Kalbermatter, Guillermina Deggeller de (1892–1989)

By Eugenio Di Dionisio

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Eugenio Di Dionisio

First Published: January 29, 2020

Guillermina Deggeller de Kalbermatter was a missionary nurse in Peru and Argentina, and wife of missionary Pedro Kalbermatter (1886-1968).1

Early Years in Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina (1892-1919)

Born on January 8, 1892, in Águila, Soriano Province, Uruguay Republic, Guillermina was the daughter of Guillermo Deggeller (1844-1934), who emigrated to Uruguay from Schaffhausen, Switzerland. Guillermina's mother, Berta Kunzle (1860-1941), was originally from Sankt Gallen, Switzerland and emigrated to Uruguay with her parents and siblings. Guillermina was the fifth daughter of Guillermo Deggeller and Berta Kunzle. Her sisters were best known in Adventist history as Cecilia Deggeller (1880-1973), the eldest who married Pastor Ignacio Kalbermatter (1879-1952), and Elvira Deggeller (1885-1958), a Bible instructor and canvasser.2

In the mid-1890s, a devastating drought in Uruguay forced the Deggeller's to emigrate to Paraguay. In the port of Buenos Aires, a friend and canvasser of the Bible Society gave them magazines that presented the theme of Saturday as the Sabbath and, without additional instructions, they began to observe it.3 Doctor and Pastor Robert Habenicht visited them in 1903. While studying the Bible in her home located in the rural area near Altos, Cordillera District, Mother Berta Künzle de Deggeller decided to be baptized with daughters Cecilia, Fanny, Luisa, and Guillermina (11 years old). Elvira was traveling in Europe.

When Guillermina was 18 or 19 years old, her sister Elvira invited her to go to the city of Rosario, Santa Fe Province, Argentina, to sell Christian publications. In 1912 she moved to River Plate Academy and Sanitarium. She worked for a few months and then completed the three-year nursing course, graduating in 1915.

Her marriage to Pedro Kalbermatter took place on December 20, 1915 in the city of Rosario, province of Santa Fe, Argentina. It was there that the first two children, Pedro and Orlando, were born. In Peru, while the family lived in Laro, Haydée, Héctor and Alfredo were born; Arcely in Huancayo; and the youngest Elena, in Andahuaylas. Six of Pedro and Guillermina's seven children have worked in Adventist institutions and many of their 23 grandchildren and 40 great-grandchildren became professionals willing to serve God and others.

Missionary Service in Peru (1919-1937)

In 1919 the South American Division invited the Kalbermatter's to move to Peru to work with Pastor Fernando A. Stahl (1874-1950) and his wife Ana Christina Carlson de Stahl (1870-1968), missionaries among the Incas.4 Together with her husband Pedro Kalbermatter, Guillermina labored in an intense and fruitful missionary work in Peru for nearly 20 years. At that time Guillermina D. Kalbermatter took special interest in medical care, cleanliness, and healthy eating and drinking. She was a midwife and replaced her husband when he was away on his great mission tours.5 As a nurse and midwife she brought into existence more than 2,000 children and greatly facilitated her husband's work as a missionary.

The Kalbermatter’s spent a year at the Platería Mission Station in Puno, Peru and built the Samán Mission Station with a school and medical dispensary. They continued their work in the indigenous mission of Laro, in the Azangaro Valley, where Guillermina was a teacher. In 1927 they moved to Huancayo and Huanta, 800 kilometers from Laro and later to Andahuaylas and Cusco.

Final Years in Argentina and the United States

Upon returning to Argentina in 1937, the Kalbermatter family settled in Aldea Jacobi, a rural area near the city of Crespo, Entre Ríos, where she continued to provide nursing and midwife services. Her husband Pedro died on March 13, 1968.

In 1972 she moved to the United States with her daughter Elena. She died on March 19, 1989, in Glendale, California, a few days after turning 98. She is remembered as a brave, determined, and selfless missionary.6 She was an admired wife, mother, and grandmother whose influence extended to her offspring. She was a highly valued person in the family for her humility, as well as for her wise advice.

Sources

Greenleaf, Floyd. Tierra de esperanza: El crecimiento de la Iglesia Adventista Sudamericana [Land of Hope: Growth of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in South America]. Trad. Claudia Blath. Buenos Aires: South American Spanish Publishing House, 2011.

Kalbermatter, Cecilia Deggeller de. “Los comienzos de la obra en el Paraguay” [The beginning of the work in Paraguay]. La Revista Adventista [Adventist Review], year 58, nº 8, August 1958, 13.

Kalbermatter, Pedro. 20 años como misionero entre los indios del Perú: Apuntes autobiográficos [20 years as a missionary among the Indians of Peru: Autobiographical notes]. Paraná, Entre Ríos: Nueva Impresora, 1950.

