BURLINGTON, Wash.—Virgil Owen Vater, a pastor and camp director, died May 6. He was 89.
Vater served in the Merchant Marines as purser/pharmacist’s mate, rising to the rank of LtJG, and chose to do his final medical training at the Marine Hospital in Seattle. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in the Korean War, he took on a different type of service, this time in gospel ministry.
He became pastor of First Baptist Church, Sedro-Woolley, Washington; Progress Bible Church (now Southwest Bible Church), Beaverton, Oregon; and Grace Baptist Church, Bellingham, Washington; pastor to seniors at First Baptist Church, Wenatchee, Washington; and interim pastor at First Baptist Church, East Wenatchee, Washington. He was also director of Camp Gilead, Carnation, Washington, for 11 years.
Grace Baptist Church, where Vater served from 1989 to 1991, calls him a “distinguished and capable“ pastor. While leading that congregation initially as interim pastor and then as the full-time pastor, he observed, “Our purpose as a church is to evangelize and to edify believers. . . . Too often we gear our church programs to meet our tastes, when we need to consider the needs of the unsaved around us.”
Vater was involved in various ministries until he was 86 years old. He produced radio broadcasts, led Holy Land tours, directed outreaches for seniors, and taught classes and Bible studies in mission agencies and care facilities.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Martha (“Marty”), on Dec. 20, 2012. Together Virgil and Marty spent their lives dedicated to gladly serving the Lord wherever He led them.
He is survived by his children, Roger, Randy, Ron, and Renee Farley; six grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.