Feature: Kansan kept World War II vow, builds chapel that welcomes all

| July 2008

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    FROM TOP: Karen Ann Bland stops outside the chapel that Willis Reimer built on the edge of his family farmstead outside of Selkirk, Kan. The chapel remains open to all passersby. Above, a set of praying hands can be seen inside the window at the chapel's back. Inside, visitors will find a small wooden pulpit.

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It took more than 35 years, but a Kansan was able to keep the vow he made during World War II.

Willis Reimer promised God if he made it through World War II, he would build a chapel. That was in 1945, when Reimer was a young soldier stationed in the Harz Mountains, 50 miles outside of Berlin. After serving three years in the Army, Reimer did safely make it back to his beloved home on the western plains of Kansas. And eventually, he kept his promise - some three and a half decades later.

Reimer admits that it took a while to fulfill his promise, what with farming, getting married and raising a family. Finally, though, on Christmas Eve in 1980, the Reimers' two sons, Milan and Karl, positioned the steeple on top of the little church and officially opened it to the public.

Located on the edge of the Reimer family farmstead just outside the tiny town of Selkirk on U.S. Highway 96 in Wichita County, the chapel is open to anyone who is willing to venture off the two-lane pavement.

Open-door policy

While they were still alive, Willis Reimer and his wife, Janie, welcomed anyone who stopped at the chapel and were often heard to say, 'It's not just for us. It's for everybody who wants to take a minute and reflect and relax.'

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