When Everett Peter Bunck started the Christ Lutheran Church in Cape Coral in 1961, it was in a downtown storefront with miles of nothing surrounding it.
The church moved to its current location in 1964 and steadily grew into the glorious campus it has become today, a testament to Bunck's efforts.
Bunck, the pastor primarily responsible for its founding and transformation, died on Dec. 18 at age 93.
Paul Sanborn, Bunck's friend of more than 50 years, remembered the days Bunck started out in the Cape after moving from Michigan to create a church here in 1961, the first organized one in Cape Coral.
"He was the first pastor in Cape Coral. He was known as the storefront pastor," Sanborn said. "We had no churches at the time. Just a storefront at Big John's. It's an attorney's office now."
"It believe it was at the old Webb's Clothing Store. They just set up chairs there," said current pastor Gary LaCroix. "It was his mission to build this ministry."
Within three years, they had their first building at the corner of Del Prado and Cornwallis, where Bunck's wife of 67 years, Dorothy, played organ.
LaCroix said it was his austerity that allowed him to grow at a steady rate.
"He never built anything without being able to pay for it," LaCroix said. "He didn't believe in debt. He made things happen and paid for it."
As the community grew, the church grew to serve the community more. In 1977, the current, larger building was built.
Even before then, Sanborn said he was a leader in the community that was beginning to find its identity.
"He was a vocal proponent of Cape Coral. He knew everyone," Sanborn said. "He was instrumental in the youth movement in the city and built the church up and got it under way. He was an exceptional person and leader in the community."
Bunck retired in 1984 and moved to Fort Myers.
Bunck was involved with the World Lutheran Federation in resettling immigrants and was an astute follower of what it did, even toward his death.
"He was committed to justice and his involvement in those immigrants was very humble," LaCroix said. "He was astute with what was happening with the church. He never stopped being a student. He was an avid reader."
Bunck was also a Cape Coral Citizen of the Year in tribute to his service to the city during its infancy, which will be his legacy, LaCroix said.
"He was a servant to the church, faithful to the gospel. Christ was crucified and everything we do is thanksgiving for that," LaCroix said.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 30, at Christ Lutheran Church, 2911 Del Prado Blvd., S, Cape Coral.
In lieu of flowers donations in memory of Pastor Bunck can be made to Christ Lutheran Church.