The Rev. Wilbert Griesse

Saturday, December 14, 2002

PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- The Rev. Wilbert E. Griesse, 85, of Fort Smith, Ark., died Thursday, Dec. 12, 2002, at his home.

He was born May 11, 1917, at Meinert, Mo. He married the former Doris Schamburg.

Griesse was a 1936 graduate of St. Paul's Academy and College at Concordia, Mo., and a 1940 graduate of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.

He served churches in Perryville, North Little Rock, Ark., Farmington, Mo., and in 1959 accepted the call to First Lutheran Church in Fort Smith. He was elected president of the newly founded Mid-South District of Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, and from 1971 to 1983 was chairman of the synod's Council of Presidents.

Griesse received a doctor of divinity degree from Concordia Seminary in 1976. In 1978, he transferred to Memphis, Tenn., and was president of Mid-South District until retiring in 1985. He returned to Fort Smith in 1989.

Survivors include his wife; four sons, Dennis Griesse of Little Rock, Ark., Kurt, David and Dan Griesse, all of Fort Smith; five daughters, Deborah of Little Rock, Sandra of Amarillo, Texas, Beverly of Boulder, Colo., Martha of Memphis, and Susan of London, England.

Also surviving are two brothers, Elmer Griesse of Lacey, Wash., Robert Griesse of Waltham, Mass.; two sisters, Lois Hayer of Bloomer, Wis., Doris Snyder of Kansas City, Mo.; and eight grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by two sons.

Friends may call at Edwards Funeral Home in Fort Smith from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday.

The funeral will be at 1 p.m. Monday at First Lutheran Church in Fort Smith. A private graveside service will be held at Roselawn Cemetery.