Recently we received the following obituary and summary of the life of Philip Luttio, missionary and pastor – and father to Pastor Steve Luttio who served as our pastor here at the Japanese Congregational Church for over two decades. Please take a moment to read this inspiring summary and to take encouragement from the life of this humble servant. Our prayers are with Pastor Steve and Betty…
A Summary of Philip Luttio’s Life
Philip Ray Luttio was born at the New Asbury Hospital in Minneapolis, MN on May 15, 1924 to his parents, Vaino and Lempi Luttio. He was baptized in September 1924 and confirmed on May 8, 1938. Phil and his 5 siblings grew up together in a lively musical household where he took up clarinet and became a very skilled musician. They lived on Penn Avenue and then later moved to Wayzata, MN. The family joined Oak Knoll Lutheran Church in 1941. Phil personally committed his life to the Lord at a summer camp the summer of 1942. He graduated from Wayzata High School in June of 1943 and then enlisted in the army a month later. He was severely wounded at Iwo Jima in March of 1945, awarded the Purple Heart, and was hospitalized for about a half year in Guam and Denver. After discharge in October, he attended the Minneapolis LBI for two terms in the new year and transferred to Suomi College, attending from the fall of 1946 until the spring of 1948. On June 30, 1948 he married Margaret Birkedal whom he had met at Oak Knoll Lutheran Church. He then attended St Olaf College for one year, graduating in 1949. The happy couple had 4 children, Karen born in 1949, Stephen born in 1951, Miriam born in 1954 and Mark born in 1958.
Phil attended Luther Seminary in St Paul, MN from September 1949 through May 1952. Then Phil and Margaret sailed to Japan along with Karen and baby Steve in August 1952 to work as missionaries with the Lutheran church. Phil worked with and pastored churches mainly between Tokyo and Nagoya: Tokiwadai,Tokyo 52-53, Omori 53-54, Yokosuka 54-55, Handa 55-58, Shimada 59-64, MN furlough 64-65, Tokyo 65-67 (65-66 they were dorm parents for missionary kids while Phil took Japanese classes at ICU and 66-67 was spent at the Todai Student Center at Tokyo University). They worked in Nagoya from 1967-1970 and then returned to Tokyo where Phil worked from 1971-1982 with Rev. Kojima at a church where half of the members were deaf. Phil’s last assignment in Japan was in Toyohashi from 1982-1989.
Phil’s musical and artistic talents were invaluable tools in his evangelistic ministry. Phil directed his family band and choir made up of Phil, Margaret, and the four children from the time they were young. During their 1970-1971 furlough year, they made a professional recording and traveled about 10,000 miles around the perimeter of the United States performing at churches, colleges and even Madison Square Garden. They returned to Japan to do music evangelism throughout all Japan as well.
Upon retirement, after 37 years of ministry in Japan, Phil and Margaret settled in San Pedro, CA where they lived for 31 years. He continued to play clarinet with Margaret on piano and enjoyed painting and wood carving. They also enjoyed ministering and traveling all over the world and spending lots of quality time with their children and growing grandchildren. For their last 10 years there, they received extensive care from their daughter Miriam with help from their granddaughter Kristina. In August of 2020 they moved to Roseville, MN to live in the home of their daughter Karen and her husband Paul, receiving care from them, their daughter Naomi, and Phil’s son Steve. Surrounded by the songs and sounds of his beloved family, Phil’s chariot came to carry him home on December 7, 2020, at age 96. He is survived by his beloved wife, Margaret, his sister, Joanna Monson, his four children Karen Anderson (Paul), Stephen Luttio (Elizabeth. Blaine, MN), Miriam Varvais (Tim. Rancho Palos Verdes, CA) , and Mark Luttio (Shirley. Boca Raton, FL). He also is fondly remembered by his 14 grandchildren* and 27 great grandchildren along with many nieces and nephews.
We are thankful for the life and legacy of this faithful, godly man.
Memorial gifts can be given to the Christian ministry of your choice.
*Andrew Anderson, Naomi Anderson, Gabriel Anderson, Erikka Shepp, Israel Anderson, Karis Alex; Rachel Wolff, Sara Johnstone, Rebecca Luttio; Kristina Varvais; Jacob Luttio, Marcia Pistotti, Isaac Luttio, Melissa Campbell.