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Rev. Becker has had a full life in 90 years

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Fayette Faces

By Panzi Blackwell

When one walks into the Rev. Lawrence Becker’s apartment at Brookstone Estates, a unique and pretty scene greets them in the form of a painting on the wall.

The painting was inspired by a photograph that the reverend himself had taken high in the Alps in Switzerland, in the area of his grandmother’s home.
He told of traveling a crooked road high into the mountains to visit the site.
He shared that there were alternate roads to drive on that were narrow and steep, with narrow, hair-pin curves. Once, a car came by them and hit the side rear-view mirror, and he had to get out on the narrow road and straighten it. His wife commented that she may as well be flying in an airplane because from her side of the car, she could see no land. So he opted for the simple, albeit crooked, path.
In his 89 years, he has traveled a lot, much of it, probably, as a soldier in the U.S. Army in World War II. He has sawed the logs to build a house, and answered the calling to be a minister. Rev. Becker will be 90 years old on Nov. 13.
Meet the Reverend Lawrence Becker
Rev. Becker was wearing a vest that has on it his grandchildren’s names, and seemed very comfortable in his living room, which held his own furniture, including his easy chair, beautifully constructed large desk and several photographs of his family on the walls. He is a member of First United Methodist Church in Vandalia, and has “filled in a time or two,” he said.
A Methodist preacher, he retired while living in Bethalto. “We came here (Vandalia),” he said, “because we thought the people here were very friendly, I like a good choir and I like a good pipe organ.”
Inspiration to Enter
the Ministry
“When I was in the service, I made a vow that if it was at all possible, I would read my Bible during the day sometime, and I would kneel down by my bunk and have prayer,” he said.
“It wasn’t uncommon for somebody to come by and flip me while I was kneeling or throw a shoe at me.
“But the thing that happened was, it wasn’t but two or three  weeks after getting a new outfit that someone would come up to me and say, ‘How about going into town with me this evening ?’  I’d say, ‘Why do you want me to go into town with you?’
“The individual would say, ‘Because if you go into town with us, I won’t get drunk and I won’t get into trouble.’ So I got a lot of suppers because they wanted me to go into town with them,” he said.
“In the end, they respected me. I really felt like I was called into the ministry then.
“I trained as an instrument and survey man. I surveyed for the big guns, cannons, then the war ended. In Japan, we searched the temples and shrines, everywhere, and picked up any guns and ammunition (that had been hidden).
“We weren’t there but a few weeks , but you could go anywhere you wanted to, without a gun, and be safe,” he said.
Back Home and Getting Married
“I came back home from the war, and was dating Ila, my first wife. I felt like I should go back into the service as a chaplain, but I wanted to get married, too, so we got married.
I went to work with dad on the farm. Ila and I, the two of us, cut logs on the farm, took them to a sawmill to be sawed and we built a house,” he said.
“I think there was a $12 labor bill on the house. I hired a guy to help me build the flue and that’s all they paid labor.”
He did his own electrical work and plumbing.  “I lived out in the country, about 6½  miles southeast of Fillmore,” he said.
After a while, he felt the calling again, so he and Ila kneeled at the side of the bed and made their commitment.  He said that he was out of high school nine years when he started to go to college for the ministry..
“I went to Greenville College and seminary in Indianapolis.”
Valleys and Hilltops
Ila succumbed to melanoma cancer after 20 years of marriage, leaving a deep void in the reverend’s life.
He later met Virginia, who had lost her husband to melanoma, and the similar deaths of their mates to melanoma drew them together. He and Virginia were married for 42 years when she died suddenly in a hospital following biopsies of the lungs because she was having trouble breathing.
Rev. Becker said that he had three girls, and she had four girls and a boy when they married, and they vowed they would not be “my children and your children, but our children”.
He said that Virginia was very active in the church. “I was blessed with two wonderful wives,” he said.  
He has lived at Brookstone Estates in Vandalia since March 2012, after her death.
Summing Up
He rides the bus and attends the First United Methodist Church of Vandalia regularly.
“I always attended the Methodist Church (since childhood), but I surrendered in a Baptist revival, and I went to Free Methodist College and Disciples of Christ Seminary, so that ought to make me ecumenical,” he said, chuckling.
“I have no idea how many times I could easily have been killed and God spared my life,” he said.
He described a terrifying accident in which he was thrown toward and between the two belts of a sawmill; at the last instant, he grabbed a stake that had been driven in the ground at the pulley, saving his life. He didn’t have a scratch or bruise.
He figures God spared his life many times, because He still had work for him to do.