FIRST HEADMASTER OF HKIS
Robert E. (Bob) Christian
DECEMBER 13, 1927 - March 27, 2023
Bob was born December 13, 1927 in Summit, Illinois, and called to his eternal rest on March 27, 2023. His parents Erich and Helen presented him for baptism on January 1, 1928, the “Naming Day of Jesus”. In 1931, Erich was diagnosed with tuberculosis and admitted to Wheat Ridge Sanatorium in Colorado where he remained until 1936. During those years, Helen, Bob, and younger brother Carl lived with Helen’s parents the Bobzins in Chicago. Bob also spent long summers on uncles’ farms near Clyman, Wisconsin, where he developed a youngster’s love for catching and eating bullheads.
Bob attended Lutheran elementary schools in Chicago before enrolling first at Concordia High School and then at Concordia Teachers College in River Forest, Illinois. He later did graduate studies at Columbia University (Administration) and Hunter College (Counseling) in New York.
Bob met his future wife Arleen at Concordia, and they married at her home church in Klinger, Iowa on August 26, 1950. Their first four children David, Ann, Rebecca, and Lois were all born in New York, while Julie followed in Hong Kong. Bob got great joy out of family gatherings, especially barbecues and dim sum meals. He had a joyous laugh, a great sense of curiosity, and the ability to look for the positive in almost any situation.
Bob’s entire professional life was spent in Christian ministry at Lutheran schools, beginning with Our Saviour Lutheran in the Bronx. During his time there, he was instrumental in adding a high school to the established elementary classes. Bob’s pastor there Berthold von Schenk deeply affected his life, emphasizing Word and Sacrament, as well as understanding the church as the Body of Christ on earth.
In 1966, the Board for Missions of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod called Bob and Arleen to move to Asia and open Hong Kong International School. Bob served as Headmaster there until 1977, when he was called to open Seattle Lutheran High School.
Bob “retired” from Seattle Lutheran in 1994, and for the next eight years laid the foundation for opening Mount Rainier Lutheran High School in Tacoma, Washington. During his retirement years, Bob continued leading the Stephen Caregiving Ministry at Hope Lutheran Church. Bob and Arleen moved to Providence Mount St. Vincent in 2017 and lived in that supportive community until their deaths.
Bob is survived by: brother Carl; five children: David Christian, Ann Christian, Rebecca Sandell, Lois Erickson, and Julie Christian; nine grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. His wife Arleen preceded him in death in 2018.
Bob was always grateful to God, to his wife and family, and to the many others who helped make it possible for him to serve in the ministries of the Church.
Memorial gifts may be made to: Hope School (to help fund the purchase of the Seattle Lutheran High building,) 4456 42nd Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116, or to Providence Mount St Vincent, 4831 35th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98126.
FORMER FACULTY MEMBER
Judy Joanne Butler
1945 - 2023
Judy Butler came to Hong Kong in the early 1970s to teach at North Point Methodist Primary School after receiving her teaching degree from the University of Florida. After completing her three year teaching commitment, she was not ready to leave Hong Kong after falling in love with mountains, sea, and all the city had to offer.
Judy joined HKIS in 1976 first teaching second grade and later grades 3 and 5. While at HKIS, Judy developed many deep friendships with colleagues and families in the community. Judy’s friends said she had a love of life and her laugh was contagious. She loved to travel the world and visit her friends overseas and adored spending time with her many godchildren. Judy was passionate about her clown ministry which she continued for many years. She left HKIS in 1983 to continue teaching in her home in Hong Kong where she lived until her passing in 2023.
Click to see Judy’s bio
FORMER FACULTY MEMBER
Mark Mitchell Silzer
April 9, 1947 - December 30, 2023
Mark was born on April 9, 1947, to Richard and Jennie Silzer in Chicago, Illinois. He grew up in Blue Island, Illinois with his siblings Peter and Jane. As a youth, Mark participated in Boy Scouts (attaining the level of Eagle Scout), worked as a lifeguard, sang in school choirs and musicals, and played basketball.
Mark met his wife Barbara Luke while attending Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois where he attained a bachelor’s degree in Education. Mark and Barbara participated in their university’s Kapella choir in college which culminated in a world tour their senior year.
Mark’s education also included a master’s degree in Instructional Media from Northern Illinois University and a PhD from the University of Illinois in Education Administration.
Mark’s career was focused on education and included serving as a teacher, Director of Instructional Media and Middle School Principal at the International School in Hong Kong; starting a new Lutheran High School in Phoenix, Arizona and serving as its first Principal and Director; serving as Principal of Our Redeemer Lutheran School in Honolulu, Hawaii; serving as Principal of Carden West School in Pleasanton, California and working for several different software companies including Jostens Learning Corporation, Education Systems Corporation, Edison Project and Sun Microsystems while living in Pleasanton, Danville and Roseville, California.
Mark’s biggest joys came from his family - his wife Barbara, his daughters Stephanie, Alison and Ashley; their husbands; and his 10 grandchildren (Luke, Grace, Ava, Kai, Samira, Leilani, Marissa, Melina, Robby and Ryan). Music was always a huge part of Mark’s life – he had a beautiful tenor voice and sang often with his family both at home and at church. He died surrounded by his family holding his hands and singing his favorite hymns to him.
Mark will be honored in a Celebration of Life service on Friday, January 12th at St Matthew Lutheran Church, 3785 Placer Corporate Dr, Rocklin, CA 95765. The service will begin at 10:30 am with a viewing starting at 10:00 am and a lunch reception to follow the service in the church hall. Burial will be at Roseville Cemetery after the lunch reception.
Mark is survived by his wife, Barbara Silzer, of Roseville, CA; daughter Stephanie Sloan and her husband Carl of Rocklin, CA; daughter Alison Goradia and her husband Neil of Bethesda, Maryland; daughter Ashley Silzer-Sanchez and her husband Robert of Antelope, California; his 10 grandchildren; his brother Peter Silzer and wife Sheryl of Mt. Vernon, Washington; his sister Jane Silzer and husband Bill Thatcher of Seattle, Washington; as well as other nieces, nephews and cousins.
Donations in Mark’s name can be made to St. Matthew Lutheran Church (address above) or to the Michael J. Fox Foundation to support Parkinson's research.
Full obituary found
FORMER LIBRARY ASSISTANT
Gloria Tang served in the Middle School Library as a library assistant for over twenty years. She was kind to all, especially the shy students who sought refuge in the library. Gloria exemplified empathy in her life. She always sought to understand and listen to others. So many of our shared days together in the library began with her relating a funny story to me about someone on the MTR or on the bus. And then she would laugh. I will always hear that laugh and the kind way she would conclude a story with “You know what I mean?” It makes me smile. As a librarian, she was top-notch and knew the Dewey Decimal System as if it ran in her blood. Anyone could throw out a general query or topic, and Gloria would respond with the exact Dewey location of a relevant book. Being with Gloria reminds me of what it must have been like in the story in the Gospel when two disciples are walking along the road to Emmaus. Jesus had recently been crucified, and the disciples were grieving. As they walked along, Jesus appeared to them though they did not comprehend it was Him. He explained things to them, comforted them, and assuaged their pain. When it was time to part ways, the disciples did not want this companion on the journey to leave, so He stayed with them. Later, at meal time they recognized Jesus. Being with Gloria was like that for me. I felt the presence of something good and pure when she was there. God sent her among us at HKIS for a little while, and those of us who knew her had the joy and comfort of her companionship on our individual HKIS journeys. May Gloria Tang rest in peace.
By Maureen McCann, HKIS Middle School Librarian