Kalbermatter, Pedro. “La obra médica en el Perú” [Medical work in Peru]. La Revista Adventista [Adventist Review], year 23, nº 25, December 1923, 7, 8.

McCarthy, John. “Notes from the Argentina Republic.” ARH, November 5, 1903, 17.

Peverini, Héctor J. En las huellas de la Providencia [In the footsteps of Providence]. Buenos Aires: South American Spanish Publishing House, 1988.

Plenc, Daniel Oscar. Misioneros en Sudamérica: Pioneros del Adventismo en Latinoamérica [Missionaries in South America: Pioneers of Adventism in Latin America]. 2nd Ed. Buenos Aires: South American Spanish Publishing House, 2008.

Plenc, Daniel, Silvia Scholtus, Eugenio Di Dionisio, Sergio Becerra. Misioneros fundacionales del adventismo Sudamericano [Pioneer missionaries of South American Adventism]. 3rd Ed. Libertador San Martín, Entre Ríos: Editorial River Plate Adventist University, 2016.

Schmidt, Samuel. “Necrología” [Obituary]. Revista Adventista [Adventist Review], year 90, nº 7, July 1990, 31.

Snyder, E. W. “Progress in Paraguay.” ARH, February 17, 1903, 13.

Taiña, Justo R. La mujer compañera del hombre [The woman companion of the man]. Industria Offset Perú S. A., 1994.

Thompson, J. T. “Meeting Obstacles But Not Discouragement.” South American Bulletin, vol. 4, nº 7, September 1928, 5.

Westphal, Barbara Osborne. A Man Called Pedro. Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1975.

Westphal, J. W. “Chile.” ARH, May 5, 1904, 17.

Notes

  1. See the autobiographical report: Pedro Kalbermatter, 20 años como misionero entre los indios del Perú: Apuntes autobiográficos [20 years as a missionary among the Indians of Peru: Autobiographical notes] (Paraná, Entre Ríos: Nueva Impresora, 1950). Barbara Westphal, A Man Called Pedro (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1975). Daniel Oscar Plenc, Misioneros en Sudamérica: Pioneros del Adventismo en Latinoamérica [Missionaries in South America: Pioneers of Adventism in Latin America], 2nd ed. (Buenos Aires: South American Spanish Publishing House, 2008), 98-106.

  2. Samuel Schmidt, “Necrología” [Obituary], Revista Adventista [Adventist Review], year 90, nº 7, July 1990, 31. Daniel Plenc, Silvia Scholtus, Eugenio Di Dionisio, Sergio Becerra, Misioneros fundacionales del adventismo Sudamericano [Pioneer Missionaries of South American Division], 3rd ed. (Libertador San Martín, Entre Ríos: Editorial River Plate Adventist University, 2016), 193-214.

  3. Cecilia Deggeller de Kalbermatter, “Los comienzos de la obra en el Paraguay” [The beginning of the work in Paraguay], La Revista Adventista [Adventist Review], year 58, nº 8, August 1958, 13. E. W. Snyder, “Progress in Paraguay,” ARH, February 17, 1903, 13. John McCarthy, “Notes from the Argentina Republic,” ARH, November 5, 1903, 17. J. W. Westphal, “Chile,” ARH, May 5, 1904, 17.

  4. See chapter “En el altiplano del Perú” [In the highlands of Peru], of the book by Héctor J. Peverini, En las huellas de la Providencia [In the footsteps of Providence] Buenos Aires: South American Spanish Publishing House, 1988), 157-180. Floyd Greenleaf, Tierra de esperanza: El crecimiento de la Iglesia Adventista Sudamericana [Land of Hope: Growth of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in South America], trad. Claudia Blath (Buenos Aires: South American Spanish Publishing House, 2011), 248, 251, 326, 355.

  5. Pedro Kalbermatter, “La obra médica en el Perú” [Medical work in Peru], La Revista Adventista [Adventist Review], year 23, nº 25, December 1923, 7, 8. J. T. Thompson, “Meeting Obstacles but not Discouragement,” South American Bulletin, vol. 4, nº 7, September 1928, 5.

  6. Héctor J. Peverini, En las huellas de la Providencia [In the footsteps of Providence] (Buenos Aires: South American Spanish Publishing House, 1988), 177. Justo R. Taiña, La mujer compañera del hombre [The woman companion of the man] (Industria Offset Perú S. A., 1994), 166, 167.

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Dionisio, Eugenio Di. "Kalbermatter, Guillermina Deggeller de (1892–1989)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed November 29, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9GJN.

Dionisio, Eugenio Di. "Kalbermatter, Guillermina Deggeller de (1892–1989)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access November 29, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9GJN.

Dionisio, Eugenio Di (2020, January 29). Kalbermatter, Guillermina Deggeller de (1892–1989). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved November 29, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9GJN.