The Rev. John Vernon Wackler, age 90, formerly of Howard Lake, departed this life surrounded by his family Saturday, March 3, 2018, at his home in Ardmore, OK.
He was born Sept. 19, 1928, in Howard Lake, the third of 10 children born to Edmond and Frances (Stoppelmann) Wackler. John was baptized and confirmed into the Lutheran faith at St. James Lutheran Church in Howard Lake, and grew up on the family farm north of Howard Lake, where he attended a one-room school.
John’s deep love for his native Minnesota and his farming roots were well-known to all who knew him, and a great source of his strength and character, not to mention endless stories. Known as the family historian, his near-photographic memory for minute details of his early farm life and family events including specific dates of weather events, crop yields, and the like, entertained and educated neighbor kids, grandchildren, and many others.
John left the family farm in 1948, following his older brother, Myron, into Lutheran ministry, and attending Concordia Theological Seminary at Springfield, IL.
In 1954, he accepted a call to Trinity Lutheran Church in Ardmore, OK, where he faithfully served this congregation for 39 years, including service on the district level of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod as circuit counselor and district board member.
During his ministry in southern Oklahoma, Rev. Wackler also served Hope Lutheran Church in Sulphur for 22 years as their full-time pastor. After retirement, he served congregations in Gainesville, TX, Duncan, OK, and Shawnee, OK, making many wonderful friends in these congregations.
Soon after his retirement from active ministry, Rev. Wackler joined Cross Timbers Hospice as chaplain, serving 22 years. He received the “Oklahoma Hospice Chaplain of the Year” award in 2009.
Throughout his life, John was an active member of the community. When his children were small, he served as little league coach and permanent quarterback and baseball pitcher at “Lutheran Stadium” by Broadlawn Park.
Known to the neighborhood children as “BJ,” he was a wonderful mentor and example to them. He was a faithful fan of the Ardmore and Dickson sports, especially football and basketball, attending many games, even when none of his grandchildren were playing.
In the fall, John could often be found hunting ducks on the farm ponds around Ardmore.
He served as a member of Ardmore Kiwanis and Optimist clubs; and, as a member of the Ardmore Park Board, was an active proponent for the development of Ardmore Regional Park.
Recent years found him on the end of his driveway, where he greeted passersby and shared memories of growing up in the “valley of the jolly Green Giant” in Minnesota.
He touched many lives through his ministry, was kind and gracious, sometimes a little stubborn, and beloved by his family and friends.
John is survived by his wife of almost 63 years, Dorothy; son John and his wife Diane, of Stillwater, OK, and their children, Jonathan, Megan and Abigail; son Ted and his wife Lisa, of Washington DC, and their children, Leo, Molly and Gretchen; and by daughter Julie and her husband, Sean Maher of Ardmore, OK, and their children, Colleen, Maggie, Kate and Mark.
John’s five remaining siblings, Ila Mae, Jim, Mike, Darlene, and Bob, all still reside in Minnesota; and he is also survived by many beloved nieces and nephews.
His funeral service took place Wednesday, March 7 at 10 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Ardmore, OK, with the Revs. Barrie Henke and Phillip Borntrager officiating.
Memorials may be made to Trinity Lutheran Church, or Cross Timbers Hospice. Online condolences may be made at craddockfuneralhome.com.