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College Announces
Research Fellowship Recipients
Jefferson Elementary-Muhlenberg College Partnership Receives $10,000 Community and Economic
Development Grant
   
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Ninth President of Muhlenberg College, Jonathan Messerli, Passes Away
ATTENTION
Alumni with children
ages 13 and under
Glass Slipper Project
Benefits Area Teens
   
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Birds of Armenia Fly into Martin Art Gallery
   
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Mourning John A. Deitrich:
Alumnus, Donor and Life Member
of the Board of Trustees
Getting to Know “General Pete”
   
PAGES 6–7
Reaction to the New Life Sports Center
   
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The Kresge Challenge is in reach!
Class of 1970 Reunion Challenge
Two Special Naming Opportunities for the Kresge Challenge

Mourning John A. Deitrich:
Alumnus, Donor and Life Member
of the Board of Trustees

John Albert Deitrich, 92, of Winter Park, Fla., passed away December 15, 2004. He was born in Reading, Pa., graduated from Muhlenberg College in 1935 and received an M.B.A. from Harvard University in 1950. He received Muhlenberg College’s Alumni Achievement Award for Attainment in Life in 1970 and an Honorary Doctor of Science in 1987. The Muhlenberg athletic field house is named in his honor, and he was a major donor for the newly renovated Life Sports Center. He was a life member of the College’s Board of Trustees and was Chairman from 1979-1987. Deitrich also served on the board of the Union Center National Bank.

Deitrich worked for Carpenter Steel until 1952, when he decided to start his own business. He formed Union Steel Corporation in Union, N.J., and made stainless steel pipes and tubing. He enjoyed sports and throughout his life brought home many bowling and golf trophies, which included six club championships at Baltusrol Country Club in New Jersey. In Florida, he was a co-founder of Windermere Country Club and was proud that he could shoot his age on the golf course.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 65 years, Gladys; daughters, Judy Wald of Everett, Wash., Gail Heiser of Altamonte Springs, Fla., and Pamela Smith of Ridgewood, N.J.; eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

 


Getting to Know
“General Pete”

By Jennifer Pelton ‘05

Reverend Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, founder of Muhlenberg College, facilitator of Lutheranism and Patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America, was known for his serious and stoic nature. On campus, his statue stands inside the lobby of the Haas College Center. Although Reverend Henry Melchior Muhlenberg is revered and respected, it is his quirky eldest son, John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, a flamboyant Lutheran minister with a flair for the dramatic, who has won the hearts of the Muhlenberg community.

As legend has it, one Sunday morning at the time of the American Revolution, John Peter stood before his congregation in Virginia and declared, “There is a time to preach and a time to pray. But there also is a time to fight, and that time is now.” Then, to the great shock of his parishioners, he pulled off his clerical robe to reveal a soldier’s uniform underneath. When John Peter became General Muhlenberg, he was also known as “Devil Pete” for his ferocity in battle. A life-sized statue of him in his soldier’s uniform, affectionately dubbed “General Pete,” was acquired in 1942 from the Capital building in Washington, D.C. If you look closely, you’ll notice the placement of the Bible in Pete’s right hand and the sword in his left hand, exemplifying his dual commitment to God and country.

The statue of General Pete has enjoyed a long, colorful history as a center of activity and symbol of college life. When the statue first arrived on campus, a new rule, “The Freshman Challenge,” stipulated that all first-year students, when asked by upperclassmen, had to assume the pose of General Muhlenberg and recite the famous speech he made to his congregation. In 1957, students dressed him in women’s clothes to protest the College’s decision to admit women. A decade later, against College regulations, students adorned him with signs to protest the United States’ involvement in Southeast Asia. In 2001, students placed flags around General Pete and adorned him with an “I Love New York” T-shirt as the college mourned after 9/11.

Ensuring that students will not forget the legend behind the statue and the dynamic life of John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, at the start of every academic year, first-year students view a slide show at orientation entitled “Traditions: Connecting Past, Present, Future,” which is narrated by Dr. Carol Shiner Wilson, the dean of the college for academic life. This program features the story of General Pete and many other campus landmarks and figures, keeping the history and legacy of Muhlenberg College alive.

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