LCMS Deaconess Biographies Project

Bio of Mary Elaine (nee Kluge) Prueter

Some of the historic photos or documents submitted by Mr. Richard Preuter about his mother can be seen by clicking on the blue links.

  1. Name: Mary Elaine (nee Kluge) Prueter
  2. Address: 935 Sunnybeach Blvd., White Lake, Michigan 48386-2079
  3. Email: xxxxxxx@xxxxxx.com
  4. Telephone: (248) 698-2278
  5. DOB: 01/16/1927. I was born at St. Mary's Hospital in East St. Louis, Illinois
    DOD: July 13, 2012 - Died at DMC Huron Valley Hospital. Buried in VA National Cemetery - Holly, Michigan.
  6. Date of Baptism: 02/20/1927. I was baptized at my home church - Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Collinsville, Illinois
  7. Date of Confirmation: 03/17/1940. I was confirmed at my home church - Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Collinsville, Illinois on St. Patrick's Day which was also Palm Sunday.
  8. Parents: Mother - Emma (nee Schroeppel) Kluge. Father - Henry C. Kluge
  9. Ancestry:
    1. Grand-father Adam Schroeppel studied under CFW Walther in St. Louis. After the ministry he became a Judge in Collinsville. He died before my parents marriage.
    2. Her mother prayed in German
    3. Her father would not pray or speak in German after World War 2.
    4. Both parents were born here in the United States.
    5. The picture of the "Kluge Stained Glass of John" was given to my home church by my Father and his brother John.
    6. The pictures of the "Schroeppel Stained Glass" were given from my mothers side of the family.
    7. Both the Kluge's and Schroeppel's were quite predominate in Collinsville. (see news article of my Father and Uncle in business for 50 years at the time of the article (see picture of the news article - Kluge Brothers Article 1 & 2) where my father and uncle owned a hardware, gutter and coal furnace business. My father and uncle were involved in many business related items from helping to build the Miners Theater (see picture of Miners Theater), to the building and loan, to civic work as Firemen, Fire Chief (got first fire truck for Collinsville), they were part owners the local newspaper & Chester Knitting Mills, were on the board of directors for the bank, alderman for the third ward, etc. The Schroeppel side owned a fine funeral home (see picture of Schroeppel Funeral Home) and had a famous doctor in the town (no picture of his house), and of course, my Grandfather Schroeppel studied under Walther and then became a Judge.
    8. My mother was actively involved in the Ladies Aide guild and LWML at Holy Cross. Mother sang and soloed in the church choir, prepare chicken dinner in October and a sausage supper for the public in Feb., She was involved in the Collinsville Music Club and during the Great Depression, provided food for people out of her back door of her house.
    9. Collinsville, Illinois where I grew up is located approx. 12 miles east of St. Louis. This town is known for several items.
      1. The Cahokia Mounds: Place of the largest Indian civilization in North America. (see picture Cahokia Mounds 2)
      2. Brooks Ketchup Bottle - (see picture Brooks Ketchup) the largest ketchup bottle in the country.
      3. Collinsville is the world's largest producer of Horse Radish.
      4. Collinsville was known for its coal mines.
      5. Collinsville is located on Route 66
    Home Life:
    1. Holy Cross Lutheran Church was my home church. (see picture Holy Cross Lutheran Church)
    2. During Christmas, we would not put up the tree until Christmas Eve. A sheet was placed in front of the area so I could not see it as my mother decorated it. I would get to see it on Christmas Day.
    3. Christmas Eve service was a very important time for me. I loved the service the most. We had a children's program where I had a part to memorize and we would get presents from our teachers after the service.
    4. We had no radios turned on or TV on Good Friday.
    5. I went to Holy Cross School (as did my mother) until I was in the 8th grade and then went to Collinsville, High School (see picture of Collinsville High School).
    6. For my confirmation, I was examined by the whole congregation 1 week prior to being confirmed. I had my first communion. I wore a white gown. I then had dinner at my house for Family members. My Confirmation Text was: Luke 10:42. This was also used for her funeral.
    7. In church the men and women sat separately. Men took communion first and then the women. We had German Services until the break out of World War 2.
    8. I used to love to play Sunday School with my dolls.
    9. The actual Sunday School was taught by dedicated teachers following the Concordia Series w/pictures on front of the sheet. We had graded memory courses and memorized passages, then the commandments and then hymns.
    10. My parents were kind and loving Christian parents who became my role models.
  10. Early Youth:
    1. Collinsville is a small town just east of St. Louis. It is a farming community that was a beautiful place to grow up in. It has some famous venues as well.
    2. For transportation we would walk into town, take a bus or drive in my cousin's car.
    3. I loved my church and school. My day school and Sunday School teachers were exceptional. Ms. Bohland in the 1st Grade - influenced all the children's lives she served.
    4. Mr. Evers was my 5th and 6th grade teacher. He was my favorite, and was also the Sunday School Superintendant.
    5. My favorite memories of childhood were: The children's Christmas Eve service where I had a piece to say. We would get small bags of nuts, fruit and candy afterwards.
    6. My friend Janice Wilhelm was a true friend to me.
    7. We had a little club where we worked on embroidering quilt squares.
    8. One of the people who truly influenced me was Pastor Theodore Roschke. He helped me in my decision to become a deaconess. I spoke to him about either being a deaconess or a nurse. I loved his preaching and teaching.
    9. I heard a missionary lady speak to a group during this time and that affected me.
    10. In 1942 I joined the LWML at its founding. Our pastor at the time came to myself and 2 other girls and asked us to join it.
  11. Young Adulthood:
    1. I attended Valparaiso from 1945 thru 1946. I went on an internship (we called it field work back then) to New York City - Metropolitan Lutheran Inner City Mission and then came back for class work from 1947 - 1948. (see picture for Valpo Class & Valpo Report Card)
    2. I was on a special accelerated Deaconess course that at the time was created for people returning from World Ward II. This was a 2 year course with 1 year field work. There was also a 4 year degree course that came out shortly thereafter, but I choose the 2 year course to my blessing.
