“Brownie” served at church ambassador

By Sandy Bond

“We always had dogs when I was growing up on the river bottom in the 1940s,” Pastor Richard Nultemeier said, “I always believed dogs were special and Brownie was extra special.”Of Native American heritage, Richard was adopted by Roy and Elsie Nultemeier when he was three. He recalls the terrible winter of 1951, and the subsequent spring of 1952, when the Mighty Mo crested six and a half feet above flood stage.

“This was just a few years before the government built the dams,” he said. “The government bought us out and our family moved to Mobridge.”

Richard met Barb at the Church of the Nazarene in Tucson, Ariz. They fell in love, were married and had three children. Richard found employment in California as an auto parts factory representative. At the age of 36, he received a call to the ministry. He went back to school at the Nazarene Bible College, Colorado Springs, Colo., when Robert was 2, Michelle, 12, and Ricky, 14. Barb helped support the family by working as a secretary.

“It wasn’t easy,” Barb said, “but we were all behind him.”

They were living in California when Brownie came into their lives. Barb had gone to visit her mother in Elk Grove, and Richard was home with Rob when he felt that a dog would be a great addition to the family.

“I figured a dog that would be good with the kids; a hunting dog would be a plus,” he said. “A German shorthaired pointer filled the bill.”

While Barb was unaware, he and Rob went to pick out just the right pup that would make their family complete.

“In a litter of eight liver and white pups, Brownie picked us out,” Richard said. “While the other puppies were busy playing with each other, Brownie came right over to me.”

For a tiny 10-pound pup, he carried such an enormous name, General LeRoy Brown that was shortened to Brownie.

When Barb returned home, Brownie confidently and affectionately greeted her at the door.

“I’m really a cat person,” Barb said.

However, like everyone that Brownie would ever meet, he wiggled his way into her heart also, Richard said.

When Richard felt the call to return home to minister to the Native Americans, the entire family followed, although Barb hated snow.

Richard became the pastor of the New Freedom in Christ Church on Third Street East and Brownie became the unofficial ambassador of goodwill.

For the last seven years Brownie charmed the family and ultimately the parishioners and all their friends and neighbors. Spreading joy and love seemed to be his mission in life – Brownie never met a man, women, child, or dog or cat that he didn’t love.

He was a bit of a pacifist, and nearly got his nose bit by a more aggressive pooch, Barb recalled.

Before Barb succumbed to temptation, Brownie helped keep Barb svelte by licking the mixing bowl and beater blades when she baked a cake, Richard said. Whenever he heard the mixer, he knew it was time for a snack.

“He loved to help in the garden,” Barb said, “and would harvest the baby carrots, cukes, string beans and tomatoes – but only the ripe ones!”

Brownie being very photogenic, Barb couldn’t help but take lots of photos – one with a straw garden hat. He never even found it demeaning to pose as a reindeer for the children’s Christmas card.

Richard works part-time at Stout Funeral Home and Brownie always knew when it was time to drop in at the office for visit with Joe and Denise Stout for their morning coffee and a treat or two.

Fourteen is an advanced age for a large dog like a German shorthair, the vet said, and, indeed, Brownie began to slow down. At the end he was losing his vision but never his heart.

A wise dog lover once said, “As humans, we have the enviable ability to know when our pets lose the quality of life.”

Believed to have terminal cancer, bleeding and losing weight, Richard knew when it was time.

Brownie ashes will be spread in the church garden next spring and will forever be close to those he loved.

Want to read more?

Click here to subscribe to our online e-edition or click here to have our print edition delivered to your door.


Mobridge Spotlight