September 4, 1926 – October 28, 2011

ROBERT SHELDON DUECKER of Fort Wayne, Ind., 85, a Bishop of The United Methodist Church, died on October 28, 2011, at Fort Wayne. He was an eight-year cancer survivor.

He was born in Lafayette Township, Medina County, Ohio, on September 4, 1926, to Howard LaVerne and Sarah Faye Simpson Duecker. He was confirmed in the LeRoy Methodist Episcopal Church and is a 1944 graduate of Westfield High School in Westfield, Ohio.

R. Sheldon Duecker and Marjorie Louise Clouse were united in marriage on June 13, 1948, and celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary this year.

Duecker held degrees from Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion (B. Rel. and A.B., 1948); and Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis (B.D. and M.S., 1952). He did additional work at Garrett-Evangelical Seminary in Evanston. He attended special sessions in Boston University and in Mansfield College and Oxford University, both in England. He held honorary degrees from Christian Theological Seminary and Kendall College in Evanston, Ill.

Duecker was ordained an Elder in the former North Indiana Conference by Bishop Richard C. Raines in 1953. He served as an associate pastor of Kokomo Grace and as pastor at Dyer, Muncie-Gethsemane, Hartford City, Warsaw-First, Fort Wayne-Simpson and Muncie-High Street churches. He also served as North Indiana Conference Council Director from 1973 to 1977 and as Fort Wayne District Superintendent from 1977 to 1982.

Duecker served on the Board of Directors of Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne, from 1977 to 1982, while District Superintendent of the Fort Wayne District of the former North Indiana Conference.

He was author of several articles and of one book, Tensions in the Connection, published by Abingdon Press in 1983.

He was a member of the General Council on Ministries and chaired the Unit on Evaluation and Coordination. He served as secretary of the General Advance Committee, was a member of the Committee on Africa Church Growth and Development and the Commission to Study the Mission of the Church.

He was named “Sagamore of the Wabash” by Indiana Governor Robert Orr in September 1988.

Duecker was elected a Bishop in 1988 by the North Central Jurisdiction and was assigned to the Chicago Area. While an active Bishop, he served the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, The General Board of Publication and the University Senate. He chaired the Council of Bishops committee to develop materials for the church-wide study of the denomination’s Theological Statement, as well as the Mission Statement of The United Methodist Church adopted in 1988. He was president of the Council of Religious Leaders of Greater Chicago and president of the North Central College of Bishops.

He was a trustee of the University of Evansville, North Central College and Kendall College. He also served as trustee of Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill.

Following retirement in 1996 as Bishop of the Chicago Area, he served as Bishop in Residence of First Wayne Street United Methodist Church in Fort Wayne, contributing in innumerable ways to the life of the church. He also served as Volunteer Consultant to the Development Office of Africa University, where a residence hall was dedicated in his honor. He has served on the Board of Directors of Erin’s House in Fort Wayne. At the time of his death, he was serving as Honorary Chairperson of Indiana Conference Camps and Conference Capital Fund Campaign. The first new lodge in a generation built at Epworth Forest Conference Center in North Webster, Ind., was named Duecker Lodge and dedicated on June 4, 2011, in honor of Duecker and his wife Marjorie.