HONOLULU, Hawaii — LuVerne Ethel (Engelbrecht) Buchele, 98, a longtime resident of Honolulu, Hawaii, and formerly of Illinois, Virginia, Indiana and California, died gracefully Tuesday, March 12, 2019, at Hale Nohea Adult Residential Care Home in Honolulu.
LuVerne was born Sept. 21, 1920, on the family farm near Onarga, Iroquois County, Ill., to Bernhard H. P. and Frieda C. M. (Seggebruch) Engelbrecht. She was the second of four children. She married U.S. Navy World War II veteran Robert B. Buchele on Oct. 6, 1950, in Graham Taylor Chapel of the Chicago Theological Seminary, at center of the University of Chicago campus. They had three children, Brad, Bette and Jill.
In the tradition of her German ancestors, LuVerne was a Lutheran. During her youth, she was confirmed at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Buckley, by the Rev. Christian Braeunig. Later, she was a member of Calvary by the Sea ELCA Lutheran Church in Honolulu. During the primary grades, she attended class at Prairie Dell School, a rural one-room schoolhouse in Iroquois County. She graduated from Watseka Community High School, Watseka, in 1938.
Having been awarded a four-year college scholarship by the Illinois General Assembly, LuVerne graduated from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana in 1942, with a Bachelor of Science with high honors, in Education and German. She was a member of Alpha Lambda Delta national honorary society. Following her World War II military service, in 1947, she earned an Artium Magister degree from the University of Chicago. Subsequently, she was employed as a teacher in Illinois, Indiana and California public schools.
During World War II and prior to marriage, LuVerne E. Engelbrecht worked as a “Rosie the Riveter,” in aviation manufacturing. In 1944, she enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps, a branch of the U.S. Army known as the WACs, which Gen. Douglas MacArthur famously lauded as, “my best soldiers,” adding, “they worked harder, complained less, and were better disciplined than men.” As a WAC, LuVerne attained the rank of TEC 4, which was equivalent to that of sergeant.
Following training at Wright-Patterson Fields in Ohio, LuVerne was assigned to the 2nd Signal Service Battalion, Arlington Hall Station, in Virginia. There, she joined the ranks of the fabled “Code Girls,” who behind locked doors broke encrypted enemy communications, an essential contribution towards the Allied Victory that ended World War II. Honorably discharged in 1946, she was awarded the World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Ribbon and Good Conduct Medal. Ordered to secrecy for 50 years, LuVerne did not reveal her wartime activity as a Cryptanalysis Technician for half a century. She truly deserved her place of honor amongst The Greatest Generation.
The Buchele family traveled extensively, accompanying Dr. Robert B. Buchele, Professor of Management, University of Hawaii-Manoa, during his many excursions as a visiting professor at both domestic and foreign universities. LuVerne was devoted to her family. She selflessly gave many hours as a faculty wife, a volunteer at schools and for the Girl Scouts. She was also a stalwart and active advocate for the prevention of cruelty to rodeo animals, especially opposing the use of bucking straps.
LuVerne was talented musically, having taught herself to play both piano and ukelele. While in the military, she studied voice and in song, possessed a lovely, clear soprano. She once performed “Un bel di vedremo” from Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly, for recovering troops at a military hospital near Washington, D.C. Even through her last year, she often broke into song, with such favorites as “Edelweiss.” She also enjoyed diverse activities, such as reading, cooking, sewing and gardening. In earlier years, swimming in the Pacific Ocean along the Honolulu coast with Robert was a daily activity.
LuVerne is survived by her daughter, Bette K. Buchele of Honolulu; a grandson, Keith A. (Janice M. Okimoto) Boychuk of Honolulu; a son-in-law, Dr. Rodney B. Boychuk of Honolulu; a sister, Jeanette C. Engelbrecht (Dr. Walter W.) Whisler of Wilmette; and many nephews, nieces and cousins, all of the U.S. mainland. Local nieces are Penelope J. Engelbrecht and Heidi J. Engelbrecht (Gerald J.) Sobkowiak of Granville.
LuVerne was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Robert B. Buchele, 2008; a son, Brad L. Buchele, 1959; a daughter, Jill R. Buchele-Boychuk, 1993; a sister, Margie C. T. (Engelbrecht) Benoit, 1997; and locally, a brother, Kenneth W. Engelbrecht, 2003, and his wife, Helen Marie (Hawthorne) Engelbrecht, 2017.
Cremation rites have been accorded. A private service, with military honors, and inurnment beside LuVerne’s husband, Robert, was held at 1 p.m. March 26 at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl Crater, in Honolulu. The Rev. Dr. Larry A. Grimm, of Bristol Hospice - Hawaii, Honolulu, officiated. Nuuanu Memorial Park and Mortuary, Honolulu, assisted the family with arrangements.
Memorials may be directed to Immanuel Lutheran Church (also known as the “Engelbrecht Church”), 996 N. State Route 49, Cissna Park, IL 60924, where LuVerne’s paternal grandfather, the Rev. Wilhelm Engelbrecht, had served as pastor, or online to Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders at doctorswithoutborders.org. Tributes may be made online at nmplimited.com.