Authorities searched Monday for a 77-year-old Kansas City man who was reportedly last seen Sunday afternoon fishing on the property of a nudist camp southwest of Topeka.
Lt. Jay Simecka with the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Department said Bruce Rahtjen of Kansas City was reported missing about 5:30 p.m. Sunday near the 5500 block of Indian Hills Road.
After suspending the search effort Sunday night due to inclement weather, water rescue teams with the Mission Township and Shawnee Heights fire departments continued to survey the lake and woods throughout the day Monday, Simecka said. A canine unit with the Kansas Search and Rescue Dog Association was also on the scene.
Simecka said Rahtjen, a former Episcopal priest, was last seen wading through water on the property of Lake Edun. Rahtjen’s wife, JoAnn, said Monday that her husband was fishing at a location he had visited for several years.
Rahtjen was appointed to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Kansas City in 1990 and retired in 1999. According to previous reports by The Star, he later became a pastor at Melrose Methodist Church in Kansas City and also served as president of the Historic Kansas City Foundation.
Bruce Prince-Joseph, music director at St. Mary’s during Rahtjen’s tenure, said that Rahtjen was a biblical scholar and “a very important man of theology.”
He said Rahtjen was recruited by the Episcopal Diocese of West Missouri to restore St. Mary’s, at 13th and Holmes streets.
“He was really quite a brilliant man, and we were able to accomplish so many wonderful things at St. Mary’s,” Prince-Joseph said.
Simecka said authorities have no reason to believe criminal activity was involved in Sunday’s disappearance.
A contact listed for Lake Edun would not comment on the foundation’s membership and referred all inquires to the Lake Edun website, which describes the camp as “an educational foundation devoted to promoting Naturist values and lifestyles to the general public.”
Rahtjen’s wife declined to comment on the nudist camp.
“I just need to watch to see what’s going on at this time,” she said.
To reach Joel Walsh, call 816-234-4328 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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