Rev. Walter George Laughlin, 93, of Tulsa, Oklahoma passed away with family by his side on January 7, 2023, at Trinity Woods Retirement Community. He was born to George and Elsa (Kuehn) Laughlin on Nov 4, 1929 in Osage, Iowa. He was baptized into the Christian faith by the Rev. T. P. Solem on December 8, 1929 and confirmed by Rev. Solem on May 28, 1944.
Rev. Laughlin graduated from Osage High School in 1948 before enrolling at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. After working for his dad’s plumbing business for a year, he enrolled at Luther College in Decorah, IA before enlisting in the US Navy. He served from 1950-1954 aboard the USS Oriskany and began to actively consider a future in ministry while serving as assistant to the ship’s chaplain. After his discharge from the Navy he resumed his studies at Luther and graduated in 1957 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classics. In 1957, he entered Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, MN and earned his Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1961. He served his internship at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Virginia MN. He was ordained into the Holy Ministry of the American Lutheran Church (ALC) in 1961 in Osage. He also obtained a certificate of Clinical Pastoral Education and training in multiple areas of Specialized Pastoral Care.
His first call was at Immanuel Lutheran Church in rural Cushing OK from 1961-1965. Walter heard of Helen Fischer through their work in the ALC Parish Education Committee and met on a blind date. After a long distance courtship he was married to the love of his life Helen A. Fischer in Lohman MO on April 11, 1964. Walter served as Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Oklahoma City, OK (1965-1968); Our Saviours Lutheran Church, Dannebrog NE (1968-1975); Concordia Lutheran Church, Concordia KS (1975-1983). He then served as a chaplain at Mercy Hospital Medical Center in Des Moines Iowa (1983-1985). His ministry continued at United Lutheran Church, Hampton NE (1985-1989) and St Paul Lutheran, Byron (1989-1994) and Hardy (1991-1994) NE until his retirement from the ELCA on November 13, 1994. He served as a supply Pastor for St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Valley Falls, KS (1997-2001) as well as New Hope Lutheran, Onaga, KS, St. Paul’s Lutheran, Palmer KS and Trinity Lutheran in Topeka KS.
He and Helen moved to Topeka, KS where they purchased their first home and became active members of Trinity Lutheran Church. While in his retirement he continued to enjoy walks with Helen, biking, photography, gardening, tennis, camping, fixing things, fishing, traveling, involvement in interdenominational ministry programs/associations and serving in the community. Over his life, ministry and retirement Walter and often Helen welcomed refugees into their home, provided pastoral care to those who were homebound/hospitalized, volunteered in neighborhood school, served on the Topeka Lutheran Fine Arts Council, Habitat for Humanity, Doorstep/Topeka Rescue Mission, participated in community choirs, mentored new pastors, served on board of directors & trained others in hospice, and started a community garden in Topeka recently named after Walter & Helen. His mission in ministry revolved around building up others, discovering ways to develop relationships and encouraging people he met. He shared this passion for service with his children and grandchildren. Walter and Helen moved to Tulsa, OK in 2020.
Walter is survived by children Stephanie (Michael) Mueller of Tulsa, OK, John Laughlin (Dr. Julie Suhr) of The Plains, OH, Michele (Bob) Peck of Waterloo IA; six grandchildren: Elsa Mueller (Anthony Filipas), Greta Mueller, Dr. Alane Suhr (Austin Alexander), Meredith Suhr, Alison Peck, Ryan Peck; siblings Alvin (Carol) Laughlin of Sarasota FL, James (Helen) Laughlin of Littleton CO, Lenore Olson of Topeka KS and Alice Laughlin of Ridgeland SC; and sixteen nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Helen (Fischer) Laughlin, sister and brother-in-law Ruth and John Stout, brother-in-law Bill Olson, and nephew Iago Laughlin.
Visitation will be 11 am – 12 pm Friday, January 13, 2023 at Trinity Lutheran Church, Topeka with Facebook live streamed funeral service (@topekatlc) at 12 noon, officiated by Pastor Andrew Patty. Burial service will be at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Lohman, MO at 12 noon Saturday, January 14, 2023 officiated by Pastor David Viles.
In lieu of flowers his family invites memorials to Trinity Lutheran Church, 725 SW Buchanan St, Topeka, KS 66606 or Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), P.O. Box 17467, Baltimore, MD 21297 - https://www.lirs.org/more-ways-to-give/ or Oaks Indian Mission, 155 North Military Road, Oaks, OK 74359 - https://www.oaksindianmission.org/.
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