James Robert Ensign

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.  Psalm 139: 9-10

February 3, 2018, at the age of 89, James Robert Ensign rose on the wings of the morning to dwell at the right hand of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As an ordained Lutheran minister, Bob’s Christian faith was the bedrock of his life, and he centered all he did on his belief in God’s promises of grace and forgiveness, redemption and everlasting life.

He is survived by Mary, his loving wife of 68 years; daughters, Elizabeth (Barry) Latoszewski of Vermontville, Mary Copping of Whitehall, Sarah (Tom) Gruber of Rockford, Laura (Brad) Beyer of Onsted; and his son, Paul (Terry) Ensign of Blanco, Texas; along with many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his older brother, Earl (Katherine) Ensign of Toledo; and brother-in-law, Carl (Joyce) Satre of Syracuse, Ind.

Bob was born March 22, 1928 in Toledo, Ohio, the son of Earl Scott Ensign and Grace Borgelt Ensign. He graduated from DeVilbiss High School in 1946, attended the University of Toledo, and enlisted in the United States Air Force. He and his dear “Marybelle” were married by her father, the Rev. W. Carl Satre on April 14, 1950 at Augsburg Lutheran Church in Toledo. He worked as a journeyman pattern maker for his father at the Ensign Foundry in Toledo for several years. They moved to Springfield, Ohio where he enrolled at Wittenberg University, and the Hamma School of Divinity. In May 1961 he was ordained as a Lutheran minister (ULCA/LCA). He served as pastor of Bethel Lutheran Church in Springfield, Ohio; All Saints Lutheran Church in Worthington, Ohio; and Christ Lutheran Church in Monroe, Mich. A talented photographer, he later joined the La-Z-Boy Chair Company in Monroe as head of commercial photography and cinematography.

In 1988 Bob and Mary moved to Cedarville, Mich. and became faithful members of Bethel Lutheran Church. A man of boundless curiosity, Bob used retirement to pursue his many interests as a licensed pilot with an instructor rating, a HAM radio enthusiast, photographer, sailor, and serious amateur astronomer. A skilled woodworker, he crafted numerous wooden boats including a 24-foot twin masted “Sharpie” sailboat, which he christened “Wings of Morning.” In 2002, at 74, he sailed this boat solo on Lake Huron in a roundtrip east from Cedarville to circumnavigate Drummond Island.

The Ensigns moved to Charlotte in 2004 to be closer to their children and found a welcoming family at First Lutheran Church in Charlotte. Bob continued his studies in astronomy and enjoyed many nights of stargazing from his backyard. Bob and Mary became residents of Cambrian Assisted Living in Tecumseh, Mich. in 2015 with a church home at Grace Lutheran. They returned to Charlotte in 2017 as residents of the Eaton County Health and Rehabilitation Services. The family wishes to thank the staff at ECHRS and Sparrow Hospital for their compassionate care. We rejoice in Bob’s triumph over death, and say with the Apostle Paul: “Thanks Be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ who gives us the victory!”

Funeral services were held Thursday, February 8, 2018 at First Lutheran Church of Charlotte, with Rev. Timothy Olson officiating. Interment took place in Kalamo Hillside Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to First Lutheran Church of Charlotte.

Friends and family are encouraged to share memories of Bob on his tribute page at PrayFuneral.com.