    3. I was Consecrated as a Deaconess at my home church (Holy Cross Lutheran Church) in Collinsville, Ill. on September 12, 1948. You can see me wearing the gray outfit here as opposed to the navy outfit in later pictures. Our Arm Patch Cross was also different than today. (see picture of Mom Deaconess Installation 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & Moms Arm Patch & Consecration Article).
    4. Metropolitan Lutheran Inner City Mission was located in the Times Square & Hells Kitchen area. During my internship and time there as a consecrated Deaconess, I did the following:
      1. Each day I started out by singing the Hymn "With the Lord begin thy Task"
      2. Worked in conjunction with New York City Schools for a "Released Time" (see picture Released Time). Here kids were released early from school to attend spiritual classes.
      3. I visited the sick on Welfare Island (Now Roosevelt Island) @ the Bird S. Coler Hospital primarily. I held church services here, bible studies and visited with the sick and mentally ill. This became a large following with many volunteers. I also occasionally visited the Jamaica Hospital in Queens.
      4. Performed home shut in visitations. Many of the homes we went to had bugs running around. I was afraid to take off my coat some of time. - (see picture of Mom Making Calls).
      5. Worked with our "Open House" program. This was held in the evenings over at St. Luke's. This would include items like devotions, snacks and craft projects. We did things with them such as take them to the rodeo, and the Barnum Bailey Circus at Madison Square Gardens. We also took the needy children to places like Long Island State Park and to Lutheran Camp which was at Luther Land in Penn. (see picture of Inner City Mission & Open House Program & Open House Counselors).
      6. Ellis Island - every six months we conduct the protestant services at the island. The picture attached is where there used to be a room where we held the services to the right. This was for immigrants. I played the piano for these services.(see picture of Ellis Island).
      7. Wrote to young women looking to go into Deaconess work. I was asked to do this by the Lutheran Deaconess Association. (see picture of Letter to Barbara Hedden 1, 2 & 1, 2).
      8. I created and led the Seasonal Christian Cheer Program for the less fortunate where we gave out presents at Christmas to the needy.
      9. Public Speaking at various Ladies Clubs and the occasional Men's Club, recruiting for Deaconess Work and at Youth Christian Vocational Rallies. (see picture of committee on student recruitment).
      10. Involved in Conscration Rites for other Deaconess's. (see picture of The Lutheran Deaconess 2).
      11. Meeting Missionaries - The Lutheran Immigration Service would from time to time meet and make arrangements missionaries returning for furlough or leaving for a foreign field and ask me to help and meet them at the docks. I was able to go onboard of many famous ships like the United States, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and the Normandy as well as some Norwegian Line ships. I also showed them around the city as well as some of the immigrants that we worked with. (see picture of mom in park & Mom and Mona Lisa).
      12. Working with local families who are discouraged or disabled. Providing to the people in the community things that they need like eye glasses.
      13. I wrote articles for the Wather League, Deaconess Day and the Lutheran Deaconess magazines. (see picture of Wather League Messenger 1 & 2, The Lutheran Deaconess 4 & 5).
      14. I stared in the first Deaconess on TV campaign. For this, a board member acted as a homeless person that I interviewed. (see picture of The Lutheran Deaconess 3 & Deaconess on TV NYC).
      15. Teaching Sunday school was a given. (see picture of Mom Teaching Sunday School.).
      16. Played the piano at the mission.
      17. Used Mom for recruiting and advertising. See 40th anniversary of the Deaconess Program. She is in the top right of picture 3 (see picture of 40th Anniversary Deaconess Assoc 1, 2, 3, 4).
      18. VBS
      19. I met the son of a Brahmin Priest from India. He was referred by one of our missionaries. I took him around the city and made sure he got on the right train to Pennsylvania. In thanks, he gave me a set of ivory beads.
    5. Places of Service within the LCMS:
      1. New York City - Metropolitan Lutheran Inner City Mission from years: 1946- 1947 & 1948 - 1956 & 1958 - 1961(see picture of Inner Mission News 1 & 2 & Inner City Mission).
      2. New York City - Trinity Lutheran Church - Lower East Side - This is where I did my parish work and played the organ. We also had a soup kitchen. From years: 1956 - 1958 & 1961 - 1963 (part-time the last 2 years) (see picture of Original Trinity & New Trinity 1 & 2 and Installation at Trinity 1, 2, 3).
      3. Over my time in NYC, I received calls for Washington, D. C., St. Louis, Missouri and for India. I turned all of these down but have wondered through the years where these would have taken me and how the Lord would have used my service. (see picture of additional articles).
      4. Waterford, Mi. - Peace Lutheran Church - Here I played the organ, was music director, choir director, helped with bible studies, Ladies Group President, VBS, devotional leader, counseled the various pastors and created and ran a worship committee. From years: 1964 - 1987(see picture of dad and mom at Peace & Peace Lutheran Church).
      5. White Lake, Mi. - Cedar Crest Lutheran Church - Here I played the organ, was music & choir director, wrote 5 years worth of services during vacancies, devotional leader, helped my son with his services and sermons when he preached, lead bible studies and was counselor to the various pastors. From years: 1987 - 2011(see picture of Cedar Crest and mom cc).
    6. Other Places of Service:
      1. Lutheran Women's Missionary League - In NYC I was the First Vice President of the Atlantic District and President of the Manhattan Zone. In Pontiac, Michigan, I was the President of the Pontiac Zone.
        President Manhattan Zone - Late 1950's - 1962
        1st VP Atlantic District - 1962 - 1963
        President Pontiac Michigan Zone (2 years) - In late 1970's
        Michigan District Long Range Planning Committee - (see picture of Pontiac Zone LWML & LWML Atlantic District 1st VP & LWML First VP).
      2. Wather League
      3. Mary Martha's Group (Similar to LWML)
    7. Synodical Membership: Always Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
    8. Professional Life:
      1. Greatest Joy of being a Deaconess
      2. Women of the Year at Cedar Crest Lutheran Church (see picture of woman of the year & Mary Elaine woman of the year).
      3. Music & Choir Director
      4. Officer in multiple LWML areas - (see picture of moms book).
    9. Secular and Ecclesiastical Offices:
    10. In Retrospect:
      By Mary Elaine before her death -

