On July 21, the memorial reception honouring the life and legacy of the late Dr. Jack Willke was held in Washington D.C. by the Life Issues Institute at the headquarters of Americans United for Life.
Willke died on Feb. 20, but was not honoured until the summer at an event sponsored by Life Issues Institute, AUL, 40 Days for Life, Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, and a dozen other organizations.
Willke was a former president of the National Right to Life Committee who later founded the Life Issues Institute and International Right to Life Federation. He was an active pro-life writer and leader for more than four decades and authored several influential books on abortion and euthanasia. His last book, Abortion and the Pro-Life Movement: An Inside View, was published last year.
Life Issues president Brad Mattes called the memorial a “marvelous event” with “a who’s who of the movement attending.”
Among those speaking were Mattes, Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League, Bill Saunders of AUL, Chuck Donovan of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, and Rep. Chris Smith (R, N.J.).
Willke said “Jack was considered the father and grandfather of the pro-life movement,” recalling his mentor’s early activism and leadership.
Scheidler recalled Willke’s support in various lawsuits, including testifying on his behalf. Saunders recalled his time on the board of the IRLF and Jack and Barbara Willke’s stamina and fortitude. Smith, who did not expect to attend the memorial because voting was taking place in the House of Representatives, made the reception with his wife Marie, and he offered some personal stories about his friendship with Willke.
Afterward Matte said, “Jack’s death left an enormous hole in my heart and I can’t tell you how good it was to fellowship with those who knew Jack and his monumental contribution to the pro-life movement.”
The Willke’s daughter, Marie Willke Meyers, also spoke and signed copies of Abortion and the Pro-Life Movement, which she co-authored with her parents.