VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 9/5/06)-Helen Elizabeth Gaskill, who retired after 35 years of service as a missionary in medical technology in Belgian Congo/Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), died August 19, 2006, at the age of 89. She was born January 12, 1917 in Collingdale, Pennsylvania.
Helen was trained as a laboratory and x-ray technician. In 1938, she earned a B.S. in Bacteriology from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science. She received the title of Agent Sanitaire after study at the Prince Leopold Medical Institute in Antwerp, Belgium. She also received a certificate in Laboratory Training and Development at the Communicable Disease Center of the U.S. Public Health Department in Atlanta, Georgia. She studied for six months in Switzerland at the Center for Blood Transfusions operated by the Swiss Red Cross. Prior to her appointment, Helen served for six years on the medical staff at the Presbyterian Center for American Indians in Ganado, Arizona.
Helen was appointed on March 19, 1946, by the Woman's American Baptist Foreign Mission Society with designation to the Belgian Congo (Zaire). She sailed for Zaire on September 30, 1946 and worked at the Sona Bata Mission Hospital in improving and expanding the laboratory facilities there that made it possible for the hospital to greatly extend its work. She also taught at the medical school attached to the hospital.
The last years of her term of service were spent at the Institut Medical Evangelique Hospital (IME), the interdenominational medical center at Kimpese. While there, she helped establish and equip a new diagnostic laboratory and also conducted a pilot laboratory course for Zairian technicians which grew into what is now an official four-year course graduating highly skilled laboratory technicians.
As director of the Clinical Diagnostic Laboratory at the IME Hospital, she offered vital assistance to doctors in making accurate diagnoses and prescribing patient treatment. In connection with her work as instructor for the Laboratory Training Program and the School of Nursing, Helen prepared suitable textbook materials, including books on parasitology and clinical chemistry. Through her service in the laboratory and as a teacher, she found expression for her deep Christian commitment and concern.
After her retirement, she moved to Moundsville, West Virginia where she developed a small farm along with her friend Edith Thompson. They planted fruit trees, a large garden, a small vineyard, and managed a herd of cattle. She became a member of the Limestone Presbyterian Church, Limestone, West Virginia. In 1996 she became an Ordained Elder and an Ordained Deacon. She was also involved in being Chairperson of Outreach Committee, Sunday School Teacher, and Relief of family care given for chronically ill or terminally ill people.
She is survived by her soul sister: Edith M. Thompson of Moundsville WV. Funeral arrangements entrusted to Grisell Funeral Home & Crematory, 400 Jefferson Avenue, Moundsville, WV 26041.
Andrew C. Jayne American Baptist Churches, USA Mission Resource Development http://www.abc-usa.org/