      "For a small town girl going to NYC was a big deal. However, I loved my years there and the opportunity to do the Lord's work. I particularly enjoyed speaking opportunities in the LWML. My retirement came when I started to raise a family and had some health issues that hindered my work. Looking ahead the Deaconess program today has the advantage of good education at the seminary or other places. However I am of the opinion, when in any vocation or personal life, spreading ourselves too thin could hinder the work of the Lord. In looking back on NY and the work there, these were the most wonderful experiences I had coming from a small town. The encouragement of Pastor Roschke and of Rev. A. Krentz (Head of the Deaconess Program at that time) were very important to me over the years.

      From Mary Elaine's Obituary -

      "By God's grace and mercy, I was privileged to know the deepest blessings of a Christian Home, loving and caring Christian parents during childhood and a dedicated pastor and teachers in my home congregation; the love of a Christian helpmeet and three very dear sons, two daughters in-law, 3 grandchildren, the attending joys of motherhood and grand-parenting; the special joys of a full-time and volunteer ministry with dedicated Christian co-workers in God's Kingdom and special Christian friends. Above all, I knew the love and saving grace of my gracious God. TO HIM ALONE BE ALL PRAISE AND GLORY!!! AMEN, ALLELUIA!!!"

    11. Family:
      1. Husband Theodore Prueter. We were married in NYC at Trinity Lutheran Church (where I did my parish work and Ted was a paid church worker). We were married 52 years. (see picture of Engagement Picture, Best Man and Female, Mom and Dad at Trinity, renewing vows 50th annv).
      2. Son - William and Wife Linda
      3. Son Timothy and Wife Kim with 3 Grand-Children - Andrew, David and Emily
      4. Son - Richard
    12. Any Other Thoughts or Comments:

      The final thoughts are from Mary Elaine's son Richard. My mother passed away on July 13, 2012 and I promised I would finish this for her.

      My mother was a deeply religious person who showed the love and grace of our Lord through everything that she did. Her love for the Lord was inspiring to see. She instilled a deep love in me for our Lord that has seen me through the very toughest points in my life. People looked up to her and she was highly thought of and always the first to be asked a spiritual question not only from fellow believers, but from many in the clergy. She promoted daily devotions and prayer as she lived her life in service of our Lord. She never wanted or expected any praise and rarely spoke about all the wonderful things she did as a Deaconess. She will never know just how many lives she touched not only while before she retired in 1961, but since then by her gentle and kind words and actions.

      I praise the Lord that he blessed me and gave me my mother as a mother, mentor and best friend! Her life, is a testament to our Risen Lord!

    13. Other Sources:
      1. See attached photos of letters, documents, term papers from Valpo, Deaconess booklets, calls and correspondence, poem about me, bylaws, consecration rites, sermon for my installation, etc..