Lawrence Eugene Claire Joers
1900 - 1999
Lawrence E. C. Joers was a Seventh-day Adventist surgeon, writer, speaker, and musician. He became well known for his work as a physician and hospital administrator and popular speaker and writer on both medical and religious subjects. He also wrote poetry and composed music.
Joers was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Gust J. and Ella Joers, the eldest of seven children. He was raised in North Dakota and attended Auburn Academy in Washington state. He attended Walla Walla College, now University, and following graduation trained to be a nurse.
It was during this time that he became a participant in events surrounding the last train robbery in Oregon, in 1923. By happenstance, he was traveling on a train where a robbery attempt by two brothers resulted in four deaths and several injuries. With the limited knowledge he had in medicine at that time, he was able to care for the injured until a physician and medical team arrived.
Although initially, Joers trained to be a nurse, he eventually entered the College of Medical Evangelists, now Loma Linda University to study to be a physician. Following his internship at Los Angeles County Hospital, he practiced medicine in Tacoma, Washington, and then served in the Navy during World War II and the Korean War. He was awarded the Bronze Star and received a commendation ribbon and seventeen Battle Stars.
He retired with the rank of captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve Medical Corps. Following his retirement, his last duty being that of medical officer for the ninth Naval District at the Great Lakes Training Center in Illinois, he practiced medicine in Ardmore and then Jay, Oklahoma, for 23 years. In Jay he was responsible for the local hospital's becoming part of the Adventist health care system in 1969 and then served as its administrator until three years before his retirement in 1978.
Joers would write five books, the first, God is My Captain, was about his four years in the Pacific Theater and published in 1945, the year WW II ended. It became a widely read book and was selected as one of the Reading Course books for the church's youth in 1955. Other books would follow in 1952, 1960, and 1972. His second book, Thou Art Peter, was a dramatization of the life of Christ and Peter.
The third book, Mercy Rides on Wings, was about his experiences as a physician during a two-month trip he took to Peru with his family in the 1950s, while he was practicing medicine in Tacoma. A fourth book, The Journey, An Inside Look at the Human, was done with Ronald Hester. A final book, Call Collect, is a book about prayer.
Joers became a popular speaker, invited to do weeks of prayer at Adventist academies and colleges. He also was a featured speaker at graduations, youth rallies, camp meetings, revival and evangelistic meetings, and ministerial retreats.
As early as 1922, he began writing numerous poems and articles for the church's publications. In 1924, John F. Anderson set one of Joers' earliest poems, published in 1922 by the Youth's Instructor, primary magazine for the youth in the Adventist church, to music. "Holy Sabbath Day of Rest," is Hymn #381in the 1985 Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal.
While living in Oklahoma, Joers composed a cantata, Behold, He Cometh, using Bible texts to describe the Second Advent of Christ. Parts of it were performed at Southwestern Junior College, now Southwestern Adventist University, in the 1950s, and again in 1971, on the occasion of "L.E.C. Joers Day," a day set aside by the Jay city council to honor him and his work. John Reed worked with Joers in preparing and arranging final copy of the work and Reed published it in the 1970s. It was subsequently performed by the Southwestern College choir and released on a record.
He married Annetta Mae Peterson in 1948, a music teacher at Auburn Academy who had graduated from Walla Walla College in 1945 with a degree in music. Because of their shared interests in music, the Joerses supported music activities at SWAU. In 1970, they contributed a two-manual four-stop harpsichord to the school and, in 1972, donated $25,000 towards the fundraising for a pipe organ in the auditorium in Evans Hall.
They retired to Reedsport, Oregon, in 1978, where he helped strengthen and pastor the local Adventist church. He was living there when he died in 1999 at age 98.
Sources: The Review and Herald, 12 June 1951, 20; 22 April 1954, 19; 22 November 1962, 21; 11 March 1971, 25; 3 June 1982, 9; 22 August 1996, 22,23. The Youth's Instructor, 28 February 1922; The Record, 14 December 1955, 6,7; August 1999, 31 (Obituary); The News-Palladium, Benton Harbor, Michigan, 14 July 1955, 6; Jim Yaskavitch, Outlaw Tales of Oregon, 2007, Marie Book Publishing, 9, 10; Wayne H. Hooper and Edward E. White, Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 1988, Review and Herald Publishing Association, 390-91; 1910 U.S. Census Records; Interview with Annetta and Linda Joers and a conversation with L.E.C. (Skip) Joers, Jr., February 2011.