Gilbert Ricter - Funeral - 2005

Funeral Service for Gilbert Ricter       


Gilbert's Companions:


            North Dakota                          New Mexico                    Minnesota

1985-2005                             1960-1985                        1949-1960


David Bergh                            Clay Bandy                      Clarence Arquette

Steve Blubaugh                        Ben Benavidez                 Clarence Carlson

Wilfred Goecke                       William Burger                  Ralph Daniels

 Paul Hasskenson                     Charles Campbell             Kenneth Dissmore

Robert Johnson                        Joe Crane                        Vilas Huisheere

 Steve Krack                            George Fournier               James Jardine

Greg Lee                                 Richard Harbur                 Harry Johnson

Kenneth Olson                         Lee Irish

 Ken Pinney                              Harry McKelvey

LeRoy Sandford                       George Peterson

 Paul Severud                            Maurice Peterson

 John Simons                             Jack Poage

 Ray Stevens                             Lecil Sullivan

Jeffrey Vogelzang                      John Sumner


June 4, 2005 10:30 AM – Lakota, ND


Richard Harbur prayed


Richard Harbur (SD) In thinking of today, my thoughts went to some verses in 2 Kings 2:11-15, “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that , behold there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, 'My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.' And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and smote the waters, and said, 'Where is the Lord God of Elijah?' And when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over. And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, 'The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha.'”  In Luke 1, I like the description of that spirit that the angel gave to him. In the 17th verse, “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”  I don’t think it is hard for us to picture today what Elijah meant to the children of Israel. We think back on that story and the different things that had taken place and how he had turned their hearts to the Lord – those 7,000 that had never bowed to Baal, what it would have meant to them, what it would have meant to Elisha. If I understand right, it would have been about 10 years that they would have had together. You would know that Gilbert was never married, but that he was a father, as Paul was to Timothy – a father to some of us in this work, a father in the gospel. He was a father who cared. He gave direction. He guided, and wanted what was best for his children. I was noticing that they talked as they walked. Gilbert loved good food, both naturally and spiritually. We saw him lose his appetite for natural food, but he didn’t lose it for the spiritual. Those nine days I was with him, I don’t know how many times he asked, “Will you please share something form the Word? Tell me something that has fed you.” He often shared what he searched himself. The Word is called a sharp two-edged sword, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart. Gilbert loved that search. He understood what it did for his soul and his relationship with God. Elisha asked a question that day, “Where is the God of Elijah?”  He didn’t ask, “Where is Elijah?”  The 50 sons of the prophets of Jericho wondered if God had cast him on some mountain top or cast him down in some valley. The question Elisha had was, “Where is the God of Elijah?”  You know, my friend, that really is the question for us today, it’s not “Where is Gilbert?” but “Where is the God of Gilbert?”  There wouldn’t have been anything that would have pleased Elijah more than that God’s Spirit was with Elisha. That is what he lived and gave his life for. I’m grateful for those nine days I had with Gilbert. We covered a lot of ground from New Mexico days. He saw a lot of work done there, and a lot of people responded to the gospel. One thing that he made very clear was that “it wasn’t me, it was God.”  “Where is the God of Elijah?”  If you took God out of that story you would have nothing because it was all about God. The time that he called fire down form heaven, he said, “Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God…” (1 Kings 18:37)  It is what God has done, it’s not me. Gilbert talked about coming to North Dakota. He told about some problems he faced and situations that were not pleasant. He mentioned that there wasn’t much he could do, but that it was God that helped him through. His presence can help us today and through the various experiences of life. Jesus paid the price so God could be with us. May this God be with us – the God of all comfort.



Ron Thomke (NE/KS)  In 1958, Gilbert took Jim Jardine on a tour of conventions in the eastern states and they were at my home convention. I was not yet in the work, but I was being moved in that direction. Gilbert made a very strong impression on me at that time. I had the courage to approach Gilbert and have a short conversation with him. He probably never thought about that again, but I’ve never forgotten it. I’ve always looked up to him and appreciated him. One thing that was unique about Gilbert was the way he expressed himself. I don’t think I know one person that said things the way Gilbert did. Anything that he wanted to say, he always had a good way to say it. We’ll miss that. There are lots of things we’ll miss. We’re here today because we want one last touch with his influence. We’ve been touched by one of the giants of our day. 1 Corinthians 3:9, “We are laborers together with God.”  Death is the experience that brings us face to face with our Maker. Death is completely different for those who have spent their life laboring with God. Meeting face to face with God is a continuation of what they’ve been doing through the years. It wasn’t with pride that Paul said, “I labor with God.” He was dealing with a problem in the Corinthian church. They were divided. Some said, “I am of Paul,” and some said, “I am of Apollos.” Paul realized Christ is not divided. “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:6)  It is the Lord. We are like a garden, all in different stages of development. The Lord gives us different messengers to help us with each experience. He also said, “So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:7)  Paul was saying there wouldn’t be any fruit if it weren’t for God. God gives the increase. “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one.” (1 Corinthians 3:8)  Paul was saying Apollos and I are one. We’re not trying to get our own factions or followers, but we are one. We are not competing, but we are one. Our safety is that the focus and attention is on the Lord. May it ever be so that we who labor together with the Lord are one.


