David W. Hecker, 94, Silver Bay, died unexpectedly, “ when his heart stopped beating” (to use his words), on Sunday, February 7, 2021 at Lake View Memorial Hospital in Two Harbors.
David was born June 26, 1926 to Louis Jacob and Jesse (Jensen) Hecker in Alhambra, California. He grew up in San Gabriel, CA and attended Garfield High School. David was active duty at the end of WWII, serving in the U. S. Navy from 1944 until 1946. After military service, he returned home to learn the plastering trade from his father, and with his employer, went on to plaster most of the houses in Upland, CA, during the post-war housing boom. On June 4, 1950, at the age of 24, David knelt at an altar of prayer and turned his life over to Jesus. He layed his cigarettes on the altar, and that night poured his liquor into the gutter. For the rest of his life, he never had a craving again for alcohol or tobacco. Serving Jesus became the focus of his life. David was the much beloved uncle of four nephews and two nieces, the life of every party, and a highly revered youth minister in his early years. For years he preached weekly at the prison, and at the mission on skid row in Los Angeles, with his father.
In 1967, David went to Guatemala and served as a missionary for 4 years. On January 2, 1972, he married Nellie Johanna Sander Brown, and became daddy to her five children. Together they returned to Fontana, California, where he worked at Kaiser Steel and served as Minister of Music at Fontana First Church of the Nazarene. In 1974, he and Johanna felt called to evangelism and commenced a five-year full-time ministry of music and preaching on the road.
In 1978, with a vision of developing a retreat for Christian families, David and Johanna purchased wilderness acreage in Finland, which they named “God’s Wilderness. They would spend 35 years there before making Silver Bay, MN their home in 2013. Throughout their life together, they had three more children and adopted three, bringing their total to eleven.
David was preceded in death by his wife, Johanna; a son, Nathan; grandchildren, Clark and Reagan Russell, and Ruth Hecker, great-granddaughter, Emerson Hawthorne; parents, Louis and Jesse Hecker; sister, Irene Brown, and brother, Louis Hecker Jr.
He is survived by children, Joanna (Brad) Hawthorne, Susanna (Mark) Fenstad, Rachel Sherman, David II, Debbie (Mark) Russell, Rebekah (Steve) Fruh, Daniel (Danielle), Angie Parks, James (Rhea), and Misty Smith; daughters-in-law, Renee Hecker, and Rebecca O’Hara-Hecker; 58 grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren; and multiple generations of nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be from 3 PM until the 5 PM service on Thursday, February 18, 2021 at Bay Area Vineyard in Silver Bay. All are invited to attend. Burial with military honors will be at 2 PM on Friday, February 19, 2021 at the Minnesota Veteran’s Cemetery in Saginaw. Due to limited space, attendance to the burial is for immediate family. Thank you for your prayers, support, and understanding.
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