100 Years of Service – Deaconess Florence Storck Merz

Florence Storck was born in 1914 in St. Louis, MO. She entered deaconess training at the training school in Ft. Wayne and was consecrated in June 1937. In her first call, she served at an orphan’s home in Des Peres, MO for 2 years, then accepted a call from the St. Louis City Mission Board to serve at the Koch TB Hospital in St. Louis. She was a regular lecturer on KFUO Radio for their Adventures in Faith series.

In 1945, the LDA was approached by the Executive Board of the Oregon-Washington-Idaho District LWML, asking Florence to come and speak at their convention in May 1946, as well as visit churches and societies throughout the Northwest. They had read some articles Florence had written for the Lutheran Deaconess publication and were very interested in having her speak to “stimulate our interest in this phase of mission work” and hopefully “bring some of our young girls into this profession”.

Florence was granted a brief leave of absence for this purpose and set out on May 3 for Idaho. From May 3 through May 28, she visited and spoke at 24 different places throughout Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, including the LWML Convention in Tacoma, WA, and raised nearly $1000 for the LDA. In addition, the LWML Convention voted to donate $800 to the LDA for deaconess scholarships. This travel all took place via train and personal vehicles. Florence spoke at homes, at churches, and at community centers to Sunday School children, LWML societies, pastors, and Walther League meetings.

Upon her return to St. Louis, the LDA proposed that she take occasional leaves and travel to do “publicity” for them. The St. Louis Mission Board did not want to grant these occasional leaves, so at the end of 1946, Florence left her call to accept a position as “Field Secretary” with the LDA. In this position, she would “do promotional work for the Lutheran Deaconess Cause within our Church by a godly life, by presenting our work in addresses, especially before women’s groups, by enlisting new students, by giving needed information, and in various other ways.” Florence served in this role from January through May 1947 and was given a monthly salary as well as travel assistance. This was the first time someone was tasked to do specific recruitment and development for the LDA.

Deaconess Beth Richter Boxell with the chalice from the donated communion set

Florence married the Rev. John Merz and was taken off the deaconess roster, as was the rule at the time. Also of note, Florence was the aunt of Dr. Walt Wangerin, Jr., author, and professor at Valpo, and the great-aunt of Deaconess Beth Richter Boxell. A set of communion ware, including a silver chalice, still located at the LDA, was given in Florence’s memory.

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