Funeral for Dr. Willke Set for Thursday
Dr. John Willke, known as “Jack” to friends and admirers, passed away suddenly Friday night. A beloved family physician, father, and grandfather, he and his late wife Barbara were founders of the international pro-life movement.
Authors, speakers, and producers of educational materials used to teach about abortion in many countries, from slide presentations to radio programs, they spoke about the reality of abortion all over the world. Their book Abortion Questions and Answers, one of more than a dozen books they wrote together, inspired generations of pro-life activists including the young undercover filmmaker and founder of Live Action, Lila Rose.
The Willkes founded Right to Life — local, state, and national — helped coin the term “pro life,” and were instrumental in the creation of crisis pregnancy centers. In 1991, Dr. Willke and Bradley Mattes co-founded Life Issues Institute. Until the late 1980s, Dr. Willke also continued his family practice.
Barbara Willke, his “soulmate,” died in April 2013. Early this year their long-awaited book on the history of the pro-life movement, Abortion and the Pro-Life Movement: An Inside View, was published. Their legacy is many lives saved, many people awakened to the reality of abortion, and a firm foundation to a movement convinced that someday abortion will be unimaginable.
“Dr. Willke was the leading statesman addressing the second civil rights struggle of our nation,” said Paula Westwood, executive director of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati. “He met with presidents and popes and crossed the globe, but his passion was always to ensure the right to life for helpless unborn children and other vulnerable people.”
Father of six, grandfather of 22, and great-grandfather of 3, Dr. Willke would have been 90 in April. Devout Catholics, the Willkes were long-time members of St. Clare parish College Hill/Cincinnati.
Dr. Willke’s funeral will be held at St. Clare on Thursday, Feb. 26th, at 11 am. Visitation will be held at Hodapp Funeral Home in College Hill on Wednesday from 4 – 8 pm.
Tomorrow: Local and national tributes to Dr. Willke.
For Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati’s tribute, click here.
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