Pearl Auker honored her husband's request and got a wonderful result.
"He told me many times, 'Don't you dare play that sad funeral music. I want upbeat music. We're going to celebrate me going to heaven,'" she recalled. "So, that's what we did."
Pearl Auker's husband, the Rev. Gary Auker of York Township, died of natural causes Tuesday, Oct. 16, at York Hospital. He was 63.
His celebration of life service was held in Windsor Township at Grace Baptist Church, where he served as senior pastor from 1985 until his death.
"On the day of his (service), six people accepted Christ as their savior," said Pearl Auker, 60. "That would have thrilled him."
The church is now being led by the Rev. Steve Warner, who was Auker's assistant pastor, she said.
Besides his wife and church family, Auker leaves a daughter, Linda Lusk of Windsor Township; a son, Gary Auker Jr. of Red Lion; and four grandchildren.
Born in Freeburg, Snyder County, Auker attended West Snyder High School. He graduated from Lancaster Bible College in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in Bible. He received a master's degree in ministry in 1995 from Bethany Theological Seminary, based in Richmond, Ind.
In 1997, he received his doctorate in ministry from Andersonville Baptist Seminary, based in Camilla, Ga.
His first full-time pastorate was at Primrose Bible Chapel in Schuylkill County. He served there from 1983 to 1985. He then began serving at Grace Baptist Church.
A humble man: Pearl Auker said her husband loved spending time with their grandchildren, riding motorcycles and listening to southern gospel music. He was a big Pittsburgh Steelers fan, she added.
She described her husband as a humble man who took time to listen to people whenever they needed him.
Though Gary Auker dealt with several health problems, he never allowed them to get in the way of ministry, Pearl Auker said.
"His love for ministry, that was his life," she said. "He was ministering to people while he was in the hospital. He just loved people. He cared about where they were going to spend eternity."
Pearl Auker said she enjoyed doing ministry work with her husband. She served 20 years as his administrative assistant, working part-time until leaving the post in January.
"I'm going to miss him terribly," she said. "He was my best friend and my soul mate. It's our loss and heaven's gain."
--Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at emcmilla email@example.com.