Rare Gutenberg Bible finds its way to Lovell native

A 1716 edition of the Gutenberg Bible belongs to a member of the local Winterholler family. Dr. Bert Winterholler, recently retired oral surgeon from Billings, is the owner of this unique collector’s Bible.

Dr. Winterholler, a Lovell native, served an LDS mission in South Germany from 1966-’69. During that time foreign speaking missionaries served more than the typical two-year assignment. He and his companion, Harold Sellers, were sent to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, meaning “red fortress above the Tauber” located in the Franconia region of Bavaria, Germany.

The 1716 edition of the 1697 Gutenburg Bible is translated by Martin Luther. The cover is a wood panel bound in pigskin, and each page is handmade causing the texture of the pages to be noticeably different. Ornate pictures in the Bible were intricate designed woodcuts and pressed into the paper. The apocrypha, which is typically omitted from present-day printings, is included in this Bible, along with the old and new testaments. The German writing is in commentary style in which a section of scripture is followed by the interpretation of the same verses.
Dustin McClure photos

This small town has preserved its historical image of medieval time. With extended arms, one can touch the houses on each side of the street in the old residential area. There had never been LDS missionaries sent to Rothenburg because it was too small. At the request of one woman, Helma Hahn, who had an interest in the LDS Church, Winterholler and his companion were sent to meet her.

The young missionary men were informed of an American woman, married to a wealthy industrialist named Hans Teichert, who lived in Rothenburg. One day, while tracting, doing door-to-door

evangelism, they encountered a woman who made it very clear she had no interest in their testimony. Asthey were leaving, they were headed toward the city gate. Just before they got to the gate they heard another woman calling, “Come back here.” They introduced themselves and discovered this was the American woman, Gloria Teichert. She invited them to her home.

“We knew something was afoot when we arrived. She and her husband had remodeled a medieval prison for their home. She invited us in. We got to know her quite well.”

The Catholic priest and Lutheran minister of Rothenburg were not on good terms. So when they published a joint article that said “Beware of Mormons” Gloria was upset. She knew they were not friendly except in their effort to keep the Mormon religion out of Rothenburg.

Gloria vowed to help the young Mormon missionaries. She organized a dinner. “It was an incredible meal,” Winterholler said. “She invited nine newly-ordained Catholic priests, one of whom was from Montana. He was studying linguistics at the Vatican. Among the other guests were two agnostic friends and two philosophers.

After dinner Gloria asked her guests to come into the study. She sat them in a rather intimate grouping and announced, “The Mormons have the floor. Listen to them.”

Gloria’s husband was a collector of art, as well as old manuscripts and Bibles. The couple invited Winterholler to the upper floor to Mr. Teichert’s library many times. “I was fascinated with old books,” Dr. Winterholler expressed. “I spent a fair amount of time with them (the Teicherts). They were very friendly and we became good friends.”

Gloria was not happy when the missionaries’ assignment in Rothenburg was completed. “She was upset,” Winterholler shared. “The day I left she brought the Bible to me. She gave that Gutenberg Bible to me.”

Gloria Teichert’s husband, Hans, died in 1994, the same year that Dr. Winterholler’s father, Bert, died. Gloria moved from Germany to Oregon to be near a brother and sister. Dr. Winterholler reconnected with her at that time and the other members of his family have become friends with this fascinating woman, as well.

She is now 95 and lives in assisted living in California. Her extravagant collection includes a Da Vinci painting, of which there are only nine in existence. Another piece, a life-sized sculpture of Christ in repose, is in the Artistry Museum at BYU.

And that is how Dr. Bert Winterholler, one of Lovell’s own, came to be the owner of a 1716 Gutenberg Bible.

“Some people say that it should be under glass in a controlled environment. This Bible has survived wars and many other things through time. I don’t think I’m going to do anything that would harm it,” Winterholler said of his treasured Bible.

BY Teressa Ennis