The Remarkable Jim Niederer

Jim Niederer called Dorothy on her birthday last month but got her voicemail. Without any preliminaries, he sang Happy Birthday completely in German, then hung up. It was an unexpected call from her father’s younger brother, especially since it was in German. Jim’s parents, Dorothy’s grandparents, immigrated to Waco, Texas from the German-speaking Appenzell, Switzerland in 1907. The family became part of the Central Baptist Church, a former mission of First Baptist, Waco, to the German immigrant families. Jim’s mother organized Central’s WMU in 1910. Jim was born January 6, 1921. He served in World War II from 1942-1945. When he married Ella Marie Gossen in 1947, a very young Dorothy Niederer was their flower girl.

Jim Niederer has a remarkable story.  After intensive training, Jim’s unit sailed to north Africa to fight the Nazis in Europe. Under the command of General George Patton, he participated in the invasion of Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio in Italy. They then fought their way through Italy to France and Germany. Because Jim could speak German, he could eavesdrop in various places and pick up what was rumored to be happening. Once Jim was able to get a brief leave to meet up with his younger brother Charlie, whose unit was also in Italy. Later, Jim witnessed General Patton’s death from about 50 feet away. His unit came under the command of General Dwight Eisenhower, whom he talked with on many occasions.  As the war was winding down in Europe, they freed towns across Germany and on to Austria, where Jim’s unit liberated the Dachau concentration camp. Jim was awarded six bronze stars. 

The Intentional Lifegroup of Preston Road Baptist Church, Dallas, has as its mission the video recording of the remaining WWII veterans to preserve their stories. Even though Jim’s family counts Park Cities Baptist Church as their home church, the Lifegroup filmed Jim’s story and combined it with actual war footage and newsreels of Jim’s experience. You can watch Jim recount his experiences on You Tube. Search for Jim Niederer: 102 Year Old World War II Veteran. The complete documentary is 50 minutes and contains many brutal scenes from the war. 

Jim is a remarkable man who still lives in his own house. His son Ken comes over each night to help him get ready for bed. His daughter Kay drives in from Round Rock to spend most weekends with him. Others check on Jim daily. He greatly misses Ella Marie, who died in 2020. And he reads The Evangel faithfully each week. Thank you, Uncle Jim, for your faithfulness in prayer for the church’s ministries and your sacrifice for liberty and democracy.

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