Mrs. Helen Benigsen, 86, wife of the late Mitred Archpriest George M. Benigsen, fell asleep in the Lord here on Thursday, July 15, 2004.
Born Helen Ivanovna Kraubler, she married the future Father Benigsen in Estonia in 1937. Both had been active in the Russian Christian Student Movement. In the early 1940s, the Benigsens relocated to Riga, Latvia, where he was ordained to the holy priesthood. Shortly thereafter they moved to Pskov, Russia, which at the time was under German occupation, where under extremely harsh conditions they organized a school for 200 students and an orphanage for 40 children who had lost their parents in the war.
In 1944, the Benigsens fled to Germany, where they ministered to the growing number of displaced persons. By sheer miracle, they avoided compulsory repatriation to the Soviet Union, as the secretary of the American commandant at that time was a schoolmate of Father Benigsen. For the next two years they ministered in various displaced persons’ camps, until he was appointed to Saint Seraphim Church at the Home of Mercy in Munich.
In November 1950, the Benigsens arrived in the US. Two months later they were assigned to Saint John the Baptist Church, Berkeley, CA. In December 1951, Father Benigsen was appointed Dean of San Francisco’s Holy Trinity Cathedral. In February 1960, the Benigsens were transferred to Holy Transfiguration Church, Denver, CO, where Mrs. Benigsen organized a choir and assisted in strengthening the life of the parish. In 1964, they were transferred to Berkeley, CA, where they organized an Orthodox student center and a chapel dedicated to Saint Joseph of Arimathea. Subsequently, they were transferred to Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral, New York, NY in 1967; Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, Montreal, PQ, Canada, in 1968; and Saint Nicholas Church, Saratoga, CA in 1970. In every instance, Mrs. Benigsen served as choir director and assisted with educational and camping programs. In 1980, they were reassigned to Holy Trinity Cathedral, which Father Benigsen served until his retirement the following year.
In retirement, the Benigsens served Holy Assumption Monastery, Calistoga, CA, until Father Benigsen’s death in 1993.
His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of Berkeley, presided at funeral services at Holy Trinity Cathedral, San Francisco, CA on Tuesday, July 20, 2004.
May Mrs. Benigsen’s memory be eternal!