NAPOLEON - Louis E. Recker, 63, a former teacher for Defiance City Schools and St. Augustine School, Napoleon, who ministered as a Catholic deacon at St. Augustine Catholic Church, died of Parkinson's disease Sunday at his home here.
Mr. Recker had been a junior high school principal in Fort Jennings, Ohio, for several years before taking a teaching job with Defiance schools in 1981, the year he and his wife, Jane, moved to Napoleon.
"He loved teaching, and the kids were the thing he enjoyed the most," his wife said.
Mr. Recker taught students in a gifted program at Defiance High School for about two years, and continued to teach Latin classes there for about another six years, Mrs. Recker recalled.
He then went on to teach language arts to seventh and eighth graders at Defiance Middle School, from which he retired in 1999.
While teaching middle school-aged children can be a challenge, Mr. Recker brought a certain compassion and understanding to the job, his wife said.
"Having six children at home, he knew kids could get in trouble," she said. "He just enjoyed and accepted the kids, and was very gentle and understanding."
As a young man, Mr. Recker had studied to become a Catholic priest.
However, he decided to enter education instead after becoming somewhat disenchanted with the direction the church appeared to be heading after the Vatican II council in the 1960s, his wife said.
Still a man of deep faith, Mr. Recker was ordained as a deacon for the Toledo Catholic Diocese in 1978. So after retiring from the Defiance schools, he taught at St. Augustine School in Napoleon during the 2000-2001 school year.
"He thought he would try teaching in the Catholic schools after teaching in the public schools for so many years," Mrs. Recker said.
Mr. Recker retired as a deacon of St. Augustine Catholic Church in about 2003 because of failing health.
"Everybody thought the world of him," recalled Bruce Buckmaster, a fellow deacon. "He was a very compassionate, non-judgmental person."
Surviving are his wife, Jane Recker; daughters, Mary Franz, Ginny Thompson, and Jackie Recker; sons, Michael, David, and Tony Recker; brothers, John, Lawrence, James, Odo, Ralph, and Steve Recker; sisters, Nancy Recker, Mary Recker, Jane Landwehr, Theresa Niese, Janet Rosengarten, and 10 grandchildren.
Visitation will be after 7 p.m. Thursday in the Rosenberger Funeral Home, Napoleon, and after 2 p.m. Friday in St. Augustine Catholic Church. The funeral is set for 11 a.m. Saturday in the church. The family suggests tributes to St. Augustine School.