|William Harold "Bill" Ichter|
|Born|| December 11, 1925 |
Nanticoke, Berks County, Pennsylvania
|Died|| August 28, 2019 (aged 93) |
Minden, Webster Parish, Louisiana
|Spouse|| Jerry Catron Ichter (married 1949-2018, her death)|
|Religion||Southern Baptist clergyman|
William Harold Ichter, known as Bill Ichter (December 11, 1925 – August 28, 2019), was a Southern Baptist clergyman who for thirty-five years was a missionary to Brazil under auspices of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
One cannot live a good or meaningful life without God in your life. - Bill Ichter
Ichter was one of two sons of Harold Lester Ichter (1903-1993) and the former Harriet Ellen Tremayne in Nanticoke, a small coal-mining community in Berks County near Reading in southeastern Pennsylvania. Harold Ichter was an employee of the United States Postal Service and the Pennsylvania National Guard; the family was hardly impacted by the Great Depression because of the father's two paychecks. With the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the senior Ichter was sent to Alexandria, Louisiana, to be an umpire for the war games at nearby United States Army camps. As a result of this move, the younger Ichter came into contact with Southern Baptists. He graduated a semester early in 1943 from Bolton High School in Alexandria.
He served from February 1944 to June 1946 as a corporal in General George S. Patton, Jr.'s Third Army infantry in Europe. aichter was one of the 160,000 Allied troops that landed at Normandy in France on D-Day. He received a Bronze Star and the French Legion of Honor. He turned down a chance to become a sergeant so that he could instead participate in various musical groups with the Allied Army of Occupation. Ichter expressed satisfaction on the D-Day commemorations of 2019: "I'm grateful that they're publicizing the invasion, letting people know about the great sacrifices these men have made."
Ichter's book, Who Me, God? reflects in part on his military experiences. Harold Ichter was mobilized as part of the 28th Infantry Division but failed his overseas physical because of arthritis and was instead sent to administer prisoner of war camps at Camp Livingston in Louisiana and other facilities in Texas and New Mexico, while son Bill sailed overseas from Fort Dix, New Jersey, and arrived in England on February 6, 1945, soon sent thereafter into Patton's army. After the war, he toured Rome as part of an Army choir and saw first-hand the devastation and rampant poverty of postwar Italy.
In 1949, Bill Ichter, with assistance from G.I. Bill of Rights, completed his bachelor's degree from Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College in Pineville with majors in Bible and music. Ichter made his profession of faith in Jesus Christ at a campus chapel service preached by W. O. Vaught, who from 1945 to 1983 was the pastor of the Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. While serving in the music ministry of the Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Ichter felt the divine call for mission work. He obtained a master's degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans and continued to serve area churches. In 1956, at his appointment ceremony in Richmond, Virginia, Ichter met Billy Graham, who was holding a crusade that week in Richmond and spoke to each new missionary. In 1964, Ichter compiled a crusade hymnal and composed one song himself. In 1974, Ichter led the 11,500-voice Graham Crusade Choir during the evangelist's appearance in Rio de Janeiro. Upon Graham's death in 2018, Ichter recalled in an interview with his hometown newspaper that the world-known evangelist was "a very dynamic man. A very humble man, and a great man of the Lord. He was well recognized, but he wasn’t a political figure. He was a unifier. When we had the crusade choir, the different denominations had never worked together on anything, but he was the unifier that brought them together." Ichter added, “Heaven will be richer. He’s up there with Bev Shea and Cliff Barrows. The three of them were inseparable during the Graham crusades all over the country, and now they’re together again.”
In 1990, Ichter returned to Louisiana from Brazil. In recent years, he has resided in Minden in Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana, where he is active in the First Baptist Church and has been a hospital chaplain. On Veterans Day 2014, his adopted city of Minden observed "Bill Ichter Day," proclaimed by Mayor Marvin Thomas "Tommy" Davis. In the ceremony, Ichter received from the French consul the Legion of Honor medal, the highest award by that nation. He had also won a Bronze Star during the war. His name was the first to be placed on the Wall of Honor at Minden's Veterans Flag Memorial. The South Webster Chamber of Commerce awarded him its "Lifetime Achievement Award."
Ichter and his wife, the former Jerry Catron (1930-2018), wed in 1949. She was a daughter of businessman Alonzo Brown Catron (1897-1984) and the former Luta Edmonson (1904-1999), who are interred at the New Forest Cemetery in the village of Forest near Oak Grove in West Carroll Parish in northeastern Louisiana. Mrs. Ichter graduated from Forest High School and studied secretarial science at Louisiana College, where she met her husband. Her older sister, Patricia "Pat" Catron de Pingré, who relocate to Irving, Texas to be near her daughter, is the widow of Major de Pingre', a Minden businessman and former journalist, who wrote a history of the First Baptist Church of Minden.
There are four Ichter children. Alana (born May 1950) and Ronald W. Greenwich (born July 1948), also reside in Minden. A son, Carlos Leslyn Ichter (born c. 1960), is the minister of music at the Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, and is a music graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Two other sons are Alan Ichter and his wife, Barbara, of Carrollton, Texas, and Nelson Ichter and his wife, Janilda, of Dallas, Texas.
On June 22, 2018, Ichter suffered a fractured hip in a household fall but recovered. Three months later, Mrs. Ichter died peacefully in her sleep. Ichter himself died eleven months after the passing of his wife.
On October 1, 2019, the Ark La Tex Alumni Association at Louisiana College established the Bill and Jerry Ichter Scholarship in memory of the couple.
- Bro. Bill Ichter passes. Minden Press-Herald (August 29, 2019).
- William Ichter - Oral History Project - World War II (1944-1946). Familysearch.org. Retrieved on March 18, 2017.
- Will Phillips, "Local veteran joins world marking 75 years since D-Day," Minden Press-Herald, June 6, 2019, p. 1.
- "Bill Ichter ('49): Music Missionary to Brazil, Columns: The Magazine for Louisiana College Alumni and Friends, Winter 2016, p. 22.
- Caleb Daniel. Bill and Billy. Retrieved on February 28, 2018.
- Bonnie Culverhouse (October 15, 2014). Rev. Bill Ichter saluted on Veterans Day. Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on March 19, 2017.
- Alonzo Brown Catron. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on March 21, 2017.
- Jerry Ichter obituary. Minden Press-Herald (September 21, 2018). Retrieved on September 22, 2018.
- Major Louis de Pingré. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on April 11, 2020.
- Carlos Ichter. Retrieved on March 19, 2017.