Remembering Lakeland icon Rev. David Lauer
David Lauer, known best as Rev. Lauer to a generation of Lakeland students that he taught and mentored, died on September 2. He was 81.
For 38 years, David and his wife, Lynne, were role models at Lakeland. They mentored and counseled hundreds of students, creating memories, countless friends and the legacy of having positively impacted many students. In their roles as faculty, chaplain and coach, the Lauers made Lakeland “home” to many.
A service of thanksgiving will take place at David’s home congregation, Immanuel United Church of Christ in Plymouth, Wis., on Saturday, September 23, at 1 p.m.
A complete obituary can be found here.
A special tribute to Rev. Lauer will occur on September 30 at 11:15 a.m. in the Lauer Center located in the Campus Center as part of Homecoming weekend.
In 2018, Lakeland dedicated the Lauer Center for Student Success & Development, located in the heart of Lakeland’s Younger Family Campus Center, to David and Lynne. The Lauer Center houses staff members who work directly in support of students and provides an additional, smaller space for students to gather throughout the day. Lakeland celebrated the opening of the new campus center during 2018 Homecoming weekend, including a special reunion and tribute with the Lauer family.
The Lauer Center is a “one-stop shop” for students needing life, career, school and personal advice. The Lauers’ story is part of the space so students for years to come understand their impact on Lakeland.
At the time of his retirement, Lauer, who was named an Honorary Alumni Award winner in 2006, was campus minister and Marjorie and Richard Leach Professor of Christian Theology and Ethics. He was named Faculty Emeritus, the highest honor for a faculty member.
He served as Lakeland men’s tennis coach from 1969-1993, and his teams won conference championships in 1970, 1971 and 1975. He was inducted in the Lakeland Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993.
The Lauers came to Lakeland in the summer of 1968 after a call from then-President John Morland, who was searching for a campus minister. They initially planned to stay for a year and try it out. By the time they retired in 2006, only eight employees had worked at Lakeland longer than David Lauer.
They lived for 14 years in a home on County Highway M and were a fixture on Lakeland’s fabled Prof Row until 1999 when they moved to nearby Elkhart Lake.
“The first day I stepped out on the porch, it was an August morning and it was 85 degrees and sunny and I said ‘This is great,’” Lauer recalled in 2006. “I suppose I should have realized we would stay awhile. I just fell in love with being here right away. I didn’t know that was going to happen, but it happened.
“When we came here, the people here before me made sure we knew what was good about this place and the history. They passed a lot of that on. I hope that we’ve done that. I always thought there was goodness to this place and if we did the right things we would probably grow into a college that no one had imagined yet.”
The Ley Chapel was completed in 1971, and Lauer started Sunday services that ran through the mid-1980s. Those early years were an especially vibrant time as students brought the sounds of jazz to the services, and in order to get a seat you needed to get there early.
The Lauers hit the road in the summer to help with recruiting when enrollments were sagging. They were among the faculty that fixed a meal for incoming freshmen before a spirited softball game. It was nothing for the Lauers to have 15 freshmen in their home for dinner. And many of those students turned into babysitters for their three children, Jonathan, Ethan and Elizabeth.
Memorial gifts in tribute to Rev. Lauer may be given to Lakeland University to directly support the endowed David and Lynne Lauer Fund for Campus Ministry. These funds directly underwrite the university’s annual Mission House and Founders’ Day lectures, events that were inspired and enhanced by the Lauers.
Gifts may be made online by clicking here; or by calling the Advancement Office at 920-565-1000 ext.2161!