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Pepperdine mourns loss of Mary Drehsel, missionary to Germany


May Drehsel with husband Karl, children Susanna, Miriam, Karli and Markus and their families. (Photo provided by Pepperdine University)

Mary Drehsel, professor of German and academic coordinator for Pepperdine Universiy’s Heidelberg International Program in Germany, died Feb. 21 after a long battle with cancer.
A news release from Pepperdine details her life:

In the 1970s, Mary came to Germany as a missionary and especially worked with children at the Gemeinde Christi (Church of Christ) in Heidelberg. She became a teacher of German at Pepperdine University in 1981 and later Academic Coordinator of the Heidelberg International Program in the 1990s.
Mary was a courageous woman who bravely fought cancer for more than 18 years, she was a Christian role model to us all, a loving mother to her children and an inspiring teacher. Throughout the years, Mary touched and inspired students who came to study in Heidelberg. The outpouring of messages — in the hundreds — that have reached us all in the past hours is a testimony to the Christian life she led.

Read the news release.

  • Feedback
    Beautiful family. The family reunion in heaven will be wonderful.
    Sandy Taylor
    February, 24 2011

    Mary was a wonderful Christian woman. She was one of Clyde’s students in the 70s when he taught in the German Bible School in Heidelberg. She was one of those students who make such a positive impression, and the teacher never forgets.
    Gwen Antwine
    February, 24 2011

    Mary was a dear and saintly soul. She inspired hundreds of students, co-workers, colleagues, and friends. She blessed my life personally, and I will miss her dearly. All of us at Pepperdine University will be forever in her debt. But we rejoice in her legacy that will touch lives for generations to come! Darryl Tippens, Pepperdine University
    Darryl Tippens
    February, 25 2011

    15 of us participated in Mary’s Memorial this morning via Skype. Mary was a dear sweet deeply spiritual woman, in love with her Lord and confident in His care. Her example was impecable.
    Steve Sandifer
    February, 28 2011

    We will all miss Mary Drehsel. We trusted our most precious possessions, our young adult children, with her. Mary loved them, encouraged them and modeled Christ to them. I for one am thankful for Mary even though I did not know her well. My children and their friends at Pepperdine loved Mary’s nurture and kindness. She was part of their “talk” about Heidelberg. Her legacy of love will live on in the stories that my children tell to their own children about their experiences in Heidelberg with Mary and Pepperdine.
    Sheila Bost
    February, 28 2011

    There were 4 of us college students in 1972 who worked with Ted and Jane Ann Thomas in Heidelberg as part of Project Germany. As we talked to students at Univ of Heidelberg, taught military children in VBS, taught the German children with Mark & Sherry Woodward, Mary Bannister was truly a blessing and an inspiration! She was our fearless leader in the train trip to Bremen to visit Bill McDonough & family. She actually did what so many of us single girls wanted to do–she went back to study with the preacher boys in Heidelberg and even married one!! So grateful for the life of this sister! Blessings on her family!
    Rebecca Heffner Hedges
    February, 28 2011

    I was working with the Mission team in Vienna, Austria when Karl came home one week-end and announced to the congregation that he was getting married to a young missionary woman from Houston TX, and an Abilene Christian graduate. A few months later, Ted Thomas united them in marriage at the church in Heidelberg.

    About a year later, I went to visit the Thomases and some other friends in Heidelberg. Mary and Karl invited me to their home for Sunday lunch. Over the years, Mary and I would meet at Ladies Retreats, and other events. I visited them in Heidelberg in 1992, about the time Mary was diagnosed with the disease that finally took her home. Mary was her gracious self, wanting to know about the Lord’s church in Zagreb and how everyone was handling the stress of war.
    After moving to Abilene, I met Susanna and Miriam while they were students at ACU. They are amazing young women who have had a great Christian model, their mother.
    Mary will be sorely missed, not only by her loving husband, Karl, and her children, but Christians through out Germany. Mary’s legacy will live on for many generations to come. I’m so thankful to our Father in heaven that I was privileged to know Mary in this life and look forward to seeing her in heaven.

    Joy Crouch, Abilene TX
    March, 2 2011

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