Father Chad Puthoff, former pastor in Cookeville, dies at 78 

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Father Chad Puthoff

Father Chad Puthoff, SDS, the former pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Cookeville, died on Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Birmingham, Alabama, after a short illness. He was 78 years old. 

A visitation will be held from 10-11 a.m. Monday, April 11, at Mother of Good Counsel Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. The interment of ashes will be in the columbarium of Salvatorian Cemetery on Loretto Hill in St. Nazianz, Wisconsin. 

A memorial Mass will be celebrated at Prince of Peace Church in Hoover, Alabama, where Father Puthoff helped out celebrating Masses in his retirement during the last couple of years. 

Father Puthoff retired from full-time ministry in 2018 after serving 12 years as pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Church. In retirement, he moved to Birmingham and later Hoover, where he helped celebrate Masses at local parishes. 

“Father Chad was a small-sized man with a big heart,” recalled his brothers and sisters in the Salvatorian family. “He was also a fast-talking man who loved interacting with people. His sense of humor and his ability to relate to almost anyone endeared him to many people in his various ministries through the years.  

“In addition to his ministerial duties, he aided the USA Province in many ways through his service on various Area and Regional Councils and as a Delegate at numerous Provincial Chapters.” 

Father Puthoff was admitted to the hospital on March 11 due to shortness of breath. He seemed to be recovering, but his heart unexpectedly began to fail, and he passed away on March 24 at the hospital. 

Father Puthoff was born to Carl and Margaret (Melcher) Puthoff in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Aug. 26, 1943. He was one of three boys in the family. He attended Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Grade School in Norwood, Nativity Parish Grade School and St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. 

Sensing a call to priestly ministry, he learned about the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians) and enrolled in Jordan Seminary in Menominee, Michigan, for one year of college studies, and Mount St. Paul College in Waukesha, Wisconsin, for the second year of college. He then entered the Society’s Novitiate in Colfax, Iowa, where he made his profession of vows on Sept. 8, 1964.  

He completed his college studies back at Mount St. Paul College and also at Marquette University in Milwaukee, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in history and philosophy. He taught for two “apostolic years” at Marian High School in Mishawaka, Indiana. While there, he took additional courses at the nearby University of Notre Dame.  

Father Puthoff completed his studies for the priesthood at Divine Savior Seminary in Lanham, Maryland, and Washington Theological Coalition in Washington, D.C., earning master’s degrees in theology from Washington Theological Coalition and history from Notre Dame. He was ordained at St. Mary’s Church in Landover Hills, Maryland, on Sept. 3, 1971. 

Father Puthoff returned to teach at Marian High School in Mishawaka for a year, and then he taught for two years in Racine, Wisconsin, at St. Catherine’s High School. During those two years, he helped out at St. Rita’s Parish in the city, and he became interested in working in parish ministry full time. He was assigned as associate pastor at that parish for a year, and then he spent four years as associate pastor at St. Joseph’s Parish in Elko, Nevada.  

Father Puthoff had a growing interest in learning the Spanish language and about Hispanic cultures, and he honed those skills as associate pastor for three years in Delevan, Wisconsin, at St. Andrew’s Parish where he was assigned to assist in ministry to the Spanish-speaking community. Then, beginning in 1983, Fr. Chad spent the next 13 years at St. Mark’s Parish in Phoenix, Arizona, first as associate pastor for two years before taking over as pastor for the remaining 11 years.  

During a sabbatical year, he spent time increasing his Spanish-speaking skills in Caracas, Venezuela, in Cookeville, Tennessee, and in Mesa, Arizona. From 1997 to 2005, he ministered at Holy Cross Parish in West Sacrament, California, for one year as associate pastor and the remaining seven years as pastor.  

In 2005, Father Puthoff returned to Cookeville, where he ministered for the next 13 years, serving as associate pastor for a year and then as pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas. Besides his ministry to the parish, Father Puthoff also served as chaplain to the ever-growing Spanish-speaking community in Putnam County. Many of the people had come there from Guatemala. He was well-loved by the community, and he made them feel at home in their new country. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, Carl and Margaret. He is survived by his two brothers, David (Barbara) and Joseph (Susan) of Cincinnati; four nieces and one nephew; as well as his brothers and sisters in the Salvatorian family. 

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