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Statler Family Obituaries

Griesse, Wilbert E., Rev.

The Rev. Wilbert E Griesse departed this life Dec. 12, 2002, at his home in Fort Smith.

He was born May 11, 1917, in Meinert, Mo.

He was an ordained Lutheran Church Missouri Synod minister for more than 60 years. The son of a Lutheran minister, he was one of six brothers who followed their father's footsteps into the ministry. In 1936 he graduated from St. Paul's Academy and College in Concordia, Mo., and in 1940 graduated from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. He served at churches in Perryville, Mo., North Little Rock, Farmington, Mo., and in 1959 accepted a call to First Lutheran Church in Fort Smith.

In 1966, while continuing to serve as parish minister, he was elected president of the newly founded Mid-South District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. The Mid-South District currently includes more than 130 churches in a three-state area. In 1971, he was elected chairman of the Missouri Synod's Council of Presidents, a position he held for 12 years. In 1976, Concordia Seminary conferred upon his the doctor of divinity degree. In 1978 he transferred to Memphis, Tenn., and became the full-time president of the Mid-South District, the position he held until his retirement in 1985.  In 1989, the Rev. and Doris Griesse returned to Fort Smith.  The Rev. Griesse enjoyed playing golf and bridge along with cooking and gardening.

The Rev. Griesse is survived by his loving wife of more than 60 years, the former Doris Schamburg. He is also survived by nine children, Dennis and Deborah of Little Rock, Kurt of Fort Smith, Sandra and her husband Bill of Amarillo, Texas, David and his wife Paula of Fort Smith, Dan and his wife Marge of Fort Smith, Beverly of Boulder, Colo., Martha and her husband Frank of Memphis, Tenn., and Susan and her husband Peter of London, England. He is also survived by eight grandchildren, Rachel, Mark, John and Nicole Griesse of Fort Smith, Evan and Birch Griesse of Fayetteville, Randall Heck of Amarillo, Texas, and Jason and Lindsey Jones of Fort Smith. He is also survived by two brothers, Elmer Griesse of Lacey, Wash., and Robert Griesse of Waltham, Mass.; and two sisters, Lois Hayer of Bloomer, Ind., and Doris Snyder of Kansas City, Mo. Two sons, Larry and Gerald, preceded him in death.

The family will visit with friends from 6:30 to 8 p.m. today at Edwards Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held Monday 1 p.m. at First Lutheran Church in Fort Smith. A private graveside service will be held at Roselawn Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Joe McKinney, Bob Lindow, Billy Bob Williams, Don Heard, Dr. William Shaver IV, Don Cholcher, Lou Fellwock and Bennie Westphal. Honorary pallbearers will be Bill Shaver III, Robert Taake, Bruce Paddock, Bill Freeze, Ray Ussery and Frank Forest.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to First Lutheran Church, 419 N. 12th St., Fort Smith, AR 72901.


Obituary printed in the December 15, 2002 edition of The Times Record newspaper, Fort Smith AR.

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Last Updated: May 16, 2008