The Rev. Dr. Helen W. Appelberg (née Helen Marie Waller) died April 21, 2022 on Galveston Island. The beloved Episcopalian priest and chaplain was born into the Waller family in Blooming Grove, TX on September 5, 1930.
Helen graduated from John Tyler High School in 1947, Tyler Junior College in 1949, North Texas State College in 1951, and the University of Virginia with a Master of Education in Counseling in 1955. After several years of career building and travel after graduation from the University of Virginia, Helen married Carl James Appelberg, an engineer and native Dane who came to Tyler with General Electric. They relocated to New York City where Carl worked for General Electric International and Helen for the National Office of the Camp Fire Girls. GE later contracted with NASA to develop the Space Program, and in 1963 they moved to Houston. Helen opened a shop to sell Scandinavian furniture and gifts called "Shop in Denmark."
On December 23, 1966, Helen gave birth to Katrina, their only child. They traveled frequently to Denmark during Katrina’s early years. In 1978 Helen earned a Master of Education in Childhood Education and Montessori Certification from Oklahoma City University. She went on to open a Montessori School and also served as a family counselor for Southern Oklahoma’s Human Services. In 1982, Helen and Katrina returned to Houston, TX.
When Katrina started university, Helen turned her attention to a deep sense of call to the ordination in the Episcopal Church. In September of 1988 she enrolled in the Seminary of the Southwest and graduated with a Master of Religion. In June, 1989, she was ordained a Deacon at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston and in January, 1990, she was ordained an Episcopal priest. In 1994 she graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary with a Doctor of Ministry. In 1989, Helen was assigned to St. Luke's Hospital in Houston as a full-time chaplain in the Pastoral Care department. The next year she became assistant director of the department and became a full time Sunday Assistant at St. Martin's Episcopal Church where she served until her retirement in 2002. While at St. Luke’s in 1994 she founded a lay chaplain training curriculum called The Community of Hope, based on Benedictine Spirituality. Today it is the Community of Hope International, an independent entity offering training across the United States, Africa and Canada.
When Helen retired from St. Luke's in 2002, she was offered a position as Visiting Scholar at Sealy Center on Aging at UTMB in Galveston and was later appointed Director of the Center for Spirituality in Aging. She also served as chaplain and faculty member at the Iona School of Ministry of the Diocese of Texas. In 2012, she was awarded the Charles J. Cook Award for Servant Leadership by the Seminary of the Southwest. During this time, she also began an annual three-day conference at Camp Allen, “Abundant Living,” which will celebrate its 18th year in May. She served St. Augustine’s, Grace Episcopal, the William Temple Student Center and Trinity during her vibrant years in Galveston and was an active member of the Rotary Club of Galveston.
Helen is survived by her daughter, Katrina Marie, son-in-law, Scott, her three grandchildren, Chase, Kirsten Elisabeth, Max Carl, and great-grandson, Theodore Carl.
Those wishing to make memorial contributions should make them to Trinity Episcopal Church-Galveston, Camp Allen, St. Vincent’s House, or charity of their choice.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 11, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2216 Ball Avenue, Galveston, Texas 77550 with The Rt. Rev. Jeff Fischer and The Rev. Susan Kennard officiating.
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