Workers sang “The First of My First.”


Jim Price (NM) I count it a privilege to come to North Dakota to be with you. I’m thinking of a lot of good memories, sweet influence, a good testimony, and sound counsel. The last few weeks, thoughts often came of the 25 years Gilbert spent with us in New Mexico. I’ve been reminiscing abut the missions he had, some of the things that he shared with us. All you today have good memories also. We think about the influence of faithful men. It brought to mind that verse in Job 38:31 where Job spoke of the sweet influences of Pleiades. I think Job was thinking about the sweet influences of heaven on the earth that brings forth fruitfulness, that brings forth order, and establishes. We think today of the sweet influences of heaven on our lives. We think of all that God has shared in His Word, in His Son, in the working of His Spirit. We give thanks and are grateful for His work in our lives. I was thinking today of the testimony and influence that we leave. We had a young man on our staff that was known to leave things behind. One day he made very sure that he had everything and double checked. When he got in the car, his companion told him that he had left something behind. He said, “No, I’ve checked and I have everything.” He said, “No, you left your influence.” Our testimony is one thing we take with us into eternity, and is the one thing that we leave behind. We want to leave a good testimony and more so we want to take a good testimony. Sometimes we give a testimony of ourselves. Often times it is slanted one way or the other, but our own testimony doesn’t have a lot of weight. It is wonderful when others can give a good testimony of our lives. It was said of David, that he was a prince among them. In Daniel’s day, they could say that there was a man amongst them that was a dissolver of doubts and that he had an excellent spirit. The testimony that matters is the testimony that God will be able to give of us. He said of Abraham that he was His friend. He said of David that he was a man after His own heart. He said of Job that he was a patient man. Those are testimonies that have stood over the years. What we say today doesn’t add or take away from Gilbert’s testimony. I appreciate the sound counsel Gilbert gave to us when we were younger. When Gilbert came to New Mexico, I was still in high school. He was there when I professed, when I was baptized, when I offered for the work, and was there when I started in the work, although I started in another state. I remember one of several times he stopped by and gave counsel. I think he knew what was on my heart. The Lord already knew what He wanted for my life, but I was fighting against that. Gilbert said to me, “The choices you’re making, where will they bring you in your relationship with God 10 years from now? 20 years from now? 30 years from now?”  That helped me think more seriously. I thought about counsel from God. We read in 1 Samuel 25 when Abigail came to David. She gave some counsel to David that day that was totally opposite from what David had in mind, and totally opposite in what he was justified to do. When Gilbert came to me that day, I had some plans in mind for my life, and felt justified doing what I planned to do. Gilbert’s counsel came from God and caused me to lift my eyes. It moves us to give thanks to God. When David realized that the counsel was from God, he said, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me; And blessed by thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.” (1 Samuel 25:32-33)  We’re thankful today when we recognize the counsel given to us is from God. We heard last week at Hector (MN) from John 17. It was mentioned that in that chapter we get a little look into the heart of Jesus and into the mind of Jesus in the final hours of His life. We can see some of the things that He was thinking about, and what He was concerned about. Looking back at that prayer, it has helped me realize His sense of urgency. He told His disciples a little about what God had given Him, what He was thankful for, what He was concerned about, and that the joy in Him would remain in them. I was with Gilbert in the hospital and appreciated that his concern was still for the kingdom at that hour. I remember when an older saint in our state died; Gilbert said he went to an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11, “'For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,' saith the Lord, 'Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.'” That can be our portion, too. When we come to the end of life it is not a surprise, but it is an expected end. We read about a rich man in Luke 16. When he came to the end of life it was the end of all that he had lived for. Death can be the end of what we have lived for, or else the fulfillment. I’m thankful for Gilbert’s life, his sound counsel, the memories, for his good testimony, and sweet influence amongst us. I am thankful for the grace of God made evident in the fruitfulness here. May our time together encourage us to glorify the One who’s called us and to lift one another’s hands so that the kingdom can be stronger.


