Bill was born at home in a Methodist parsonage in Hagerstown, Indiana to Earl and Marie Imler on February 6, 1925. He grew up in many Indiana towns due to the itinerant nature of the Methodist Church’s appointment system of pastors. He attended Middletown High School until, as part of a national defense initiative, he was selected to depart high school one semester early and begin studies in engineering at Purdue University. In the summer of 1943 Bill enlisted in the Navy and trained in its Air Corps. After one solo training flight he returned for a landing at the base in Ottumwa, Iowa and found it nearly deserted. Over the loud speaker he learned that Japan had surrendered. At that point, Bill chose to return to civilian life and returned to Indiana, where he transferred to DePauw University. During the summers of his college years, Bill worked at Studebaker in South Bend, where he bought his first car in 1949. After Bill’s first year of seminary, he married Dona Lou Wilson, whom he had met at DePauw.
They moved to a small apartment in Madison until Bill graduated from seminary in 1951. From 1950-53 Bill was appointed pastor of two Methodist churches in Modena and Clintondale, N.Y. During the last 2 years of that pastoral ministry, Bill commuted to Yale Divinity School for additional graduate studies. After graduation in 1953, Bill and Dona Lou drove their family of 5 in their Studebaker with a trailer hitched behind it to Indianapolis, where Bill accepted the leadership of a newly chartered church called St. Luke’s Methodist. Worship services of St Luke’s Church were held in an American Legion Hall until 1955, when construction of a church building began and the congregation grew significantly. In November of 1959 Bill was appointed pastor of First Methodist Church in Martinsville, Indiana. The next move was a return to Madison, N.J, where Bill began work as Assistant Dean of Drew Theological Seminary. From 1967-1973 Bill worked as Director of Continuing Education for the alumni of Garret Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. During this time he also preached at Michigan Avenue United Methodist Church in Hobart, Indiana, often renting a Cessna to fly in for the worship service and deliver his message. In June of 1973 Bill was appointed to the pastoral staff of First United Methodist Church in West Lafayette, IN. Following this assignment Bill took a sabbatical leave from ministry and toured United Methodist mission work around the world with his wife, Dona Lou. Bill assumed the leadership of Clay United Methodist Church in May of 1977 and served there 10 years. After retirement he served on the staff of First United Methodist Church in South Bend as pastor of visitation. In 1992 Bill and Dona Lou became Volunteers in Mission at Wesley United Methodist Church in Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia, where Bill served as pastor and where they developed connections, which have lasted decades. From 1991 to the present Bill and Dona Lou were involved in the Methodist Church’s work of establishing, developing and supporting Africa University in Old Mutare, Zimbabwe. They have visited there four times and have hosted the Vice Chancellor of Africa University and his wife in their home many times as well as students and graduates of the university.
In retirement Bill and Dona Lou have hosted many relatives and friends and international friends at their Lake Gage home. The grandchildren and great grandchildren, nieces and nephews experienced enjoyable outdoor activities and celebrations at the lake over the years they lived there.
William A. Imler is survived by his wife of 73 years, Dona Lou, his sons Don (Kay), Lee (Armida), Craig (Romana) and daughters Carol (Dave) Jackson and Anita Goss. He is survived by 6 grandchildren: Anita, Chris, Dan, Kelton, Matthew and Finn and 5 great grandchildren: Gryph, Drake, Nico, George and June.
The memorial service for Rev. William A. Imler will be September 10 at 2:00 with visitation at 1:00 at Angola United Methodist Church, 220 West Maumee Street in Angola. Preferred memorials are to the church or to Africa University Development Office, PO Box 34007, Nashville, TN, 37203.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.beamsfuneralhome.com for the Imler family.
Angola United Methodist Church 220 West Maumee Street , Angola, Indiana 46737
Africa University Development Office PO Box 34007 , Nashville, Tennessee 37203