Every night, Bob and Barbara Lautenschlager say the Prayer of Spouses for Each Other. “We have our discussions like everybody else,” Barbara explained, but when they conclude the prayer by asking God to Let our love grow to perfection, it is clear that their 60-year-marriage is the fulcrum of their faith.
The Lautenschlagers have attended Our Lady of Good Counsel Church since 1970, the year that they moved to Ocean City from Northern Virginia. Their service to the parish has been extensive. Active on the OLGC Parish Council, Barbara was secretary and Bob was president, they helped to organize Family Fellowship Nights, Altar Server Appreciation Days, Prayer Socials, Hospitality Sundays, and a calendar full of other events. “The Parish Council held people together,” Bob explained. “We did a lot of interesting and fun things.” At that time, he also was on a committee involved with the much needed expansion of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church. Additionally, Bob is a member of the Knights of Columbus. Over the years, the Lautenschlagers have served as lectors and Eucharistic ministers, volunteered with the Ecumenical Food Cupboard and helped count the collection after a weekend of masses. Throughout her adult life, Barbara has been active in the Rosary Society and is a former president. At 83, she still volunteers at the Clothes Closet, where her Spanish-speaking skills are appreciated by customers and staff. Every Christmas since 2005, Bob and Barbara have been in charge of the Our Lady of Good Counsel Giving Tree, providing over 200 toys each year to the needy children in the county.
The Lautenschlagers have also been active in civic affairs. Barbara was a Girl Scout Brownie Leader in Ocean City, and Bob, in Virginia, was the Boy Scout Cub Pack Leader for the largest Pack in the Washington, DC area. After moving to Ocean City, Bob also ran in the city’s first Board of Education election and served for six years.
Both Bob and Barbara were born in 1935 and raised in neighboring small towns near Paterson, NJ. They attended the same high school, met again at the wedding of a mutual friend soon after they both graduated from college, and were married in 1958. With an engineering degree from Stevens Institute of Technology, Bob was a pioneer in computer systems, first based in the early 1960s in North Jersey where he worked on the first computerized command and control system for the Air Force Strategic Air Command. He then moved to Northern Virginia and subsequently to South Jersey to help the FAA develop, test, and evaluate the first nationwide air traffic control computer system. Barbara was a public school teacher for 25 years, first teaching high school Spanish and history in North Jersey and then later teaching English as a Second Language in Egg Harbor City, where she won a Teacher of the Year Award. Together they raised three children and now have a clan that includes seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Barbara said she solidified her Catholic faith as a child. It grew when she attended the Catholic College of New Rochelle. After going to a public high school, her college courses in theology and Bible studies deepened her understandings. As an undergraduate, her horizons broadened as she traveled to Mexico to live with a family there while she studied for a summer at the University of Mexico. Today she remains “devoted to the Blessed Mother.” She wears the Miraculous Medal and says the Rosary often, praying for healing as the need arises and appealing to St. Padre Pio and St. Anthony. Bob feels blessed to be a Catholic. “You know the true presence of Christ when you are in Church and at Communion,” he said. He appreciates the universality of the Church, the forgiveness of sins, and the ability to worship in church on any day of the week. Above all, he appreciates the Catholic ethic of fellowship and caring that he found among the parishioners of St. Damien. “What a pleasure to work with such nice people,” he said.