Dale Spencer (ND) Since Gilbert’s passing, my thoughts turned to the record that we have of Jonathan and David. While we aren’t here to glorify Gilbert, this is his memorial. We are all going to miss Gilbert. We will not forget him. He was my best friend, the best friend that I ever had. The relationship between Jonathan and David was very special. David was a great man in the sight of God. Jonathan was a little man like many of us. Gilbert was a David to many of us. We appreciate him; we remember him and the influence he brought amongst us. There are four verses concerning Jonathan and David’s relationship and the love they had one for another. In 1 Samuel 18:1, “And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”  There was a love between them, and I feel that has been my experience with Gilbert. Gilbert had a wonderful relationship with his family, and he had a wonderful relationship with many of us in this work. The thing that I remember most was his relationship with the Lord. Gilbert and I went in the work in the late 1940s. I didn’t know Gilbert and he didn’t know me. We worked as neighbors. I knew Gilbert after he came to New Mexico. He was in the northern part of New Mexico and I was in the southern part of Colorado. We often met. He would come to Trinidad (CO) over on our side and we would go down to Raton (NM) over on his side. He would come and help us with our babes. We loved each other’s company and we continued to have fellowship. It wasn’t long before I was moved to Texas in the panhandle area and Gilbert was just across the line, and we would meet together again, sometimes in Amarillo (TX) and sometimes in Tucumcari (NM), and have sweet fellowship. Our souls were knit together in the Lord and it was the Lord’s counsel that made our relationship so sweet, and we appreciate that. 1 Samuel 19:1, “And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David.” King Saul said to his servants, his army, and to his son Jonathan that we must kill David. Saul knew that David was the anointed king of Israel and that his son Jonathan would be left out. Jonathan knew that it was thus, but his soul was knit to David’s. His fathers’ attitude had no effect on his relationship with David. Jonathan and David went on together, they loved one another, and Jonathan did all that he could to promote David. Jonathan asked his father, “Why do you want to kill David? He has always been a faithful servant to the Lord and to the king.”  1 Samuel 23:16, “And Jonathan, Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.”  This mysterious fellowship is a question to many. We doubled the population of this town today. The locals will say, “Who was this man? We’ve never heard of him.”  It’s a great mystery to them. They’ll not understand, but we know who this man was. It was like Jonathan going out into the woods to find David. Saul couldn’t find him, but Jonathan knew. Jonathan went to David and strengthened his hand in the Lord. I can’t tell you how many times Gilbert has come and strengthened my hands. It was 10 years ago now that the phone rang and a voice said, “This is Gilbert from North Dakota. Will you be willing to come to North Dakota and help us?”  I was very happy in Iowa, and had only been there 4 years. I wasn’t anxious to leave Iowa and North Dakota was a place………just about at the end of the world. I said, “If you brothers will arrange for me to come to North Dakota, I’d be happy to come.”  Gilbert said, “We want you.”  These have been good years and our souls have been knit together. 2 Samuel 1:25-26, When David heard of Jonathan’s death, he said, “How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.”  The strongest love in this world is a love between a husband and wife. That is only human and for this world. There is a greater love, and that is love between brethren whose souls are knit together. When I heard that Gilbert was gone, I said to one of the younger brothers, “I just don’t see how we can face the future. I don’t see how we can go on, I don’t.”  But that young brother was a great comfort to me. He said, “This is the Lord’s work and this is the Lord’s kingdom. He’ll raise up an overseer, and we can go on.”  That comforted me. I thought we had come to the end. I didn’t see how we could go on, but the Lord is on the throne, He has always been faithful to His children and His kingdom. We know that God will raise up laborers to go forth and sow the gospel seed. A mighty man has fallen amongst us. Though we miss him, we’re going on. May our souls be knit together in the Lord, like David and Jonathan.


Workers sang hymn 403, “Impelled by Love.”



Graveside Service June 4, 2005– Lakota, ND Cemetery


Workers sang hymn 412, “When Life is Ended.”


