G. Corwin Stoppel, rector and mystery novelist

Rev. G. Corwin Stoppel
Rev. G. Corwin Stoppel
Photo: David Hoekman

By David Hoekman

The Rev. G. Corwin Stoppel is the longtime rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Saugatuck — and a mystery novelist.

Stoppel’s self-published novel, The Great Saugatuck Murder Mystery, was released in May.

On the job

For 26 years, Stoppel has served as the rector of All Saints’, writing sermons and making pastoral visits.

“In many ways, Saugatuck and All Saints’ are still in the 19th century,” Stoppel said. “I say that in a positive way, because of the gentleness and care in the way people look after each other.”

Great Saugatuck Murder Mystery
The Great Saugatuck Murder Mystery is available at Saugatuck Drug Store, It is What It Is, the Star of Saugatuck and Amazon.com.

Off the job

Stoppel is married to Pat Dewey, a professional artist who is involved with Ox-Bow School of Art, at the Saugatuck campus.

He said he often accompanies his “partner in mystery” to Ox-Bow. While there, the genial white-haired cleric came up with the idea for a murder mystery novel set in the 1920s, when Saugatuck was the Paris of the Midwest. While the story flows from Stoppel’s imagination, he included actual locations, like the long-gone Big Pavilion.

“Frankly, I just had fun with it,” Stoppel said about writing the mystery.

Writing fiction and a weekly column for The Commercial Record newspaper is a hobby for Stoppel.

“I’m keeping my day job,” he said.

For Stoppel, the actual writing of The Great Saugatuck Murder Mystery was the hardest part of the project. “The plot was easy enough and the characters were easy,” he said. “Staying with it to the end was the challenge.”

Stoppel also enjoys gardening and has been known to play the accordion, oboe and bagpipe.

Stoppel loves Saugatuck’s people, its walkable nature and its visual art and music offerings. Earlier this year he received Saugatuck’s 2016 Tony Vettori Citizen of the Year award.

“I really believe a day away from Saugatuck is a day wasted,” he said. n