So begins the service folder for the Victory Service of Roland A. Gurgel, celebrated with family and friends at Messiah Lutheran Church, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, on Feb. 16, 2014.
We thank God for sharing Roland A. Gurgel with us and for giving him the dynamic personality that empowered him to serve for over fifty years in the public gospel ministry. Roland seemed the embodiment of the Scriptural principle: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10a).
Gardening and cardiovascular walking were among his hobbies, but preaching and teaching were his heart’s delight. He served five congregations as full-time shepherd (1945-59) before becoming professor at Immanuel Lutheran College, Eau Claire (1964-86).
Roland’s strong personality traits (dynamic, dedicated, direct) were coupled with a strong work ethic. Permeating all was his God-given dedication to the Truth, which made him a notable soldier among God’s troops.
Roland is now among those saints whose labors have nurtured his heirs and friends, colleagues, former students, and parishioners. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them’” (Revelation 14:13).
Roland Gurgel was born October 10, 1920 in Wonewoc, Wisconsin, God’s gift to Herman Gurgel and Flora (nee Pohl), the last of four boys who was then followed by three girls. Roland was blessed to spend his grade school years under the guidance and influence of his father, the principal teacher at St. Paul’s congregation. Following his confirmation in the Christian faith, Roland attended the high school department at Northwestern College, Watertown, Wisconsin, from which he graduated in 1938. He continued his academic preparations for the Lutheran ministry in the college department, graduating with the class of 1942. After an additional three years of theological training in the Lutheran Seminary at Thiensville/Mequon, he graduated with the class of 1945.
Then the Lord blessed Roland with the gift of a Christian wife, Lois H. Bauer, and in the process of time the Lord added the gifts of nine children (five girls and four boys). Still in their time of grace are his daughter Lois Jean (Dennis Wendland; 5 ch., 6 grd.); son Paul (Barbara; 4 ch., 10 grd.) son John (Cathy; 6 ch., 8 grd.); daughter Kathleen (Omar Olmanson; 7 ch., 17 grd.); son Daniel (4 ch., 6 grd.); daughter Ruth (Mark Bernthal; 5 ch., 12 grd.); daughter Deborah (John Ude; 9 ch., 8 grd.); daughter Bethany (Perry Dauer; 4 ch., 1 grd.); and son, Pastor Roland H. Gurgel. Other surviving relatives include sister Doris Picha, sister-in-law Doris Bauer, and a large number of nieces, nephews, and extended family.
Roland was preceded in death by his wife, his parents, brothers Karl, Herman, and Ernest, sisters Margaret and Marie, granddaughter Heleen Olmanson, grandson Micah Gurgel, and great-grandson Samuel Ude.
Pastor Gurgel began his life-long tour of service in the public ministry as assistant pastor in La Crosse, Wisconsin; next, to a dual parish in the Rib Lake, Wisconsin area; then to St. John’s, New Ulm, Minn. (where this writer regularly attended); and then to Trinity congregation of Belle Plaine, Minn.
There it was that the Gurgels in obedience to the Word of God left the fellowship that had fallen into error. They moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he and his wife took up secular employment in order to support their family.
In 1962 the Lord of the Church returned Roland to the pastoral ministry to serve Redeemer congregation, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Then in 1964 the Lord called him to show forth His praises on the campus of Immanuel Lutheran High School, College, and Seminary in Eau Claire. His God-given and developed talents as a teacher of the Word inspired many young people during his twenty-two years in the classroom.
During his tenure at ILC, Roland also served as interim pastor at Trinity of Millston (three sessions) and at Messiah of Eau Claire (twice), with numerous Sunday preaching engagements elsewhere in the CLC sprinkling his calendar.
After he retired from ILC in 1986, he and Lois moved to Mankato, Minnesota, taking membership in Salem Lutheran Church of Eagle Lake. During his retirement years Roland served as interim pastor in fourteen different CLC congregations (twice/three times for some).
Roland spent the final year of his earthly pilgrimage in the care of a nursing home in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, from which the Lord took him to his heavenly home on February 6, 2014 at the age of 93 years, three months and twenty-seven days.
Following the February 15 funeral service in Mankato with Pastor Norman Greve officiating, Roland’s earthly remains were committed to the grave in Pilgrim’s Rest Cemetery of Mankato, where they await renewal and reunion with Jesus, who blessed him with Life both here and hereafter.
As we have it in TLH #616:1: — “Forever with the Lord!” Amen! So let it be. Life from the dead is in that word, ‘Tis immortality.