Elinor E. Burce, September 5, 1923 - February 9, 2019

Elinor E. Burce
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Elinor E. Burce, age 95 Town of Union passed away Saturday afternoon, February 9, 2019 at Care Partners Assisted Living in Eau Claire.

Elinor Edith (Dicke) Burce was born in Brazil on September 5, 1923, to missionary parents, Rev. Edward and Edith (Klinkenberg) Dicke. The family returned to the States in 1931 to a life of pastoral service in Minnesota. 

Elinor completed high school at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato in 1941. She then acquired secretarial and accounting qualifications at the St. Cloud Business College. She soon found employment at Trinity First Lutheran Church in Minneapolis and then at Concordia College in St. Paul, where she worked until her marriage on August 1, 1948, to seminary graduate Willard (Bill) Burce. 

Later that year, Elinor and Bill began four decades of service as missionaries of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod to (and with) the people of the mountains and coastlands of New Guinea. With strong faith, courage and love, Elinor found a full life in her multiple roles as missionary spouse, mother, homemaker, gracious host, friend, teacher, caregiver, facilitator, and source of encouragement to all, and as an unflagging witness to the saving grace of God in Christ. 

Elinor was a founder, supporter, and long-time treasurer of the Papua New Guinea Handicapped Children’s Association.  She is remembered in PNG for her groundbreaking work on behalf of children with disabilities.  During her years in Lae, she also served as office manager and training officer for several shipping agencies. 

During retirement years in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Elinor provided support and leadership to the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, and accompanied Bill on international teaching assignments in Canada, Russia, and Papua New Guinea. 

Elinor spent her closing years at Care Partners Assisted Living on Birch Street in Eau Claire. Her family wish to express appreciation to the people of Care Partners, Inclusa, and Heartland Hospice for their assistance to Elinor until her last breath on Bill’s 95th birthday on February 9, 2019. 

Elinor was preceded in death by her parents and two of her siblings, Dorothy Minke and Martin Dicke, all of whom died in a tragic train collision in 1952. She was also preceded in death by her sister, Margaret Weerts, and by her brothers Edward and Rev. Harold Dicke. 

Elinor is survived by her husband, Willard (Bill). She is also survived by her seven children: Gregory (Jan); Amy; Jerome (Nancy); Mary Burce (James) Warlick; Juliana (Brian) Tanning; Carrie (Myron) Koehn; and Charles.  She is also survived by 14 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, a brother-in- law, Edward Weerts, and by many nephews and nieces. 

Funeral service will take place at 12:00 pm (noon) on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 1915 Hogeboom Ave, Eau Claire, WI 54701 with Pastor James Whatley officiating.  Visitation will take place at the church on Saturday February 23, 2019 from 10:30 am until the time of service.  Burial will take place in the Brunswick Cemetery in the Town of Brunswick following a luncheon at the church.   

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made in Elinor’s memory to one of the following organizations: 

Lutheran Women’s Missionary League: https://lwml.givingfuel.com/donate 

Bethesda Lutheran Communities:  https://www.bethesdalc.org/get-involved/donate/ 

Papua New Guinea Mission Society: c/o Carrie Koehn, 9317 Buxton Drive, St. Louis, MO 63126 

Friends and family may offer condolences online at www.hulkefamilyfh.com.  Hulke Family Funeral Home & Cremation Services is assisting the family with the arrangements.















  1. Daniel F. McMiller February 20, 2019

    Dear Dr. Burce, Carrie, Myron, the Dicke family serving in PNG, and all those gathered,
    News of your dear wife and mother’s passing on February 9th came to me last night from Rev. Charles Ferry, Regional Director for Asia. Our hearts mourn with you at Elinor’s passing, but also rejoice in the gracious gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus our Resurrected Lord. God grant you strength to be in joyful anticipation of a reunion in heaven that knows no end.
    What a testimony of service to Christ’s church is evident in the life of this departed saint, Elinor, you, Dr. Burce, and so many of your family! Our hearts are encouraged by Elinor’s life of service, and steadfastness. We rejoice in the service that continues and the testimony of the many who your dear Elinor and Dr. Burce have impacted. Clearly many have taken this gift of life in Christ received from Dr. and Elinor Burce and passed it on to countless others. No doubt there were trials that we of the church, even many of our missionaries, cannot imagine. The history of their service should live on for us to understand that might learn together about God’s gracious presence among His people, especially in times of great trial and exemplary service in mission.
    Myron spoke to me once about some dictation of memories from you, Dr. Burce. I pray these are being recorded for the sake of many who might learn at your feet. Here also the Christ-centered legacy might go on in the testimony of the many who remember Dr. Burce and Elinor in these immediate days, but also for many days to come.
    God grant your family great comfort in this time of sorrow and celebration. Thank you very much with the honor of hearing from you and having this opportunity to respond on behalf of President Harrison, Chief Mission Officer Rev. Robson and those who serve in St. Louis on behalf of our missionaries.
    ‘Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Blessed indeed, says the Spirit. ‘that they may rest from their labors for their deeds follow them!’” Rev. 14:13
    What a blessing it is for us of the LCMS to walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before us. God grant them rest and us the grace to imitate their wisdom, integrity, humility and faithfulness. God grant you who mourn rest now in this same Gospel of forgiveness and life everlasting in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    In Him,

    Rev. Daniel F. McMiller
    The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
    Office of International Mission
    Executive Director
    Mobile: (414) 882-1530
    Office: (314) 996-1341
    Email: dan.mcmiller@lcms.org

  2. Sara Dougherty February 16, 2019

    To the entire Burce clan-my 7 cousins and my Uncle Bill.
    I am so sorry for the loss of your amazing mom and incredible wife. Aunt Elinor always impressed me as the strongest and bravest person I knew. Traveling to the unknown all those years ago, raising 7 beautiful children in New Guinea and devoting her life to her family and mission work. What an amazing lady!
    How wonderful that all the siblings are back together again! What a beautiful thought that is. I wish I could be there to say goodbye to your mom next weekend, but know that you are in my daily thoughts and prayers.
    Love, Sara

  3. Charlie and Jan Wakefield February 16, 2019

    Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family! Your Mom had an extraordinary life who touched many people and raised an amzing family!

  4. Carlton Kangas February 13, 2019

    Dr. Burce, My sympathy, and may the promise of the resurrection bring comfort and hope.


    Carlton Kangas