Rennie Fiegen Scharlau ’61 and Ed Scharlau ’61 walk along the pond at EIsenach Vill
Rennie Fiegen Scharlau ’61 and Ed Scharlau ’61 walk along the pond at EIsenach Village.


For alumni living in Waverly’s Eisenach Village, reconnecting with their alma mater is a year-round opportunity thanks to a partnership established in 2006 between  Wartburg and Bartels Lutheran Retirement Community.

Initially proposed by former Wartburg President Jack Ohle, Eisenach Village got under way after Wartburg sold 30 acres of land to Bartels and helped ease the financial burden of the project by deferring part of the payment until lots were sold.

The first townhomes were completed in 2009, and a Klubhaus for social gatherings opened in 2013. Eisenach Village reached a milestone at the end of 2022, when the final units opened for occupancy, creating a community of 92 townhomes. The 137 village residents include 29 alumni and two honorary alumni.

Bartels operates the independent living community for those age 55 and older. Wartburg offers benefits that include an ID card providing free admission to athletic events and a discount at the college store and campus eateries. Village residents are entitled to one free session per year of Wartburg’s Keep on Learning program and can audit a Wartburg class free of charge. Residents receive one free ticket each to Christmas with Wartburg. They can also join The W with no activation fee.

Elle Gerdes Blobaum ’66 and Harry Bloboaum ’66 sit outside at Eisenach Village.
Elle Gerdes Blobaum ’66 and Harry Bloboaum ’66 sit outside at Eisenach Village.

Ed ’61 and Rennie Fiegen ’61 Scharlau were living in Austin, Texas, when they began discussing the move to a retirement community.

“Easy access to sports, church, and music were all on our list,” said Rennie. “We also wanted to be closer to family and to be able to meet people and keep our minds active.”

The Scharlaus had Wartburg friends living in Eisenach Village, and Ed had already organized Water to Thrive well projects through Waverly-Shell Rock schools. They made their initial commitment in 2015 and moved to Waverly in May 2018. Serendipitously, they live in the same quad as June Rickhoff Mehlhaus ’61, Rennie’s senior-year housemate at Wartburg.

Several village residents are involved in the Wartburg Scholarship Club, which provides treats for students to raise money for scholarships. Many residents attend music, cultural, and sporting events and support booster groups. Others help provide food for international students during college breaks and serve on the Keep on Learning planning committee.

 “I think it’s been a good partnership,” said Scott Leisinger ’87, Wartburg’s vice president for institutional advancement. “I’m always surprised at the number of alumni, regardless of where they are from, who have a genuine affinity for Waverly.”

Harry ’66 and Elle Gerdes ’66 Blobaum made the decision to move to Eisenach Village in 2019.

“We like the feeling of living a rural life with a pond and walking trail just outside our door, but we also have the convenience of nearby shopping and cultural activities,” said Harry. “We enjoy the involvement opportunities, social interaction, and exchange of ideas.”

Angie Daniels, Bartels marketing and development coordinator, describes Eisenach Village residents as “a community of caring and talented individuals who support our main campus in a variety of ways.”

“Some volunteer on the main campus, donate treats and goodies to the staff and residents, or donate monetarily toward our fundraising efforts,” Daniels said. “They are wonderful representatives of Bartels and Wartburg in the Waverly community.”