Canadian stalwart honored during Pres. Monson's visit

Just before sunset on Saturday, Aug. 9, a procession of cars threaded its way into Kingston's immense Cataraqui Cemetery. In quiet, still surroundings, President Thomas S. Monson presided over and delivered an address in a ceremony memorializing one of eastern Canada's stalwart members of the Church, Gustav Wacker.

Brother Wacker, born Nov. 4, 1900, near Mannheim, Germany, died June 29, 1983. President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, stood at a portable podium as he spoke to about 50 family members and friends of Brother Wacker. Among the small group was Brother Wacker's widow, Margarete. President Monson called to memory many compassionate deeds Brother Wacker performed and of the efforts he made to help the Church flourish in Canada. Brother Wacker was president of the Kingston Branch at the time President Monson presided over the Canadian Mission.President Monson said: "To me, he personified the description of the Lord speaking of Nathanael, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!' (John 1:47.) If you've ever found the truth of the old adage,What you see is what you get,' it would be Gustav Wacker - faithful, true, proud of the little branch. . . ."

President Monson said that when he was mission president he became concerned because Brother Wacker was giving much more than 10 percent of his income as tithing. He said that he asked Brother Wacker if he understood that only 10 percent was required. "Brother Wacker nodded his head . . . but then he kept giving much more than 10 percent." President Monson said that when he asked Sister Wacker about it, she said, "But he loves to give it."

He spoke of the commitment and dedication with which the Wackers lived the gospel, of the many prayers the couple offered in their home. He said they took seriously the scriptural admonition to pray over all things.

"I'm happy that I knew Gustav Wacker, because he taught me so many lessons. He loved his homeland; he loved Canada and America. He served the Church a long time. This man was a finisher."

President Monson referred to an article he wrote for the Relief Society magazine years ago. He said that he began by writing about men who went all over the world searching for the fountain of youth. "I wrote that I knew two people who may not have found the fountain of youth but who had found the fountain of truth, Brother and Sister Wacker," President Monson said.

"In later years, Brother and Sister Wacker were temple missionaries in the house of the Lord, the temple in Washington, D.C. One day, they sat down together in the temple, he in his white suit and she in her white clothing. He said, `I am tired,' rested his head on her shoulder, and quietly slipped away to meet the Lord."

After President Monson concluded speaking, he and Sister Monson walked with Sister Wacker up a gentle slope in the cemetery where he placed a Sesquicentennial Pioneer Gravestone Marker on the headstone of Brother Wacker's grave. (The marker, now on back order, may be purchased for $8 through the Salt Lake Distribution Center, 1000 W. 1700 South, Salt Lake city, Utah 84104; telephone 801-240-5274.)

Also participating in the informal ceremony at the cemetery was Roy A. Prete, one of Brother Wacker's successors as president of the Kingston Branch. Brother Prete said that as a youth in the Kingston Branch, he was greatly influenced by Brother Wacker.

He told of Brother Wacker's boyhood in Germany and of the early stirrings he had about God and religion. Gustav Wacker was baptized in Frankfurt in 1920. He served his first mission for the Church from 1928-1930 in Germany, and was branch president in Mannheim and Heilbronner from 1934-35. Called to serve in the German Army during World War II, he was captured by the Americans in October 1944 and was a prisoner of War until July 1945. His first wife died in 1942. He married Margarete M. Dietrich in 1947.

They immigrated to Canada in 1952. He was branch president in Kingston for 12 years, beginning when the branch was organized in 1952. He served a second mission to Germany with Sister Wacker in 1974-75, and in February 1982 they began serving as ordinance workers in the Washington Temple.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed