Carl Charles Engel


Carl Engel, a violinist and cornet player, was a versatile musician who spent most of his career at Union College, where he directed instrumental ensembles for over forty years. The music building at the college was named for him at the time of his retirement.

Carl was born in Hutchinson County, South Dakota, on October 3, 1885, the youngest surviving of five children of Karl and Caroline Reimche Engel, both of whom had been born in Russia. When his father died two years following his birth, his mother married John Engel, who had come from Russia in 1885.

When Engel arrived at Union College in 1909 at age 24, the school had been in existence for only eighteen years and, like other Adventist colleges, offered a limited number of courses in few areas. Even though he had attended Yankton College in South Dakota for only one year, he was an accomplished performer on violin, which he had started at age ten, and on trumpet, which he had supposedly played in a circus band. An avid student of both instruments, he would take lessons whenever he could. After completing a music degree at the nearby University of Nebraska in 1920, he continued lessons during the summers at Chicago Musical College and the Juilliard School of Music.

Engel was highly respected for his artistry on both the violin and trumpet, and admired for his genial and kind personality. Over the years he endeared himself to students and colleagues as he performed, taught, and conducted both band and orchestra. With the exception of four years, 1915-1919, when he directed music at Clinton German Theological Seminary, a Seventh-day Adventist institution located in Missouri, he spent his entire career at UC, serving for many years as chair of the music department.

In his final year at UC he chaired a music program spanning all levels from elementary to college that involved seventeen teachers and over 600 students, 400 of whom were taking lessons at the college level. A new music building, completed in 1946, was later named for him, and he was given emeritus status in 1952, four years after his retirement in 1948.

Engel was married to Marie E. Krause and they had two daughters, Marcella G. and Clayoma I. The Engels were living in College View, Nebraska, when he died on July 21, 1966, at age 80. She would die a decade later, on July 21, 1976, at age 92.


Sources: Union College publications, 1910 to 1948; UNION College of the Golden Cords, Everett Dick, 1967, 263; Information provided by Chloe Foutz (UC Librarian), emails, 7 March 2002; 10 March 2002; Obituary, Central Union Reaper, May 24, 1966, pg. 11; 1910 and 1920 U.S. Federal Census; Goehring Family Tree,; Social Security Death Records. Note: Different sources provide varying dates for the beginning and ending years for Engel's service at UC. Those given here are based on contemporary publications at the time of his start, teaching leave at CGTS, and retirement.