LDS Church News

Missionary moment: A joyful reunion

Published: Saturday, June 14 2014 12:25 a.m. MDT

At the age of 110, Alice Roffler of the Pratteln Ward, Bern Switzerland Stake, has become the oldest living person in Switzerland, and could quite possibly be the oldest living member of the Church.

Just weeks before her 110th birthday, Jack Sommer — the missionary who introduced her to the gospel — visited with her.

“While visiting Switzerland in late March this year … and knowing that Sister Roffler was still alive, some of my family and I visited [her],” said Brother Sommer. “We met her walking in the hallway with her walker, which she had just begun to use in January of this year. Although her hearing and eyesight have become less than perfect, her mind is still sharp and clear.”

Born on April 14, 1904, Sister Roffler was 46 when she met missionaries as she was riding her bike in late 1950. “We greeted her as we passed each other. A short time later, in November, we happened to ring her doorbell. She invited us right into her home.”

She began reading the Book of Mormon and any of the literature the missionaries gave her and, within four months, was baptized.

Around the time of her baptism, Sister Roffler’s only son, Heinrich, was living in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. He had every Wednesday afternoon free; his mother insisted that he return home on the train each of those afternoons to listen to the missionaries’ message. “He obeyed his dear mother and was subsequently baptized,” said Brother Sommer. “He then went on a mission. He served in several callings in the Church throughout his life, including as a counselor in the Zurich stake presidency with Elder Hans B. Ringger.”

Sister Roffler’s missionary spirit has followed her throughout her life.

“Sister Roffler has been a missionary at heart — since the very day we first met her at her door — by telling others of the joyous gospel message,” said Brother Sommer. “Because of her enthusiasm and her friendship with others, she referred us to many of them. More than a dozen were baptized while we were there through her referrals, and how many more is a wonder. She was not hesitant to tell others about the ‘pearl of great price’ she had found.”

Brother Sommer and Sister Roffler have kept in contact over the years, even getting together when he has traveled to Switzerland — especially since Brother Sommers’ late wife, Emmeli Schaffner Sommer, is from Switzerland. — Marianne Holman Prescott