10.30.2022 Martin Luther Service Awards | Immanuel Lutheran Church

November 11, 2022 Immanuel Lutheran Church

10.30.2022 Martin Luther Service Awards

Congratulations to Dick & Sue Wauer, this year’s Martin Luther Servant of Christ Award winners!

Dick Wauer was born in Chicago December 1942. He was the middle of 3 boys and forever tagging along after his older brother: earning him the nickname “Little Hamper”. He gravitated towards sports early on, especially baseball. His 1957, his Pony League team earned 2nd place at the league’s World Series. Dick played football, basketball, and baseball in high school; and earned MVP in both baseball and basketball his senior year at Proviso East. While dating a girl in high school; he was confirmed at Grace Lutheran Church in Elmwood Park. The girlfriend didn’t last, but the Lutheran part did! After high school, Dick enrolled in the University of Detroit on a basketball scholarship, but soon learned that his high school skills weren’t enough when competing against the likes of Dave DeBusschere who went on to play for the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks. He left college after 1 year and joined the US Army, where he was sent was sent to Germany. Being privileged to travel while living abroad planted a lifelong love of travel. After the service, Dick returned to International Harvester in their Downtown office.

Sue Kolb was born in December 1948. On Christmas Day that year, she was baptized in a crystal punch bowl in her dining room. She was confirmed in 1962 at Grace Lutheran Church, in River Forest, IL. Upon graduation from Oak Park High School in 1966 she attended the University of Illinois. Sue started her career at International Harvester – Corporate Headquarters.

A life changing event occurred the day of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. The West side of Chicago was ablaze and rioting along the Lake Street “L”. It was not safe to be out. Sue’s boss paired her up with a tall, good-looking colleague from another department. He rode with her through the chaos and delivered her safely to her home in River Forest. Eleven months later, on February 23,1969, Sue stood in front of Grace Lutheran Church-River Forest confessing her faith and love as she married Richard Wauer.

From here their journey picks up speed. March 2, 1970, brought the birth of their son, Jeffrey. Kathryn followed 2 years later. Laura was born 7 years after Kathryn. Raising the first two children in Oak Park created all the usual young family challenges. Sue was very active in the community, including putting a large block party together. (I wonder if this was the beginning of the food “pusher” nickname?) Church (Grace -River Forest & St. Paul Melrose Park) and family were always the most important things for Sue. Dick was building his career. Late Spring in 1975 a job transfer moved the family across the Atlantic to Brussels Belgium, where the native languages are French & Flemish. The day they moved in, Dick left on business, and for the next three and a half years, he traveled almost weekly. Sue managed the household and survived on her humor, tenacity, and persistence. She made many friends in the international community, being active in Women’s Club, British School, International School and little league. While overseas, Sue took the opportunity to travel-she visited eastern Europe and Russia and made a culinary trip to a Parisian cooking school. Sue also learned the secrets of Chinese cooking, and the goodies coming out of the Wok are still amazing.

In November 1978, the Wauers relocated to Lisle, IL. Laura was born in Hinsdale, IL  in 1979. During a brief trip back to Brussels, they learned that they were moving to Raleigh, NC. Southern hospitality didn’t live up to expectations, but Our Savior Lutheran Church was a great comfort. They attended adult bible study and Sue helped with confirmation classes at the church. This, along with being very active in the local swim club, made the 4-1/2 years go by quickly.

They returned to Lisle, IL again, and Sue was able to jump right back into the many committees at Trinity Lutheran, where they made many lifelong friendships. Eighteen months later they moved to Racine, WI. They enjoyed the great O&H Kringle, but it was a challenge to integrate with the community. They were then transferred to London, UK, so they thought. The day Sue arrived for house hunting, the assignment was changed to Paris, France. Sue learned the underground, the culture, and more French language. The pressure was great on Kathryn as she was entering her high school senior year; so, Dick and Sue decided to let her remain stateside. The American Women’s club and several trips to London helped the family get through this time apart.

The family returned to the states and lived in Naperville for a year before moving to Batavia, where they discovered Immanuel Lutheran Church and School. For 30 years, Dick and Sue hosted over 100 minor league baseball players in their home, and they are still in contact with many, including some major leaguers. Immanuel has meant very much to the Wauers: Kathy and Laura were married here.

Dick has blessed many while volunteering in different capacities at Immanuel such as Hart to Heart, the Batavia food pantry, the Board of Elders, and Feed My Starving Children. He serves regularly as a reader, usher, and worship assistant. Dick has also been chairman of the Spiritual Guidance Committee. Dick was asked by Pastor Kennaugh to serve as Immanuel’s first business manager in 2016, and he used his business skills to review many of the contractual agreements, restructure the budgeting process, and organize facility maintenance. However, the greatest impact Dick has had at Immanuel was when he put his arm around the shoulders of young men to support and encourage them as husbands and fathers. Several members of today’s Spiritual Guidance Committee attribute their growth in that role to Dick’s care and instruction.

Sue can always be found serving at Immanuel. She has led quilting and cooking lessons, been on the Altar Guild, served on a pastoral call committee, and invented Advent Teas. She is always ready to plan and help with events. During COVID she initiated a weekly teacher appreciation gathering for ILS that helped encourage the staff. Sue is the ultimate party planner, a gifted encourager, and a blessing to everyone she shares her smile with.