In 1923, the county of Waupaca, Wisconsin had a population of somewhere between 330 and 334. The population of Matteson Township within Waupaca County wasn’t even listed in 1923. On July 23 of that year Helen Ruth Lunz increased the population by one in Matteson Township. She was born to Ruth Myrtle and Freeman Charles Lunz, the second of six daughters. Helen grew up in Clintonville, Wisconsin six miles from where she was born and 77 miles west of Green Bay. Her parents were dairy farmers. Helen did mostly indoor work on the farm, cooking, cleaning, canning food, washing clothes and helping care for her younger sisters. Her outdoor responsibilities included planting, weeding and harvesting the garden. Her sisters did the work with the cows along with their father.
Helen began her education in Clintonville Public Schools where she attended for four years until she was 10 years old. Then she attended the local Seventh-day Adventist church-school; today known as elementary school. It was there, Helen said, that a very dedicated teacher “instilled in her a desire to do her part in finishing God’s work.” Later while attending Bethel Academy she was impressed by God that she should be a church-school teacher. She remembered while waiting with the younger children to play her violin in a Christmas program she had the thought, “I love these children. I believe God has called me to be a teacher. I will be a teacher, a church-school teacher.”
After graduating from Bethel she went to college in the not so bubbling metropolis of Berrien Springs, Michigan at Emmanuel Missionary College (EMC), now Andrews University, “to prepare to become a teacher.” While at EMC she met the young man “who was to fulfill the rest of her childhood dream” to be the “wife of a minister.” She graduated in 1943 with a two-year elementary teacher course. She taught grades 1 – 8 at Clear Lake, Wisconsin for one year.
On June 14, 1944 Helen married L. Wayne Hyde aka Wayne Hyde. Then she taught school for one year in Benton Harbor, Michigan while Wayne finished his Ministerial Course at EMC. The following fall they both taught school in Muskegon, Michigan. The next 18 years Helen spent raising their four children and assisting Wayne in his pastoral duties in towns in upper-lower Michigan. Then their lives took a drastic change.
“Mrs. Wayne Hyde please come to the President’s office,” came the voice over the loud speaker at the Michigan Camp Meeting in summer 1964. Two days before Wayne and Helen had left their home in Onaway, Michigan heading for Adventist Camp Meeting in Grand Ledge, Michigan along with their four children. Wayne had not been feeling well for several weeks, so they stopped to see his doctor along the way, and he was immediately put in the hospital in Petoskey. The President of the Michigan conference, Elder Wilson, had learned that Wayne’s legs were paralyzed from the knees down due to necrotizing arteritis caused by medications for rheumatoid arthritis. His situation was very grave so it was arranged that Helen and two ministers would fly to Petoskey to pray for and anoint Wayne. When Helen arrived at the hospital the doctor called her into his office and told her that Wayne had less than a month to live. Helen would not believe it. After the anointing, Helen returned to Camp Meeting to be with her children and Wayne remained in the hospital.
When Camp Meeting ended she drove back to Petoskey and to the hospital. She met with the doctor and asked if it “would do any good for Wayne to go to the University Hospital in Ann Arbor. He replied, “I graduated from Ann Arbor a year ago, and they can’t do anything more than I can do. Your husband is going to die.” She told him, “Jesus healed people in Bible times, and He can do it now. I don’t know what is going to happen, but it is going to be one of two things. Either God will heal my husband, or He will give me the strength to raise my four children by myself.” After some contemplation he said, “I think he should go to Ann Arbor. I’ll give you directions.” That day Helen took Wayne and the two youngest children, Jeanette and Elwyn, back to Onaway. The next morning she drove to Ann Arbor with Wayne lying in the back seat and the two children in the front seat. Wayne remained in the University hospital for five weeks while Helen and the children stayed with Helen’s sister, Ardyce, in her one room apartment. Ardyce was teaching at the Ann Arbor Adventist School where Jeanette and Elwyn attended during Wayne’s hospitalization.
A few months later after spending the winter in Winter Haven, Florida, Wayne recovered use of his legs and Helen became the only source of income for the next four years. During that time she taught one year in the Midland Adventist elementary school and then was hired as a teacher at the Jackson Adventist elementary school in the fall of 1966. While teaching, Helen took numerous extension courses, correspondence studies and attended several summers at Andrews University. She graduated with a BS in Elementary Education in 1971. During this time she had two children, Jeanette and Elwyn, in elementary school, one child, Christine, in academy, and the oldest, Karen, at Andrews University. Wayne was hired as a Social Worker by the Michigan Department of Social Services in 1969, where he worked for 22 years. Helen continued teaching at the Jackson school, going to summers school at Andrews to renew her Teacher’s Certification and receiving a MAT in 1979. Helen taught full time for 17.5 years. Fourteen of those years were at Jackson. Additionally, there were years of music classes and substitute teaching.
Besides teaching, being a mother and wife, through the years, Helen coincidently held many church offices: church treasurer (30 years for the Jackson church), assistant treasurer for five years, school treasurer for five years, Community Services director for four years, Personal Ministries secretary, Kindergarten leader for five years, Primary leader for 11 years as well as Junior Division Sabbath School leader. She ran the fruit and the Meijer coupon programs for years raising money for Christian Education. Helen tirelessly pursued a Christian education for the children of the Jackson community who wanted to attend the Jackson Seventh-day Adventist Elementary school. Prior to moving to Jackson she had been treasurer of three Michigan churches as well as being the pastor’s wife. She said, “I love being church treasurer and making sure our church and school are financially sound. I pray for the many children I have had in church school and Sabbath School. I pray that we will all meet together around God’s great white throne and we will sing His praises together in the beautiful home he is preparing for us.”
Helen wrote in her memorial notes, “I have always loved God, but I came to know God when I was in church school, I prayed that He would wash away my sins and make me a new creature. The day I was baptized in a river was one of the happiest days of my life. I was now a member of God’s family willing to bear the responsibilities. Through the years since that day I have been happy to lay my plans before God, trusting in His guidance. I know that God never leads His children other than we would choose to be led could we see the end from the beginning. He had led me every step of my life. Praise the Lord.”
Helen was most thankful “for her four lovely children all Seventh-day Adventist members.” They are: Karen Simpson, Christine Herr, Jeanette Teller and Elwyn Hyde, all graduates of Andrews University. She is grandmother to 11 and great-grandmother to 20. Wayne passed away on July 6, 1995. Helen lived in Jackson, Michigan for 50 years. As she got to the age where her eyesight was failing and therefore she needed more assistance she was cared for alternatively in the homes of Karen and Maurice Simpson in Nashville, Tennessee and Jeanette and Doug Teller in Centerville, Ohio. She eventually moved into an Assisted Living facility in Miamisburg, Ohio called Sycamore Glen on October 31, 2017 under the watchful, careful loving eye of Jeanette and Doug. She remained at Sycamore Glen until March 23, 2021 when she needed more care than assisted living could provide. Helen then moved to Collegedale, Tennessee into The Lantern at Morning Pointe where she received more tender and watchful care from Karen and Maurice. She passed to her rest on April 19, 2021 at 8:47am. Now she sleeps until that great resurrection morning when her Lord and Savior, Jesus, will take her to heaven saying, “Well done, my dear and faithful servant!”
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