Evadene Charlotte Stranske

Evadene Charlotte Stranske

July 29, 1924 – September 16, 2020

Evadene Charlotte Stranske, 96, of Turlock passed away September 16, 2020. She was born in Turlock, CA, the daughter of Elmer and Lillian (Anderson) Johnson. 

Evadene grew up a self-proclaimed tomboy, a little unsure of herself in social settings, but able to climb trees and ride a horse with ease and grace. She routinely rode the tractor with her Dad, while he did his work on the family farm. Her Dad made her a tree house where she loved to spend time by herself.  On her first day of school, she climbed a tree at recess, refusing to come down when class started. The teacher was not happy, but Evadene showed that she had a measure of power of her own. Evadene never felt she was good at school, and thought her next older sister was the smart one. However, in the end, Evadene was the only child in the family to graduate with a BA from College – at age 61.

Evadene’s family had little when she grew up in the dark days of the great depression. They would supplement their income by selling milk from their cows and berries they had picked on their farm, often carrying these goods on foot to sell in town – two miles away. Evadene loved to work with her hands and started sewing on a treadle machine at age 6. She sewed her first dress at age 10 and went on to sew hundreds of clothing items for herself, her family, and numerous missionary families. She sewed dresses, shirts, pants, jackets, and more. Often, she would make clothing from curtains or used clothing, never wanting anything to go to waste.

In her late teens, Evadene felt the call of God to spend her life in fulltime Christian service, leaving her recently begun nursing studies to enroll at Bible Institute of Los Angeles (BIOLA). There she studied theology, Christian ministry, and Bible, but she also met a young man, Harvey Stranske, who was developing a similar passion for fulltime work in the Lord’s service. Their shared interest in missionary work in Africa brought them closer together, and after they were married on June 15, 1946, they applied as a couple to Sudan Interior Mission (SIM). They were able to secure two summers of training at the Wycliff Summer Institute of Linguistics to prepare for the work of language translation in Sudan, the field where God led them to work. During their 15 years in the Sudan, they worked on two previously unwritten languages so that local tribes could then read the Bible in their own language. Evadene often said Harvey was best at the technical part of language work, while she was good at deciphering the subtle difference in sounds needed to ensure accuracy of the written word. She attributed her keen ear listening to vocal sounds to her years of playing music on her clarinet in the school band. Evadene was enraptured by classical music as well as hymns she learned at church.

When Evadene and Harvey landed in Khartoum Sudan in November of 1947, they were accompanied by 9-month old baby Charlotte, the young couple now just 21 and 23 years old. The next 15 years were to be filled with triumph and tragedy, success and defeat, rainy season and dry season. They translated languages, wrote books, taught people to read, visited local villages, started churches, built houses, treated tropical diseases, patched broken bodies, built an airport (well, a dirt landing strip), farmed the land, canned food, tended cows, goats, and chickens, repaired vehicles, water pumps, and electrical generating plants. Theirs was the Little House on the Savanna. Along with the adventure and the accomplishments were near fatal diseases, snakes and scorpions, floods, collapsing houses, harassment from local government, isolation from friends and families, the heartache of sending young children away to boarding schools, and even the loss of precious family members. Evadene maintained her wellbeing through a constant stream of letters written and received to her mother and numerous friends in the US. Although she knew many dark hours, Evadene always knew that the God who sent them to do this important work would also sustain them.

When their work in Sudan was interrupted by change in the political situation, they had to return to the US. Evadene gave herself more fully to supporting her now teenage children, Charlotte, Ray and Tim, as well as to her younger family, Darryl, Faith, and Susan. She was always an attentive mother, not coddling, always encouraging, challenging each of her children to be the best they could be. After the nest was empty, Evadene decided to go back to school. Her years of study at BIOLA had been invaluable, but she also wanted a degree. She worked on a BA in English partly so that she could write a book about her life in Sudan and about her beloved son Darryl, who lost his life to cancer at age 15. Evadene wrote and published the book Don’t Call Me Poor and always wanted to follow that with a more extensive treatment of her years in Sudan, using the hundreds of letter sent to her Mom, the letters that had been a lifeline while in Sudan, and most of which her Mom saved for her. A stroke made reading and writing difficult for Evadene in her later years and she was never able to write that book. 

Evadene and Harvey spent their final working years crisscrossing the western US recruiting missionaries to go to Africa to carry on the work they had done years before. They would be gone for months, Harvey driving their mobile home, while Evadene rode next to him typing notes from their most recent visit. They went from city to city visiting colleges and churches, seeming to retain the energy of that 21 and 23 year-old-couple who landed in Khartoum back in 1947. After a few years, a mission leader told them they had recruited a record number – more than 150 – of new missionaries to work in different countries of Africa.

Evadene and Harvey were married almost 72 years when he died two years ago. They lived out their final days at Covenant Village with daughter Susan tending to them through regular visits, and their other children spending time with them as frequently as they could. Even with dwindling health, Covenant Village proved to be a happy home for their later years. Evadene could readily say with the Apostle Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” Hers was a life well lived.

Evadene is survived by three daughters: Charlotte Holcomb of Portland, Oregon; Faith Hintz of Nunica, Michigan; and Susan Carlson of Turlock; two sons: Raymond of Denver, Colorado; and Timothy of La Habra, California; 16 grandchildren, and 25 great grandchildren. She is preceded in death by two sons: Donald (1955) and Darryl (1972) as well as all her siblings:  Wilbur Merrill, Levelle Walton, and Eldora Schwab. 

A graveside service will be held at Turlock Memorial Park on Thursday, September 24, 2020 at 2 PM.  Those wishing to attend will need to wear a mask. We recommend you also bring a chair and umbrella if you desire shade.  In light of the pandemic, the family plans to have a more traditional memorial service next year.


