Dr. Helen Tarasenko Sprengel – Lutz was born on October 21, 1925, in Butte, North Dakota, and died on June 6, 2019 in Loma Linda, California.
Helen’s parents, William and Elizabeth Tarasenko moved from Kiev, Russia as sma children. Their parents settled on farms near Butte, North Dakota, where William and Elizabeth met and were married in 1916.
Helen graduated from Sheyenne River Academy in 1943, studied pre – nursing at Union College, Lincoln, Nebraska and continued her nursing education at Glendale Sanitarium and Hospital School of Nursing graduating in the class of 1947. She continued her studies over the years at Loma Linda University School of Nursing with Healthcare Administration and doctoral degree in Philosophy of Education Administration.
In 1949 Helen married Dr. Reuben Sprengel, the first wedding in the La Sierra University Seventh-day Adventist Church. The lived in Loma Linda, Glendale, and Escondido, California while Dr. Reuben continued his medical studies and residency while Helen worked as a nurse.
In 1958 Helen and Reuben received an invitation from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist to serve as missionaries to the Bangkok Adventist Hospital in Bangkok. Dr. Sprengel became Chairman of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department and Helen, director of nursing services from 1958 – 1966.
In 1966 they moved from Fresno, California where Dr. Sprengel practiced his specialty with Doctors James Schooley and Elton Morel. Helen worked as an Assistant Hospital Administrator at Fresno Community Hospital, an Associate Nursing Service director at Valley Medical Center and in 1977 she became Chairperson and Assistant Professor of the Nursing Education faculty at California State University in Fresno.
From 1987 – 1995 the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist invited the Sprengels to serve in Thailand for another 8 years. Helen was requested to write the curriculum for a senior college to be built in Thailand. Since there were no moneys for such a project, she also served as the fundraiser for this project. This experience she wrote about in a book called, “God’s Miracle”. She authored another book, “Fleeing The Spirits”.
Mission College opened in 1990 and was government accredited in 1994 just in time for the first class to graduate. It was also debt free. In 2009 Mission College received University states and was renamed Asia Pacific International Adventist University.
These mission experiences were filled with love for the people and a delight in being class sponsors to nursing classes graduating in 1961, 1966, 1991, and 1995. While in Thailand, Helen created and directed English, Thai, and Chinese choirs, taught conducting classes in music, gave piano lessons to the missionary children and hosted guests untiringly in their home.
After the death of Dr. Reuben Sprengel September, 2003. Helen married Mr. William Lutz, December 17, 2005, in a church wedding in the Clovis Seventh-day Adventist Church and continued to live in Fresno, California where Helen continued to serve the Fresno Central Seventh-day Adventist Church as Sabbath School Superintendent and Director of the Sanctuary Choir.
Helen is survived by two daughters, Kaye Whitney (Frank), and Jean Sprengel, MD., seven grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and nieces and nephews too numerous to count.