St. Johannes Lutheran Church

If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.
Romans 14:8


Robert Leonard "Bob" Oswald

Into Paradise may the angels lead you. 
At your coming may the martyrs receive you and
lead you into the holy city, Jerusalem. 
May a choir of angels welcome you, and
where Lazarus is poor no more, may you have everlasting rest. 

In paradisium

Brother Bob Oswald passed away on Sunday morning, September 4, 2022.


Robert Leonard “Bob” Oswald was born November 20, 1927, in Hillside, NJ, son of the late Julius Robert Edward Oswald, Sr. and Marjory Harriet Smith Oswald of Copiague, NY.  Mr. Oswald was married to his beloved wife, the late Gertrude Ruth Alexander Oswald, for 61 years.

Surviving are his children: Carolyn Schmonsees (John) of Holly Springs, NC; Thomas Oswald of Stockbridge, GA; Dorothy Harbaugh of Irmo, SC; Deborah Hart (Bobby) of Woodruff, SC; and Rhonda Fulmer (Michael) of Columbia, SC; eight grandchildren; twenty great-grandchildren; and six great-great-grandchildren.

In addition to his wife, he is predeceased by his mother and father, two brothers, three sisters, and two grandchildren.

Bob attended Mepham High School in Bellmore, NY; was a veteran of the U.S. Navy for six years having served as a Seaman Apprentice in World War II aboard the U.S.S. Waller and was a participant in the WWII Veterans’ Honor Flight to Washington, DC in 2011.  While stationed in Charleston, SC he met his wife, Ruth, and they married after his discharge. Charleston was their first home, then Sayville, NY and returned to Charleston to raise their family. While in New York, Bob worked for UPS and Republic Aviation and upon moving back to Charleston worked for the Atlantic Coast Life Insurance Company, Western Auto, Sears Roebuck & Company and the Charleston Naval Shipyard where he retired in 1986 after 27 years. 

He was a Master Mason of the Strict Observance Lodge No. 73 of Charleston, SC in 1953 and became a Life Member of that Lodge in 1993.  Bob enjoyed helping and doing things for others and became a volunteer fireman for the James Island Fire Department. He joined the American Legion Post 147 of James Island where he was active in various projects and events including their extensive renovation of the Banquet Hall. Bob held several Post positions and was awarded the Special Award for Outstanding Support in 2012 and the Legionnaire of the Year Award 2013 In recognition of Outstanding Leadership and Service. Throughout his membership, he stayed connected to the Post and valued his relationships with his fellow veterans and friends.

Bob was a self-taught pianist early in life and could listen to a song once or twice, pick it out on the keyboard and in a few minutes play it. Throughout his life he pursued his passion for playing the piano in various well-known public venues in New York as well as Charleston. This began in New York when he was part of a band and continued after moving back to Charleston. He particularly enjoyed collaborating with a local radio station host in setting up a game they named “Stump the Piano Man” for the public to call in and request a song for Bob to play and if he couldn’t, the caller would win a prize for stumping the Piano Man (there were only one or two winners in the duration the game had been aired).

Bob was a member of St. Johannes Lutheran Church in Charleston, SC since 1958 where he and his late wife raised their children. He was actively involved in many activities that supported the church’s mission some of which were singing in the church choir, playing piano on special occasions, participating in various church activities and functions, and assisting in the church services. In addition, his last public piano performance was providing background music in the church Fellowship Hall during the Tour of Homes in Charleston.  He loved his church and church family, and they gave him great comfort and support through the years.

The family is especially grateful for the help and support of close friend Libby Abbey during Bob’s illness when they were not able to be with him.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, September 7, 2022 at St. Johannes Lutheran Church. Interment will immediately follow in Bethany Cemetery. 

The family will receive friends on Tuesday, September 6 from 5pm to 7pm at J. Henry Stuhr Downtown Charleston Chapel, 232 Calhoun St.

Memorials may be made to St. Johannes Lutheran Church, PO Box 31927, Charleston, SC 29413. 

Joyful, Joyful, we adore thee, God of glory, Lord of love! Hearts unfold like flowers before thee, praising thee, their sun above. Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, drive the gloom of doubt away. Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day.

       The beautiful music of Beethoven came to mind when I was asked to recommend music for Bob's funeral. He played with a  passion whether it was a boogie woogie, big band, pop song, or classic tune. He and I shared a love for the music of The Carpenters.  I will never forget the Sunday he presented me with 5 CD's of their music! It is a gift I still cherish today!

        Bob was a few month's shy of his 95th birthday!  Growing up in St. Johannes I knew his family well and especially enjoyed working with Dotti in the choir before she moved to Columbia.  I got to know Bob during the time I was interim organist at St. Johannes for 9 years. Bob was an amazing musician with a true gift from God to play by air.  He and I use to laugh when he tried to teach me how to play like him, and I would try to teach him to read music and  play like me.  We gave up and accepted each others gifts to play the way God wanted us to create music!  I remember when I was asked to share playing with Bob for the first Tea Room! I felt like I was an opening act for a master musician with his stacks of fake books of every style music that he loved.  I wanted him to do the job so I moved to preparing the cold beverages and got to listen to his amazing piano playing.  Prior to Covid, Bob always arrived early for the Sunday social hour and got his sweet fix from the delicious treats that Barbara Williams and others laid out. As the years passed our conversations were always about where he was playing and how much his music meant to him. We even compared notes on carpal tunnel surgeries we had and how stiff our hands were getting, but I never could tell how it affected his playing because he continued to entertain the guests of the Tea Room twice a year! It is time to rest now, my musician friend, as God has called you home to make music in heaven! Thank you for sharing your passion with all of us and reminding us of how important music is to our life! 

from your friend, Chuck Long
Karen and Richard Carpenter  "We Have Only Just Begun"
"Autumn Leaves"
Amazing Grace - press to play
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