young-minister On April 27, 2009, Burdett William Wakeman was called home to be with his Lord. Born on Dec. 27, 1923, to Milford Faye     Wakeman and Hazel (Smith) Wakeman in Winona, Minn., Burdett felt called to preach God’s word from a very early age.

At age 10, Burdett became nationally known for his Little Church in the Garage, a “congregation” of as many as 25 young  people who met for church services every Tuesday night in the family garage in the summer and in the family’s basement in winter. Burdett preached as other neighborhood children filled roles of serving as choir director and church secretary. The Associated Press learned of the gathering, and soon Burdett was asked to speak in various churches throughout the area, including La Crosse. Although even at that young age he was offered monetary payment for his speaking, Burdett never accepted money for himself, but instead orchestrated the collection of articles and money for those in need.

Burdett enlisted in the Army in December 1942, and married Elaine Coralynn Jewell on Aug. 14, 1943. Burdett’s and Elaine’s parents were friends long before their children were born, allowing Burdett and Elaine to be childhood friends before they began their courtship. They grew up together, attended church together, and eventually married, sharing 65 wonderful years together in marriage.

After Burdett was discharged from the military in September 1945, he immediately enrolled in Minnesota Bible College to prepare for the ministry, graduating in 1949. During his many years in ministry, he served churches in Marion, Minn., Mason City, Iowa, Plainview, Minn., and La Crosse. Burdett always envisioned the planting of additional congregations in La Crosse to meet the needs of the expanding city. His ministry in La Crosse started with the First Church of Christ, and included the establishment of the Onalaska Church of Christ and Southside Christian Church. Burdett’s love for his Lord was evident in all that he pursued throughout his entire life. In recent years, he rejoiced in being able to watch his three grandsons follow their grandfather’s example, as they, too, entered the ministry and committed their lives to full-time Christian service.

Always thinking of new and creative ways of trying to reach people, Burdett originated the radio program “Something To Live By,” using the radio name of Bill Merrill, and the newspaper column “Mindfully Yours,” both of which were heard and read in various cities throughout the United States. He also created and hosted the radio program “Evangel Time,” heard locally every Sunday morning for many years. In addition to these outreach ventures, Burdett wrote a monthly column for The Christian Standard and started the Christian Bible Study Club on the campus of UW-L.

Burdett is survived by his wife, Elaine; his daughters, Coralynn (Ron) Nelson of Joplin, Mo., Cheryl (Richard) Moen of La Crescent, Minn., and Rhonda Hardiman of La Crosse. He is also survived by five grandchildren, Troy (Tamra) Nelson of Joplin, Kip (Catherine) Nelson of Mead, Colo., Heather (Stephen) Keathly of Schinnen, Netherlands, Ryan (Sara) Nelson of Albuquerque, N.M., and Alyssa Hardiman of La Crosse. Burdett was blessed by eight great-grandchildren, who also survive him.

A service celebrating Burdett’s life will be held Wednesday, May 6, at 1 p.m. at Onalaska Church of Christ, 1415 Well St., Onalaska, with Richard Pierce, Troy Nelson, Kip Nelson and Ryan Nelson performing the service. Friends also may call during the visitation from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 5, at Onalaska Church of Christ. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Gospel Broadcasting Mission, W6485 Birchview Drive, Onalaska, WI 54650; Ozark Christian College, 1111 N. Main St., Joplin, MO 64801; or Crossroads College, 920 Mayowood Road SW, Rochester, MN 55902.

One Response to “His Story”

  1. […] athlete was Burdett W. Wakeman and it was on April 27, 2009 that he passed away (Read his story here).  The New Testament, Hebrews 12:1 says: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud […]

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