Helen Marie VanDyne Bolerjack Norcross
Helen Marie VanDyne was born on August 21, 1928, to Harry and Florence (Kennedy) VanDyne in Harmony Valley, Drum Creek Township, Montgomery County Kansas, between the towns of Cherryvale and Independence. She was the 7th of 10 children, having 5 sisters and 4 brothers. She and her siblings attended the one-room schoolhouse at the other end of the lane, and later went to high school in Independence.
Harry and Florence were godly parents, and eventually they began attending and supporting the Church of the Nazarene in Independence, Kansas. It was at that church that Helen met and came to fall in love with Raymond Lee Bolerjack. In 1948, after he had served in the Merchant Marines and then in the Army at the end of World War II, they were married.
They both earned degrees at Northwest Nazarene College in Nampa, Idaho, he in English and she in nursing. They then travelled to Kansas City where Ray completed his 2nd degree at Nazarene Theological Seminary and Helen worked as a nurse. It was also in Kansas City that their son Jerry (married to MaryJo Jenkins) was born and their first daughter, Linda (married to David Mealiff).
After Ray graduated from seminary, they travelled to Prosser, Washington for their first pastorate, and later to Ephrata Washington for their second. While in Ephrata, their second daughter Beth (married to Robert Donaldson) was born. During their time in Washington, Helen worked as a Registered Nurse in local hospitals. Their next move was to Cleveland Oklahoma to pastor the Nazarene church there.
During his military tour in Japan, Ray felt a calling to missionary service. Helen felt no specific call to missions, but always maintained her willingness and desire to assist Ray wherever he was led. They applied to the Church of the Nazarene to serve, but it was not until after the move to Cleveland that the General Board interviewed and appointed them to be missionaries to The Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
Ray always maintained that the real reason they were appointed was because the church wanted Helen for her medical expertise, and he just came along as an extra. Whether or not that was true, Helen was immediately thrust into the role of being the sole provider of medical care for thousands of people in the area of Kudjip, where the main mission station was located. Trained and licensed as an RN, she quickly learned how to sew up battle wounds, diagnose and treat tropical diseases, and deliver babies. Oh, and to pull teeth.
Two years later, after a doctor arrived and more nurses came, the hospital was built. Helen served as the head nurse for several years. Later, she supervised the medical care in the Jimi Valley, a more remote area. She and Ray spent time as “house parents” for missionary kids who were away at boarding school. And she taught health care and other classes to future pastors and their wives at the Bible College.
After retirement, Helen and Ray bought the house and farmland where she was born and raised. They were married for forty-nine and a half years, until Ray succumbed to cancer in 1998. Together they had 16 grandchildren which they enjoyed immensely: Julie, Pamela, Erin, Sarah Jean, Nathan, Daniel, Katie, Timothy, Sydney, Kimberly, Marcus, Elsie, RJ, Heidi, Eric, and Tirzah. Helen had 13 great-grandchildren, with one more on the way.
In 1999, Helen was blessed with a new husband, J.D. Norcross, Sr., who provided much needed support and companionship in her golden years. They were married for seventeen and a half years. J.D. brought three sons to the marriage, J.D. Jr. (married to Lea Larson), George (married to Mary Rose Waiter), and James (married to Julia Bjorgaard), and more grandchildren, 16 more in fact. They are: Sarah, John, Kate and Libby (twins), Mamie, David, Andrew, Maggie, Peter, Willy, James, Valerie, J.D. III, Benjamin, Amanda, Timothy. J.D. also had 5 great-grandchildren.
Ray and Helen were very active in service to their home church, First Church of the Nazarene. J.D. and Helen continued that commitment to serve the church with much of their time and resources. Helen served for many years as president of the local missionary society. Helen is survived by two sisters, Frances Whitehorn and June Brannum, and by all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be on Thursday, Oct. 7 from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at the First Church of the Nazarene, 3167 S 10th ST, Independence, KS 67301. The casket will be closed at the end of visitation.
Burial will precede the funeral service, to be attended by family and missionary family members.
The funeral will be on Friday, Oct. 8 at 11:00 am at the First Church of the Nazarene, 3167 S 10th ST, Independence, KS 67301.
Friends wishing to contribute to a memorial fund benefitting the Kudjip Nazarene Hospital and the Nazarene Bible College in Papua New Guinea can write their check to First Church of the Nazarene and note that it is for the Helen Norcross Memorial Fund. Checks can be mailed to the church (address above) or to Wickham Family Funeral Home at 216 East 4th Street, Cherryvale, KS 67335.