History of the Restoration Movement

Louis Oliver Lehman


President of Eureka College 1919-1922

Report on the Sad Death Of President Lehman
(Transcribed Below)

Louis O. Lehman Lays Down His Life For Eureka College

Born September 1877
Died March 10. 1923

President of Eureka College 1919 - 23

Louis O. Lehman

A pall of grief and gloom settled over this community when the word was passed around that President L. O. Lehman of Eureka College had passed away Saturday night at 9:30. His sickness of three weeks duration had been the source of much anxiety, especially when it became known that the disease was typhoid fever. Evidently the malady was in a very severe form, because of the rapidity of its progress and the suffering it caused. On Friday President Lehman suffered a severe hemorrhage. He recovered from this and physicians who examined him subsequently were satisfied that he would make satisfactory progress. However, another hemorrhage occurred Saturday afternoon, which was the cause of his death at the time above stated.

The popular sorrow is rendered all the more poignant by the fact that President Lehman was doubtless the victim of his own devotion to the cause in which he had so unremittingly spend himself during the last few months.

When the present campaign for the Endowment of Eureka College was launched, he was placed in full charge and it is to his untiring energy and optimism that the success already attained is due. So much of his physical reserve was spent in this effort that he had not a sufficient amount to combat the disease which caused his untimely death.

Louis O. Lehman was born in Sterling, Ill., on Sept. 4, 1877. His father died when he was two years old and ever since that time he has assisted in the support of his mother, who survives him.

He graduated from the Sterling High School in 1895 and the next year, in 1896, he came to Eureka with his mother and his sister and entered College. Like many other of Eureka's best men, he largely worked his way through the institution. As a student preacher he served the churches of Long Point. Streator and Chandlerville.

On his graduation in 1901 he continued to serve the church at Chandlerville for a time, later taking up the work at Havana.

He was married on June 8, 1904. To Miss Ethel Leeper of Chanderville. They first made their home in Havana, going from there etc Rantoul, Illinois. And later to Gibson City. In all of these places Mr. Lehman did outstanding work as a minister. Probably his most successful work was at the last named place where he developed the church in a most remarkable way.

In 1914 he was called to be field secretary of Eureka College and came here to make his home. He serve in this capacity and as business manager for the college until, when at the resignation of President H. O. Pritchard he was unanimously elected to the presidency. First to the acting presidency in March 1919, and then president in August the same year, shortly before the opening of the college work for that year.

With what faithfulness and efficiency, he has conducted this important office is well conducted this important office is well known to this community. To the constituency of the institution and in the educational circles of the state.

The Funeral Service

The funeral service at the church on Tuesday afternoon. March 13 afforded abundant evidence of the universals esteem in which he was held.

All of the business houses closed as well as the public schools and long before the hour of service the Christian Church was crowded with those, who from all walks of life and from many parts of Illinois came to honor the man who, aside from his great service and unselfish devotion. They held as a cherished personal friend.

A quartette composed of Mssrs. Philip Reep and Gerald Dewees, Misses Ruby Painter and Vashti Ziegler sang "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," after which Prof. A. C. Gray read Scripture selections and Prof. Geo. Moore led in prayer. Professor Brelos then very impressively sang a beautiful arrangement of Tennyson's "Crossing the Bar" after which the memorial address was delivered by former President H. O. Pritchard of Indianapolis.

It would have been difficult to find on better qualified to deliver such and address than Dr. Pritchard.

He has been associated with L. O. Lehman for nine years in a very intimate way and was in a position to discuss, in a very sympathetic manner, the character and work of the man.

He chose as his text a portion of Acts 11:24 describing Barnabas, "For he was a good man and full of the Holy Ghost and of Faith"; With these appropriate words as a basis, he developed a most fitting eulogy of President Lehman.

He emphasized first the humility of the man. L. O. Lehman never exalted himself but rather was inclined to undervalue his own work and ability. This fact made him the more appreciated by his friends and co-workers.

