It hath pleased Almighty God in His all-wise providence (Romans 11:33-36) and according to His gracious promises in Christ Jesus (John 11:25-26; 14:2-3) to call out of this vale of tears to Himself in heaven the soul of Waltraut Natterer, the beloved wife of Pastor-Emeritus Melvin L. Natterer. Mrs. Natterer died peacefully in her sleep on Wednesday, November 12, 2014, at her home in Lebanon, Oregon, at the age of 87 years.
Mrs. Natterer was born Waltraut Elisabeth Koenig in Konigsberg, Germany, on September 16, 1927, to Emil and Louise Koenig. Her brother, Lothar, preceded her in death. Already as an infant, Waltraut was received into the kingdom of God’s grace in Holy Baptism and was brought up by her parents in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. When she was three years old, the family moved to the United States, settling initially in Michigan and then making their home in Chicago, Illinois. There, as a youth, she was instructed in the chief parts of Christian doctrine and was received by the rite of confirmation into the communicant membership of Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod).
Waltraut graduated from high school in Chicago and, on June 11, 1949, at the same church in which she had grown up, she was united in holy marriage with the Rev. Melvin Louis Natterer, who had served his vicarage there in her home congregation. Having just graduated from Concordia Theological Seminary (Missouri Synod) in Springfield, Illinois, Pastor Natterer briefly served a congregation in Fessenden, North Dakota, and then accepted a call to Trinity Ev. Lutheran Church in Lansing, Illinois, where he served until the fall of 1951. By then the Natterer family included two little daughters, Linda and Mira. It was in Lansing that the young pastor, who had marked the Missouri Synod as a heterodox church body, was persecuted by the officials of the synod’s Northern Illinois District because he refused to join it. Instead, in September, 1951, he and other brother pastors became founding members of the Orthodox Lutheran Conference, the parent body of our present Conference, even though they knew that they and their families would pay a heavy price for their faithfulness to the Word of God and for their obedience to its clear injunction in Romans 16:17. On the evening of Reformation Day, October 31, 1951, synodical officials invaded Trinity Ev. Lutheran Church in Lansing, falsely accused its pastor of “unfaithfulness,” and had him thrown out of the office into which the Holy Ghost had placed him (Acts 20:28). Temporarily without a call and out of a job, Pastor Natterer had to seek secular work to support his family; and his dear Wally quickly learned, by God’s grace and with His neverfailing help, how to endure trials and tribulations that few young wives ever experience and that none truly anticipate. The Natterers and their two toddling daughters were for a brief time members of Peace Ev. Lutheran Church in Tinley Park, Illinois (now Oak Forest, Illinois), where he served as secretary of the congregation. Then in May of 1952, Pastor Natterer accepted a call to St. John’s in Lebanon, where he spent the next sixty-one years as its shepherd, retiring in 2013. By God’s grace, Mrs. Natterer remained constant and faithful to His Word, a loving pillar of strength to her husband, and an example of Christian piety both to her family and to the congregation. Pastor and Mrs. Natterer, together with their growing family, became established Oregonians; and all the children still live in Lebanon or relatively nearby.
Mrs. Natterer was not only, by God’s grace, a loving and faithful wife to her husband and a caring and nurturing mother to their ten children; but she was, in every sense of the word, her husband’s best friend. She was not only his helpmeet according to God’s ordinance and his devoted and loving companion in their sixty-five year marriage together; but she was his “pal,” and he was hers; and they shared the joy of their Savior’s gracious presence together in “the unity of the Spirit” and in “the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3) in a truly blessed Christian home, cherishing God’s precious Word as their daily comfort and strength, “lamp and light” (Psalm 119:105). Their blessed unity remains unbroken today yet as Mrs. Natterer now has it in “fulness of joy” (Psalm 16:11), safe in the mansions of heaven, and as Pastor Natterer has it in the inerrant truth of the Scriptures and in the fellowship of those who “all speak the same thing” (I Corinthians 1:10) according to the “oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11).
Mrs. Natterer will be sorely missed by her dear husband and family, but also as a dear sister in the faith by the members of St. John’s in Lebanon and the brethren of the Concordia Lutheran Conference.
She is survived by her devoted husband, Mel, by their ten grown children, by numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren, and by many friends and Christian brethren in their congregation and in our precious fellowship.
Her mortal remains were committed to the ground following a Christian funeral service at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Lebanon, where Pastor Paul E. Bloedel officiated and preached the sermon based on John 3:16. Her body now awaits the resurrection of the flesh on the Last Day, while her soul “from henceforth” experiences fullness of joy everlasting with her Savior and all the “blessed dead” who by faith in Him have laid hold on eternal life and rest in peace (Revelation 14:13).
May we remember Pastor Natterer in our fervent prayers, that his aching heart be healed and his void of loneliness be filled with the comfort and assurance of the Gospel of our Savior to all true believers, that “whether we live or die …we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8) and that our inheritance of grace, “incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away” is reserved even now in heaven for all those who are kept by the power of God, the power of His precious Gospel, through faith unto salvation (I Peter 1:4-5). Let us also “comfort one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:18).
Soli Deo gloria!