” character as we celebrate his honesty, wisdom, candor, and deep commitment to making life a joy-filled experience. I met him in Delaware when I had moved there after working at the Lutheran Home in Germantown. I spoke with him about the Senior services in Delaware and he was kind in giving me the lay of the land. But his mission brought him further and much more significantly into our family, when he moved to Topton Home and was CEO and worked with my mother; he was an encouraging and trustworthy force in her life and moved her into a range of roles which she thoroughly enjoyed! His commitment and leadership made every workday a source of satisfaction.
Donna Heckman Stapleton and Grace E Heckman (deceased October 2014)