  • Connie Barrocas September 22, 2020 3:00 am

    I remember many joyful holidays spent with Uncle Harvey and Aunt Evadene when they lived in Pasadena for a time. We also used to gather at Grandma’s house (Harvey’s mom) for special dinners together too. I learned much as a young girl listening to their stories of Africa.

    They will remain in my memory as a wonderful example of those who follow Jesus wholeheartedly. I bet they are celebrating in heaven!!!

    Connie (Moore) Barrocas

  • Jon Moore September 22, 2020 3:19 pm

    I remember when we would go to Turlock and visit.
    We would have a great time with Uncle Harvey, Aunt Evadene and all of our cousins.
    Got the first stitches in my eyebrow two times one time in Turlock.
    All the story’s. Was telling one of those story’s to the lady that was cutting my hair last Sunday.

  • Ray Stranske September 22, 2020 7:43 pm

    My Mom was a humble person. She always claimed she was not the smart one in her family. She often felt that so many other people could do things better than she could. I think the thing that has brought more tears to my eyes this past week (and there have been many) is the memory of my Mom’s vulnerability.

    While she often considered that she was not good enough, she just went ahead and lived her life. She took huge amounts of her time with and for her family. When I was growing up in Sudan, she raised vegetables and canned hundreds of cans of food to save up for the dry season when growing food was hard. She tended cows, goats, and chickens to provide milk and eggs. She made bread from scratch after she ground the grain herself; she also made the butter and ground the peanut butter and made the jam to go on top. She drove the truck, while Harvey, her husband of 72 years, wrapped the cable around tree stumps to drag those stumps out of the ground, making space for the runway they built, so planes could land close to their house to help people in need. She made hundreds (or was it thousands) of pieces of clothing for her family and other families, sometimes out of discarded used clothing. She treated ugly, life threatening wounds and ulcers, and handed out medicine, doing the best she could with a medical book and advice she remembered hearing from others. She tended her own family’s health needs, sometimes in life & death situations and often when there was no medical help available, other than a diagnosis and remedy she might read in the medical book. She helped to translate languages, teach reading, and establish churches in rural Sudan. She wrote thousands of letters to her family, to her children while they were away at boarding school, and to friends and supporters who were thousands of miles away. She even wrote a book after going back to school so she could get a college degree at age 61. She did this partly, and in her own words, so she could learn to write the story of caring for her teenage son who died of cancer at age 15. She wrote that book, Don’t Call Me Poor, and it has encouraged untold numbers of people who have read it.

    I want to tell you about one of those readers. She is a woman that Marilyn and I have known since she was a teenager. Her name is Jeannie and she was Marilyn’s Jr Partner while Jeannie was struggling to make it through her teen years in a challenging family setting. Jeannie is now a grandma who has formally adopted her six young grandkids after her daughter, the mother of the six children, was unable to care for them due to a drug addiction. Jeannie has had to go back a generation and begin the task of mothering all over again. We gave Mom’s book to Jeannie, and this week she said in a Facebook message regarding Mom’s death: “I’m so sorry Ray. I have been reading the book she [my Mom] wrote! She really is a special lady and God fearing woman who raised her children so beautiful in the way that the Lord wanted. She’s in heaven!”

    Nothing would have made my Mom more joyful than to know that people would sincerely say of her, “She is a God fearing woman, who raised her children so beautiful in the way that the Lord wanted.” This is exactly what my Mom wished people would be able to say about her. I have no way to improve on Jeannie’s message about my Mom.

  • Larry and Patricia Magnusson September 26, 2020 11:19 pm

    We loved your parents! They were both an inspiration and encouragement to us. Mr. Stranske was my (Patricia) missions teacher at WBI. Your mom showed us such love and hospitality! It was a privilege to have known them both. We named our oldest son after your brother Darryl; he was a wonderful young man with a beautiful testimony. He was very special to us. May your hearts be comforted by knowing that your dear parents are safe at home.

  • Allan & Carla Merrill September 27, 2020 11:06 pm

    Dear Susan, Faith, Tim, Ray, Char and other Stranske family members,

    We are so sorry for your loss, here on earth, of your mother, grandmother, & great-grandmother! But now Evy is enjoying Heaven with Harvey, Darryl, Donny and many other loved ones in the presence of the Lord! Evy was such an amazing woman as she walked beside Harvey as pioneers on the African mission field to bring the Good News of Jesus to the unreached in Africa! You have such a rich heritage of faith in God as your foundation!

    Carla and I would have loved to be at Evy’s graveside service and get to see all of you who are there, but were in Arroyo Grande at Jordan & Kate’s home, taking care of our grandkids for a few days.

    We will certainly be praying for you all and remembering our Aunt Evy’s life, so well-lived!

    May you all experience God’s comfort during these days!

    Allan & Carla

  • Diane Davis September 28, 2020 4:32 pm

    Susan and Family,
    So sorry for your loss. What a fantastic life she lived for the Lord. Praying for peace and comfort for you and your family. May the assurance of God’s faithful love embrace your heart.
    With love,
    Jerry and Diane Davis

  • Chuck and Muriel Davis April 5, 2021 12:20 am

    We wish to thank, however late it may be, for including us in the announcement of Evadine’s home going. None of us are going to get out of here alive but as I was accustomed to saying to students in colleges: Most non Christians live in a living world going to die, whereas believers live in a dying world to a world that is eternal with the resurrected Master of our lives. Evadine was loved by many and we were part of that many. My bride and I include our condolences to the family on her passing and our apology for being so late in answering. God’s blessing on you all. Love, Chuck and Muriel

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