Obituary: David W. Augsburger

Pastoral counselor, professor, author, peacemaker, radio host

David Wilbur Augsburger, husband of Leann Elrich Augsburger, died Oct. 30 at his home in Claremont, surrounded by his wife and daughters. He was 85.

David was born on August 14, 1938, in Delphos, Ohio to Clarence and Estella Shenk Augsburger, the youngest of six children.

He grew up on the family farm in Elida, Ohio, and spent time as a child in Florida and Virginia. He graduated from Elida High School, then attended Eastern Mennonite College (’60), and Eastern Mennonite Seminary (’63) in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

During and after seminary he worked for Mennonite Broadcasts from 1961 to 1974, serving as host of the Mennonite Hour radio program, writing and delivering messages focused on the Anabaptist response to the social concerns of the day: war and peace, racism, and interpersonal relationships. He also provided musical leadership and sang in the Mennonite Hour Quartet.

Ordained in 1963, he served as pastor at Trissels Mennonite Church from 1963-1971.

In 1974 he completed his Ph.D. in personality, theology, and psychotherapy at Claremont School of Theology and took a post teaching pastoral counseling at Northern Baptist Seminary in Illinois. Four years later he moved to Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries (now Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary) in Elkhart, Indiana, and taught there until 1990, when he moved to California to teach at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, where he remained until his retirement in 2012.

While living in Claremont, he attended a house church, Peace Mennonite Fellowship, and later co-pastored the church with his wife Leann until his death.

He dedicated his life to the study and practices of pastoral care, counseling, and reconciliation. His passion for helping individuals navigate the complexities of human relationships and conflict was the driving force behind his significant contributions to the field.

Among his major publications were “Pastoral Counseling Across Cultures,” “Conflict Mediation Across Cultures,” “The Freedom of Forgiveness, Dissident Discipleship,” and “Caring Enough to Confront.” These works, along with many others, demonstrated his commitment to promoting understanding, compassion, and healing in a world often marred by strife and division. His widely published “Caring Enough” series continues to be a valuable resource for individuals seeking to improve their relationships and resolve conflicts with grace and empathy.

He led workshops nationally and internationally on topics including conflict management in the church, cross-cultural counseling, hatred, prejudice, cross-cultural conflict mediation, grief, marriage, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

“He was a singer of opera, sculptor, lover of art, music and film, a world traveler, gardener of hot peppers, and a renowned cook and chocolatier,” his family shared. “He was always eager to recommend a tasty eatery. He was full of curiosity for others and the world, and his passion for everything good in life was infectious. He was an attentive listener, ever present with others. He was a dedicated pacifist and peacemaker, adept at confronting injustice. He saw the good and encouraged the good in others. He made a lasting impact across the world through his teaching, writing, counseling, public speaking, compassionate mentoring, and friendships.”

He was preceded in death by his parents, and brothers Fred (Carolyn) Augsburger, Donald (Martha) Augsburger and Daniel (Garneita) Augsburger.

He is survived by wife Leann Augsburger; siblings Myron (Esther) Augsburger and Anna Mary (Milton) Good; daughters Deborah Augsburger (Peter Drachman), Judy Augsburger (Alexander Platonov) and Kate Wentland (fiancé Carl Hyndman); grandchildren, Liza and Nadia Platonov; former wife Nancy Wert Augsburger; and many beloved nieces and nephews.

Gifts in his memory may be sent to Mennonite Central Committee at, or by check to 21 S. 12th St., P.O. Box 500, Akron, Pennsylvania 17501.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, November 19 at La Verne Church of the Brethren, 2425 E St., La Verne, CA 91750.


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