Cover photo for Helga E. (Wunsch) Rist's Obituary
1928 Helga 2024

Helga E. (Wunsch) Rist

April 6, 1928 — March 17, 2024


Helga E. (Wunsch) Rist of Bethany Village, formerly of Camp Hill, passed quietly on March 17, 2024 at the age of 95, just a few weeks shy of her 96th birthday.  Born on April 6, 1928 in Frankfurt (Oder) Germany (formerly East Germany), she was an only child.  At the age of seventeen she was taken prisoner by the Communists in East Germany and placed in concentration camps for the next seven and a half years without trial.   Her experiences have been documented in the book, “The Blood Letter,” a compelling story about into how a young woman in post-World War II survived the brutality of her captors.  Those experiences formed her fiercely independent nature.  The actual “blood letter” is on permanent display in Germany.  Upon release from her captors, she immigrated to Sweden and then to England and finally to the United States.


She was married to Karl Rist, with whom she had earlier corresponded, and who predeceased her in 1974.  Helga was an engaging teacher of the German language and taught the subject at Lower Dauphin High School for over thirty years.   Later, she taught at the college level at Wilson College in Chambersburg.  Her students continued to write to her and visit her well into her retirement.  Helga was a world traveler, and loved music.  She was a singer in the Hershey Chorus and with the Camp Hill Lutheran Church choir and a devotee of the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra.  Besides music, her other great love was for animals, particularly dogs, who seemed to find a kindred spirit in Helga.  Helga led an extraordinary life filled with amazing experiences and many friends, and she will be missed by many.

All are welcome to join Helga’s loved ones at her funeral service on Saturday, June 29, 2024, beginning at 10:00 a.m. at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 2000 Chestnut Street, Camp Hill, PA 17011.


There will be no interment because as a final act of generosity she donated her body to Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for medical research in the hope that she might help medical students learn more about the care and treatment of the elderly.  A service honoring Helga will be announced at a later date.  Donations in Helga’s memory would best be made to the ASPCA or to Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra.


Helga’s family has entrusted her care to Buhrig Funeral & Cremation in Mechanicsburg, (717) 766-3421.  Read Helga’s full obituary, offer condolences and sympathy, share stories and memories, upload photographs and videos, light a candle and sign her official guest book by visiting

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Helga E. (Wunsch) Rist, please visit our flower store.
Helga Rist Memorial Folder.pdf

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Starts at 10:00 am (Eastern time)

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church

2000 Chestnut Street, Camp Hill, PA 17011

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