Thursday, April 26, 2007

GERALD VOLM 1917-2007


Many of you reading this blog have probably never heard of Gerald Volm, although he is the founder of one of the 75 largest private corporations in Wisconsin. The company, now called Volm Companies, Inc., started out about 50 years ago in Antigo as a business providing bags to potato growers. It has expanded far beyond this, and now encompasses a variety of products including erosion fencing and windscreening for pro golfers. Still, the bag is still at the heart of the company's work.

But Gerald is important to me as more than a successful businessman. For although he was the patriarch of a locally-owned international corporation that now brings in upwards of $75 million and employs at least 300, this humble man who came of age in the Great Depression, never forgot who he was as a child of God. He was a model of the Christian businessman who understood that His Lord came first, not the money or the success. And you know what? The more he gave away the more he received.

Gerald was deeply devoted to the church and throughout the years served this rural congregation as elder and congregational president, as well as on the board of evangelism (a total of 18 years of elected service.) On a wider scale he also worked hard to increase investments for LCEF (Lutheran Church Extension Fund), which provides money to build churches throughout the country. One of his sons entered the ministry of the Lutheran church - the Rev. William Volm - and continues after his retirement from the Volm corporation to serve as an assistant pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in Antigo. His dear wife, Dorothy, also faithfully serveed our rural parish in Polar in the altar guild and Ladies Aid and Sunday School, until she passed away late in 2005.

For all of the earthly wealth that was entrusted to this man, he treasured the gifts of God in family and church more than all others. He was faithfully and happily married for over 60 years to the woman he fondly referred to as his as his "sweetheart." He raised five daughters and one son who have remained faithful to the church as well, yet in their own right have also developed vocations in the business where they serve the community.

Personally I will miss Gerald. He was a pleasure to minister to, for he was always so appreciative, and he demonstrated such a servant attitude in everything he did. I pray that his example will inspire other laypeople to pursue their God-given vocations with the same hard work and proper spiritual priorities, with a servant's heart that cares.

We will bury Gerald this coming Monday, April 30. That's the same day he was baptized. How fitting! The day he entered the Kingdom of God through water and the Word became the day he was ushered into that Kingdom in all its glory.

Rest in peace my dear friend. God blessed you, and through you has blessed us.

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