Irena Liechty Sprunger, 94, of Berne passed away on Thursday, May 2, 2013. The third of twelve children, she was born on October 1, 1918 to Amos and Della (Nussbaum) Liechty.
Following her graduation from Monroe High School in 1936, she worked at Berne Overall and Shirt and at Economy Printing where she ran one of four Linotypes. She was a member of the First Mennonite Church in Berne.
Hearing the call to be a missionary in Africa, she attended Grace Bible Institute in Omaha, Nebraska, graduating in 1949, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Goshen College in 1952. Additional study was in Brussells where she studied French for a year. In 1953, she arrived in the Belgian Congo where she served as director of the primary school and printing press and started the Home Economics School for Girls for the Congo Inland Mission (now Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission) in Charlesville. Following the evacuation of all Congo missionaries to Angola in 1960, she returned to the capital city of Leopoldville to manage the large printing press that supported all Protestant missions in Congo.
In June 22, 1962, she married missionary colleague Vernon Sprunger in Berne. They returned to Zaire and worked for nine more years before retiring in 1972 in Berne. Following his death in 1980, she was invited to join the pastoral staff at First Mennonite Church of Berne and served for thirteen years as assistant to the minister of visitation until she retired in 1994.
She is survived by two sisters, Leona (Phil) Neuenschwander; and Grace Herman; four step-children, Charles (Geraldine) Sprunger of Trappe, Pennsylvania; Wilmer (Kenlyn) Sprunger of Berne; Jeannette (Thomas) Bechtel of Goshen; and Shirley (Vernon) King of Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania; thirteen grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents; five sisters, Vera Gerber; Marcella Scholl; Esther Neuenschwander; and infants Justine and Ernestine; four brothers, Grover, Irvin, Ernie, and Amos; and one grandson.
Visitation will be from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 9 at Swiss Village in Berne and one hour prior to the 10:30 a.m. funeral service on May 10 at the First Mennonite Church. Officiating will be Pastor Jerry A. Flueckiger. Burial will be at MRE Cemetery in Berne.
Memorials may be made to Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission, PO Box 744, Goshen, IN 46527-0744.
Arrangements provided by Yager-Kirchhofer Funeral Home in Berne. Sign the guest book online at www.yagerkirchhofer.com.