It did not, however, prevent him from giving himself to any service if he felt that there was a need.

Dr. Pritchard also called attention to the fact that he was a man who possessed no ulterior motives. All that he was and all that he did was a as clear as the noon day sun.

President Lehman was a man of exceptional poise and good judgment. He could never be excited or stampeded in hasty or ill advised courses of action. He was very careful in his decisions and who he made a declaration his friends knew that he had thought the matter through. This fact made his counsels much sought and highly valued, not only among those connected with the college but in the general education circles of the church.

Perhaps the most impressive characteristic of the man was his consecration. It was one of the fundamental tenets of his life/ He gave himself absolutely to the ideals which he considered supreme and he was able to impress these ideals on others in a wonderful degree.

Finally, Dr. Pritchard spoke of the faith which was the dominant motive in the life of L. O. Lehman. He possessed great faith in people. No one ever heard him say an unking word of anybody. While never effusive he was always courteous and kind in the highest degree.

His faith in the Truth was absolutely unclouded. To him there could be no question about his personal relationship to the Lord. His religious life was as simple and matter of fact as that of a child. He found neither time nor reason for doubts or uncertainties concerning spiritual things.

This fact was the source of his confidence in the ultimate victory of the cause in which he was engaged. He believed it to be the Divine will that Eureka College should be adequately endowed, and he never doubted for an instant that this will be done. Dr. Pritchard very impressively pointed out that the friends of Eureka will be inspired to take up and complete the great work for which President Lehman gave his life.

Following the memorial address. Rev. C. G. Kindred of the Englewood Christian Church of Chicago and a close friend of President Lehman gave a closing prayer.

The quartette closed the service with the beautiful hymn, "I Would Be True."

The body was laid to rise in the Olio cemetery and was accompanied there by a great concourse of friends, the student body of the college marching in a body. The pall bearers were selected from the trustees and faculty. S. H. Zendt of Galesburg, H. T. Swift of Springfield, and J. M. Allen of Eureka representing the trustees, and Prof. Jackson, Prof. Jackson, Prof. Morrison and Prof. Jones, the faculty.

Many telegrams and messages of sympathy have been received by the family. Word was received from the General Education Board of the Disciples of Christ which was in session Tuesday that at the hour of the funeral service they would be conducting memorial service for President Lehman. The Executive Board of the United Christian Missionary Society which was also in session Tuesday sent word that they would hold special memorial services at the hour of the funeral. They were also personally represented at the funeral by one of the secretaries and the editor of the World Call, W. R. Warren.

Thus, has passed from earth one fo the greatest men, one of the purest souls this community has ever known. Regardless of his position he was valued most of all for himself. Every one who had any acquaintance with him whatever feels in his passing the loss of a personal friend. His sterling manhood and his blameless life have ever been and will continue to be a source of inspiration and help.

As a minister of the Gospel, he has always enjoyed the confidence of all of those with him whom he associated. He was one of those who could be conservative without being narrow and who could be liberal without being disloyal.

As a college executive he has brought honor to the institution which he directed. He served it with the best of his splendid energy and ability and in his death in its service he is as true a martyr as any who ever gave life in a great cause.

The Journal, in the name of the whole community, extends sympathy to the bereaved wife and to the mother and sister and other relatives.

Other Worthy Tributes
(By B. J. Radford)

On February 23, President Lehman came home from his strenuous campaigning for the College endowment, too much worn by his burden of toil and responsibility to successfully resist the fever, the germs of which he had picked up somewhere in his travels. Although the battle against the disease was waged with all the skill and care known to medical science, reinforced by the prayers of the whole community, President Lehman fell into his final sleep on the evening of March 10, 1923.

