Death of Roger Abels

We were saddened to learn of the recent death of long-time GCI pastor Roger Abels. 

Roger and Donna
Roger with his wife Donna

Roger passed away at age 66 on May 16. He was born on June 6, 1949 in Omaha, Nebraska, the son of the late Glenn and Alice Abels. Roger retired after 42 years as a GCI pastor, having served in Philadelphia, Chicago, Louisville, Kalamazoo, and (for 25 years) Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Roger is survived by his wife Donna of Fort Wayne, his daughters Jessica (Travis) McClure and Courtney (Mark) Harmon of Fort Wayne, his son Travis Abels of Portland, six grandchildren, a brother and a sister. Roger was preceded in death by a son, Brandon Abels, and by a sister.

Funeral services will be on Friday, May 20 at 1:00pm at Hockemeyer and Miller Funeral Home in Fort Wayne, with calling one hour prior; GCI Pastor Jim Valekis will officiate. Calling will also be on Thursday, May 19 from 2-4 and 6-8pm at the funeral home.

Here are excerpts from tributes posted on Facebook by Roger’s children:

  • From Roger’s daughter, Courtney Abels Harmon

Roger-and-CourtneyDad passed away yesterday in the most peaceful way any of us could chose—after the words “amen” and while being embraced by his family. Thank you for your prayers. God answered them though some of the answers weren’t what we wanted. There is no doubt that Dad is with Jesus. That was what he wanted the most!

  • From Roger’s daughter, Jessica Abels McClure

Roger and JessicaDaddy, as much as you “loved life,” you never lived for earthly rewards because you understood this was simply your temporary home. You lived your life with an unshakable assurance of what comes next. May you experience the unimaginable joy of being with our Heavenly Father, as you so much looked forward to doing. Thank you for dedicating your life to teaching not only your family, but hundreds of others the grace and peace that comes with knowing our Lord and Savior.

  • From Roger’s son, Travis Abels

Travis AbelsThank you Dad for taking us on camping trips, and showing us how to pick out a good walking stick. For being so easy to laugh, and filling our house with its echo, for so many years. Thank you for kissing mom every day, and yelling “emergency, emergency!” when you needed an immediate hug. For your strong arms, that cherished hard work, planting gardens, and playing basketball with your kids. For your adventurous spirit. Your tenacity. Your wisdom. Your tenderness. For all the late nights you stayed up with me making popcorn, and sneaking ice cream from the outside fridge.

Thank you for telling me “A poor man’s cloud is just as beautiful as rich man’s cloud,” and giving me my first beer after a long day of work in the yard. For your diamond-blue eyes, that so lovingly watched us, and your gentle smile, when we looked back at you. For showing us that it was okay to cry, and reminding us to never let the sun go down on our anger. Thank you, Pops, for being my favorite storyteller, and painting worlds with your words. For using those words to lead, to heal, to inspire laughter and understanding. For being a courageous example of what faith can do, and showing us what a good man looked like. For spreading your light so far and wide.

Please be in prayer for Roger’s wife Donna, for their children, the rest of the family and close friends. Cards may be sent to:

Donna Abels
1827 Ransom Dr.
Ft Wayne, IN 46845

12 thoughts on “Death of Roger Abels”

  1. Our deepest sympathies to Donna and family. We are deeply saddened by Roger’s passing, but are inspired by his life, our friendship and many good memories. Roger is with the Lord, and we know we will all be reunited on that great and glorious day. Our love and prayers are with you. Ray and Carol Meyer

  2. It is with shock and great sadness that we learned of Roger’s passing this week. He served our Kalamazoo Michigan Congregation during a difficult time with gentle leadership and a steady hand that will never be forgotten. He had and amazing talent for teaching Biblical understanding and believing in JESUS as our Savior. He is with JESUS, a very safe place. God bless his family. We pray for his wife, Donna and family.

  3. I am tearful at the news I knew was coming. Not enough can be said about Roger ~ he was one of a kind. My prayers are with Donna, Jessica, Courtney and Travis. We all looked for a miracle recovery which wasn’t to be. But he is healed now and at peace with our Savior. Roger will never be forgotten by those who knew and loved him. Jim Stokes

  4. We are so sorry to hear of your loss. May God, through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, keep you and your family snuggled in His all caring and loving arms during this time – and always.
    In Christ
    Grace Covenant Fellowship
    Birmingham, Alabama

  5. Although I never had the privilege to know Roger personally I know that he was much loved by many. What a beautiful witness it is to have one’s children express such deep admiration for their father. Roger is with Christ and his legacy is an example for those who are left behind until that glorious time when we will all be united with God in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

    Our prayers reach out to Donna and all of the family. May the Spirit fill your hearts and minds with many golden moments and dear memories as you remember Roger in the assurance that there is so much more to come.

    In Him,
    Santiago and Elke

  6. Thank you for letting us know just a little about the soul of this precious man through your sharing with us! What an awesome God we serve!
    You all will forever be in our prayers.

  7. There are no “earthly” words to say how much we loved and will miss this man of GOD. He served us so faithfully without wavering over many years. We know GOD has a plan for all our lives and and the earthly plan for Mr. Abels is over. The eternal plan we all will experience at one time or the other, has been implemented for Mr. Abels. No more pain, no more suffering, tubes, trachs, breathing machines, all past away. What he has now is eternal bliss with the LORD he loved and served so well. We know the GOD of all comfort will now wrap HIS loving arms around the family and overflow their banks with HIS love. HE will be with you all according to HIS faithfulness and will never leave nor forsake you. Mr. Abels was precious to many people and he will be missed greatly. Thank GOD for the resurrection and eternity when we will all meet again. To HIM be the glory. Death was defeated at the cross!

  8. Roger was more than a kind, gentle and understanding pastor, he was also a friend. He was there to comfort during the most difficult time of my life, the death of my wife and there to share in celebration in one of my greatest joys and co-officiate my marriage over two years later. It was a joy as well to assist him in serving the Kalamazoo congregation and to learn from his excellent teaching skills. He will be greatly missed. Our prayers go up for God’s strength and comfort for the family. Art and Karrie Thomas

  9. Dear Mrs. Abels and family, you are in my prayers. May God comfort you at this time of loss. God bless from Trevor Coverdale; GCI/WCG London, England.

  10. Dear Donna and children, I am shocked and totally heartbroken to hear about Mr. Abels, your husband and father. He was my minister in Hammond, IN when I first came to church. He baptized me at your home. I loved him. He was a wonderful man of God and I pray with all my heart that God will comfort all of you everyday through this time of sadness. I’m so sorry, he was so young, and it’s hard to understand why things happen when they do. I will never forget his smile and his kindness. I think he was the nicest person I ever knew.

  11. I was sad to hear the news about Roger. I have met him only a couple of times, but he was always welcoming and sincere to me and my wife. Our prayers are with the family. I will spread the news to our congregation in Toledo.

  12. Just back from a trip so sorry to hear about this–Roger was a down-to-earth straight shooter and we can’t afford too many losses like this.

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