Joe Hobbs (SD) We think of this event today and the death of our brother, Gilbert, and approaching something greater in might, in eternity. Two verses that have been special to me came to mind, helping us in this matter of understanding the life of one who has given himself in this work of God, one who has heard the call of the gospel. In Acts 20:24, Paul who was speaking to those at Miletus, also the elders of Ephesus, he could talk about events prophesied earlier, and then he says, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”  The other verse is 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  One of the thoughts from the first verse I read to you reflects the attitude and spirit of one who gave himself in this work of God, and the purpose which he recognized as his and found himself pursuing through the experiences of life. I believe that every true servant of God would have this manner of thought for himself. He said, “I don’t count my life dear to myself,” and then he said, “That I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”  Paul was looking to the end of the matter and was seeing a satisfying result of a life spent according to the work of God to bring to others a dying life by a living ministry and to present a ministry that was reflecting the life of God, a ministry in whom God could work. As our brother dealt and moved amongst others, he sought to help those that would listen to the message and that God by His Spirit could call to Himself and that his finish would be in the will of God so this in which he was bringing to others would reflect the power of life.  The other verse from 1 Corinthians 15 would reflect his thought toward others, and what others would have and experience as a result of accepting the gospel and seeing the purpose of life, and reflecting it as a testimony of hope and the power that would change lives of those who would respond to the work of the Spirit. This message, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” and I felt this would be the testimony Gilbert would like to leave with us today. The message of investing our lives in that which God has called us to, and that in this, we can have the hope that God is ours by the Gospel. We sense the urgency of life and its brevity, and recognize it as a time of investing in what will give us hope beyond. May that strengthen our faith to live beyond ourselves and to believe in this hope and to trust in His leading.


Joe Hobbs closed in prayer.  



An Account of Gilbert’s Last Days  


During Gilbert’s annual physical the end of December, 2004, a lump was found in his abdomen. He had a biopsy in late December, and learned in early January that he had lymphoma. His diagnosis of Burkitt’s lymphoma came on March 4. The doctor asked him to come in that day, but Gilbert wanted to have one more meeting before going in to begin treatment. He entered the hospital on Monday, March 7. On Tuesday, March 8, he had his first chemo. Complications necessitated surgery on Wednesday, March 9. Gilbert had three chemo treatments, three weeks apart. From the time Gilbert first went in to the hospital until his death, he was either in the hospital or in an apartment that is a block from the Altru Hospital, Grand Forks. During the three months of his illness, he was cared for by his sister, Linda, and husband, Arlyn; nephew Dean Ricter and wife Jeanette; nephew Darren Schulz; niece Molly Schulz; workers, Richard Harbur, David Bergh, Paul Haakenson, Jeffrey Vogelzang and John Simons: and friends, Arnold Overland and Mark Richtsmeier. All through his illness, Gilbert was still pouring out his life for others; reaching out with a phone call, dropping a nugget here and there. He had two goals during his treatment. One was to come to the workers meeting at Hope, ND, April 25. The other was to come to the workers meeting at Hector, MN, May 24-26. He was able for the meeting at Hope, and poured out to us in a way that we will not forget. He declined steadily from that point, and was not able to make it to the meeting at Hector. Gilbert asked for all the ND staff to come to see him, and that was accomplished by Saturday, May 28.



Sunday afternoon, May 29, 2005


Gilbert and his family asked that all medical assistance be removed. He quietly entered into eternity a little over an hour later. Gilbert E. Ricter, age 78, resident of Hunter, ND, died Sunday, May 29, 2005 at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, ND. Gilbert Eugene Ricter was born August 11, 1926 at Chicago, IL, the son of Terry and Signe (Johnson) Ricter. In 1949, Gilbert left his logging business to give his life for the work of the gospel. His ministry included eleven years in Minnesota, twenty-five years in New Mexico and twenty years in North Dakota. Gilbert is survived by 2 brothers, Conrad Ricter and Louis (Faye) Ricter; 1 sister, Linda (Arlyn) Schultz; 1 brother-in-law, Tom Schroeder; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; 1 brother, Edward Ricter; 1 sister, Geraldine Schroeder; and 1 nephew, Jon Ricter. Gilbert's Funeral Service will be held at the Lakota Community Center of Lakota, ND, on Saturday, June 4, 2005 at 10:30 AM. Officiating will be Dale Spencer, Richard Harbur, and Jim Price. The pianist will be Diane Larson, and the choir will consist of Gilbert's co-workers. Interment will be at the Lakota Cemetery. Officiating at the committal service will be Joe Hobbs. Casketbearers will be Wilfred Goecke, Ken Pinney, David Bergh, Jeffrey Vogelzang, Paul Haakenson and John Simons. Honorary bearers will include all of Gilbert's family and friends. Visitation will be held at Aaker Funeral Home of Lakota, ND, on Friday, June 3, 2005 from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM, and will continue at the Lakota Community Center on Saturday, from 9:30 AM until the time of service.