In his death the College, the church, and the community have met with a calamity. As we see it our loss is irreparable, but we do not see all, and God may even bring unseen blessings out of this bitter bereavement. We old ones felt that in Lincoln's death there could be no return from the incalculable loss, but we have found that Providence has remedial resources far beyond our knowledge. If Brother Lehman's heroic sacrifice of the strength of his noonday manhood, and his life itself, in the cause of Christian education, shall stir the authorities, the alumni and friends of Eureka College to a realization of its imminent peril, and their duty in view of it, even he would not thing that the price was too great.

Milton sublimely sang, "Peace hath her victories no less renowned than war," and we may add that Peace hath her heroism ever more exalted and glorious than that of war. Brother Lehman has broken the alabaster box of a pure, clean body that the priceless ointment of loving devotion might fall in fragrant unction upon the head of the Master, and who shall say that it was wasted?

(From the Peoria Christian, published by Central Christian Church, Peoria, Illinois)

We were all shocked Sunday morning when we received news that brother L. O. Lehman, President of Eureka College was dead. He died in the prime of a most useful manhood and at a most inopportune time for the College. There is no question but that he wore himself out trying to promote the Endowment Campaign. His should was burdened with the great task and the brethren were worrying him because of the meagre way in which they were responding. Like a good soldier he gave all that he had to the cause and died because he had impoverished his system and made it an easy prey to disease.

There is but one task before the Disciples of Illinois right now and that is to finish the task to which he gave his life. It would be a lasting disgrace to let the campaign fail after the price President Lehman has paid. It is due his memory that this money be pledged, and the College freed from debt and its future guaranteed. No finer tribute to our brother could be paid than to finish the campaign. But few in the state have had a part in the Endowment. We can receive pledges at the church office and if the passing of this man, who has made many friends in Central church, and who had his heart set on the completion of this campaign, has made any wish to help finish the campaign please let us know and we will be glad to take your pledge.

Special Memorial Service

Next Sunday morning at 10:55 at the Christian Church a union memorial service will be held in honor of Mr. Lehman, and there is no doubt but what the church will be filled. Dr. B. J. Radford, Prof. Silas Jones and Prof. Roy L. Moore, will bring messages of comfort to the bereaved friends, and that takes in the whole community.

Woodford County Journal, Eureka, Illinois, Thursday, March 15, 1923, pages 1, 4.

Directions to the Grave Of L.O. Lehman

Louis O. Lehman is buried in the Olio Township Cemetery, also known as Eureka Cemetery in Eureka, Illinois. The city is located just east of Peoria on Hwy. 24. In the town center turn right on Hwy. 117. and go past Eureka College, and you will see the cemetery on the left. This cemetery was at one time the old Eureka Christian Church Cemetery. The building has long been gone. Enter into the main entrance of the cemetery and take the second drive to the right. Go past the office to the top of the hill. Look to the right and you will see the Langston/Lehman plot. Lehman is buried in the same plot as Ira W. Langston. Also buried near the plot is John G. Waggoner, longtime minister in Eureka.

GPS Location
Grave Facing West
Location in Cemetery: Div B Section C Lot 48

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See Cemetery Map Here

President Of
Eureka College

Louis O. Lehman

Special Thanks

In June, 2009 Tom L. Childers, C. Wayne Kilpatrick and Scott Harp traveled about 3000 miles in one week through parts of Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. During this time we found the graves of 75 church leaders in the Restoration Movement. Chronicling these leaders into websites has been time consuming. Many thanks to Tom and Wayne in helping to take photos, share the driving, and putting up with your web master's slave-driving effort to see as many as we did in the time we had. Their photos as well as some of mine are seen on this site. When we arrived at Olio Twp Cemetery, it was late in the evening, and a summer storm was on its way. I had called Rosemary Hartter, the manager of the cemetery, weeks in advance to gather information. When we arrived on Saturday evening, I called her and she was most gracious to come to the cemetery after hours to assist us in finding all the graves. She and the staff at the cemetery have been most gracious to help, and for this we say a special thanks to them.

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