Gordon Paul Radtke was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 10, 1919, God’s gift to Edwin Radtke and his wife Mathilda née Radke. He was baptized on July 13 of the same year.
Gordon’s schooling included six years at Concordia College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; two years at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri; and two years at Wisconsin Seminary in Thiensville, Wisconsin. He graduated in May of 1944. Over the following years he also took courses at Milwaukee State Teachers College and the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
On September 17, 1944 God united Gordon with Claudine Krueger in a Christ-centered marriage, and later blessed them with a son Jonathan and a daughter Johanna. Over the years, the Lord graciously added eight grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren.
The Spirit of God gave Gordon special gifts for working with people and starting programs. His first call was to a mission congregation in Wabasha, Minnesota, where he also opened two preaching posts and began services in nearby Kellogg, Minnesota. Late in 1946, he accepted the call to Red Wing, Minnesota, where he assisted the congregation in opening a school. In 1950, he accepted the call to Belle Plaine, Minnesota, where the existing school was expanded and soul-care was done in the Lutheran Home for the Aged. In 1953, the call to Monroe, Michigan was accepted, a school opened, and outreach efforts undertaken, with help from seminary student Karl Brandle. In 1955 the Radtke family moved to Mankato, Minnesota, where Gordon took up the work of assistant pastor to G.W. Fischer. While he served there, the doctrinal issues within the synod came to a head. In obedience to the Word of God, the congregation and its pastors separated from their former fellowship and over the next few years sought out like-minded Christians, a process which eventually led to the formation of the Church of the Lutheran Confession. In 1959, the Mankato congregation started a high school, college, and seminary, which relocated in 1963 to Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
In the fall of 1966 Pastor Radtke became Professor Radtke when he accepted the call to Immanuel Lutheran College. He taught a variety of classes in all three departments over the next twenty-nine years until his retirement in July of 1995. He was President of ILC from 1982 to 1989 and Dean of the Seminary from 1989 to 1994. Professor Radtke ended his long and dedicated public service in the kingdom by coming out of retirement to serve as pastor of Morning Star Lutheran Church in Fairchild, Wisconsin from 1995 to 2009. While in Eau Claire, Prof. Radtke was a charter member in the Chippewa Valley Symphony and was active in the community. He enjoyed his Tuesday outings with his friends from Messiah congregation’s Coffee Klatsch.
The victory over death obtained by Jesus was given to Claudine, Gordon’s beloved wife of 67 years, on October 18, 2011.
Gordon stayed busy sorting through his accumulated materials and visiting with friends and family about his amazing life living under God’s grace. In the past few years, he had some health issues, nothing very serious, and recently began slowing down. On Thursday, April 6, 2017, the Lord Jesus ended Gordon Radtke’s earthly pilgrimage at ninety-seven years, nine months, and twenty-seven days. His body was cremated and the ashes buried beside the ashes of his wife in Rest Haven Cemetery to await the resurrection of all on the Last Day.
Gordon was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Claudine; two grandchildren, Robert and Heather Radtke; and his sister Marilyn and her husband Roger Hagen. Still in the time of grace are his brother Marvin, son Jonathan (wife Debbie), daughter Johanna Williams, eight grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren.