Amish Bishop Overcomes Stutter

Some of you might know Amish bishop David Kline from his books about nature, farming and life, such as Great Possessions or Scratching the Woodchuck. But you wouldn’t expect someone who is a church leader, preacher and public speaker to have dealt with a stutter. However, that’s what David has had to overcome in life. His story is recounted in a nice article/radio piece from Ideastream.

Photo by Don Burke

I don’t really “know” David, thought have visited him once or twice and spoke with him at some length. I had no idea he had anything like a stutter, nothing in what I heard from him suggested that. From the article:

Kline was born in a farmhouse behind his home in Fredericksburg, Ohio, about 10 miles south of Wooster.

“This farm has been in my family since 1918, and it’s always been a working farm. The farm has always supported us,” Kline said.

He brought his bride, Elsie, to this farm where they raised five children, all of whom are also farmers.

One of the few times he lived away from the farm was when he attended the Bogue Institute for Stammerers in Indianapolis when he was 16 years old. It was a six-week speech correction school that closed in 1970. The school taught self-confidence, something he struggled with due to the stutter, he said.

“There’s a whole table of people somewhere, ‘OK, let’s have introductions.’ It comes down the line. It’s like a firing squad, you know your time’s coming. And I take a deep breath, fill up, ‘I’m David Kline,’ because d’s, they’ve been always been difficult for me,” Kline said.

He learned to take a deep breath, fill his lungs full of air and begin talking without stopping.

He was first able to conquer his stutter in English:

Kline was drafted during the Vietnam War, passed the oral test and worked at Marymount Hospital in Garfield Heights for two years. It was easier to get the words out when speaking English to staff and patients because he learned how to correct his stutter in English, he said. Switching between dialects at home was hard and brought back the stutter at times. He spoke English, Pennsylvania Dutch and High German, a dialect from Alsace Germany.

Photo by Don Burke

I found this very interesting. I speak a second language besides English, and I’ve found that when switching languages, it can affect both the way you think/process in some ways, and also which parts of your mouth/muscles you use. Perhaps those elements factor into the equation. But maybe more important, attitude and outlook also played a role:

But what really changed “is when I learned to laugh at myself. And that was very, very difficult. And the other was when I actually could thank God for my handicap,” Kline said.

I found it inspiring and a nice slice of one Amish person’s life. Read the whole thing here.

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    1. john

      Amish service

      I find it interesting in the article that Dave was drafted into the Army during Vietnam and served in a hospital. I thought they were CO to military service.

      1. Sunflower

        Military Service

        I believe there’s an article on this site about that. I seem to remember that they can request to be put in types of support services so as not to participate in actual combat. Working in a hospital would be a way to satisfy the government and the Church at the same time.

        1. Lizzieann Troyer

          Yes, Amish served in hospitals

          You are right the Amish boys who were drafted served 2 years in the hospitals at one time. I remember growing up Amish my older cousins did that. One ended up marrying a nurse and never returning to the Amish church.
          Then the Amish negotiated an option in which the young draftees could go work for an Amish farmer in another Community instead. They said it wouldn’t be fair if didn’t have to leave home at all. We knew a number of those from our Community working in another Community.
          There again several got married in that Community, but being it was similar to our Amish church it was not a problem. Before my oldest brother reached drafting age 18, they had discontinued the draft.

    2. Dennis Morley

      Amish Lady's Caps

      My wife an I were at lunch in Jackson County, MI An Amish family (husband, wife & 3 teen daughters) in full Amish dress with an *englishman entered the restaurant. Once all were seated with their food, the ladies removed their black caps & revealed white caps, underneath. What are the rules regarding that? Thank You!!

    3. BH

      Sweet story

      I’ve twice heard David Kline speak at an event and I’ve also spoken to him in person. I certainly detected no sign of a stutter, but what did come across was his kind, positive, down-to-earth personality.