The most vulnerable among us—the unborn, the disabled, the elderly—lost a champion when Dr. Jack Willke died earlier this year. On Tuesday, July 21, we’re going to celebrate his life and legacy with a special memorial reception. I’m writing today to invite you to join us either in person or via live streaming.
If you plan to attend in person, please let us know by July 14. There is no charge to attend.
Jack loved a good story. At the reception honoring his life and work, that’s what we’ll be doing—telling stories.
We received hundreds of messages after Jack died February 20. Pro-lifers Jan and Ron McCoy wrote, “If there is a purpose for every life, dearest Jack must not have awakened even one day without knowing his.”
How many of us can say that?
Actually, because of the Willkes thousands of us can say that. Jack and Barbara drew many people to the pro-life movement, including me. I was a high school senior when I first used the famous “Willke slides” in a class persuasive speech, and I’ve been involved in the movement ever since. Many pro-life leaders the world over trace the kindling of their passion to those slides, a presentation or maybe Handbook on Abortion, the Willkes’ first book that became the pro-life bible. We were horrified by abortion, afraid for our nations, but we hardly knew where to begin. The Willkes armed us with information and sent us out.
We’ve invited Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey to join us at the reception. He’s a staunch pro-lifer who has chaired the US House’s bipartisan Pro-Life Committee for 32 years. We’ll also hear from Jack and Barbara’s firstborn daughter, Dr. Marie Willke Meyers.
Others who’ll share their comments are Bill Saunders, senior VP for legal affairs and senior legal counsel for Americans United for Life, and Joe Scheidler, founder and national director of the Pro-Life Action League. Both of these individuals had a long and close relationship with Jack, and he frequently spoke very highly of them. I’ll be sharing a story or two from my 24 years of working side by side with Jack here at Life Issues Institute.
The reception begins at 6 pm EDT on July 21 at the offices of Americans United for Life in Washington, DC, at 655 15th St. NW. We’ll gather on the building’s rooftop, which overlooks the White House—very appropriate, given the time Jack spent there with past presidents.
If you’re unable to travel to Washington, you can join us via live streaming on YouTube. Please bookmark the link now so you’ll be ready on the 21st to enjoy the evening with us. A brief program begins at 6:45. If you work with a pro-life chapter or crisis pregnancy center, why not get a group together to enjoy good food and fellowship, watch the reception, and share your own stories? I can’t think of a better way to honor Jack’s memory. And trust me; he’d be especially honored knowing that grassroots pro-lifers were joining us via YouTube.
We’ve also prepared a slideshow of photos from Jack and Barbara’s life, work and family. If you can’t attend, you can see that on our website at this link.
Guests at the reception will enjoy elegant hors d’oeuvres, wine, beer, soft drinks and water, all complimentary.
Remember, if you’re planning to attend in person, we need your RSVP by July 14. Email Twanna Spurgeon or call 202.741.4901.
I look forward to seeing you there!