Paul Kondy left a significant mark on family, friends, and every community he served as a pastor with the American Baptist Church.
No community was more beloved to Paul than Arthur, population 118, where he lived for a cumulative 32 years, first as a pastor then as a retiree. He cherished his time in the western Nebraska town so much that, after his passing in February 2021, his family requested that any memorials be directed to Arthur Area Community Foundation Fund (AACFF), an affiliated fund of Nebraska Community Foundation.
Tim Knott, a local veterinarian, member of the AACFF advisory committee, and member of the Arthur Baptist Church congregation said Paul was a natural fit for the community.
“He identified pretty well with our culture,” Knott said, adding that the pastor would frequently help local ranchers with branding and other tasks. “Paul was more the cowboy-type individual. Relationships were very important to him.”
Paul fell in love with ranching at a young age when his family moved to Oklahoma, where his dad was a pastor. When they set out to relocate to Denver, Paul wanted to stay behind with a local ranching family. That didn’t fly, but he continued to follow that passion.
“He liked the ranching community,” said Joanne Kondy, Paul’s wife. “He always wanted to be in an area with ranching and that’s where most of his ministry took place.”
Paul graduated high school in Colorado and attended Colorado State University (CSU) to study animal husbandry. He even suited up as a rodeo clown for a collegiate competition. “He got knocked around,” Joanne said. “But it didn’t dampen his love of rodeo.”
After graduating from CSU in 1959, Paul ventured southeast to Louisville, Kentucky. There he enrolled in the Southern Baptist Seminary, where he met Joanne. They began their 59-year marriage not long after.
During his first year in seminary, Paul felt doubt about his calling and enlisted in the Navy. After his discharge, Paul worked on a ranch in western South Dakota. It was there under a blanket of blue sky where he heard the call again. He returned to Louisville and completed his studies, graduating in 1969. He was ready to serve the ranching communities he loved so much.
When Joanne and Paul relocated to Arthur from South Dakota early on in his career, they fell in love with the community. They lived there for eight years, the longest of any community Paul served.
“The Arthur experience was one of the happiest times of his ministry,” Joanne said. “He really enjoyed being out with the ranchers. I think that was a surprise for some of them because they never had a minister that wanted to be involved in their work.”
Their daughter Rachel Schroeder remembers her father as having an open mind and welcoming presence.
“I don’t think he would’ve turned anybody away,” she said. “Whether they went to church or they didn’t.”
After finishing his career, Paul and Joanne retired to Arthur in 1998. Joanne said Arthur was Paul’s happy place. Schroeder cherishes the time her own children spent in Arthur with their grandparents.
“They loved going out there,” she said. “They just had a little more freedom.”
Memorials given to Arthur Area Community Foundation Fund will allow local volunteers to maintain the virtues that made Arthur so appealing to Paul—and set it up for a bright future. Knott said he’s always surprised at the list of the Fund’s accomplishments, like money to assist with repairing the local pool, adding amenities to parks, and a whole host of scholarships for Arthur residents.
“It gives people a vehicle to give back to the community in a way that’s community-oriented,” he said. “We have a way for people to invest in our hometown.”
In the coming decades, our state will experience the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in its history. Some will go to taxes. Most will go to heirs. Due to outmigration, many of those heirs no longer live where the wealth was built and may no longer feel connected to those places. Once wealth leaves our communities, the opportunity for give-back becomes more and more unlikely. Learn more at www.fivetothrivene.org.