Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the death of Jan Engsberg

Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the death of Jan Engsberg

Janice M. Engsberg
February 12, 1948 – August 20, 2014

Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the death of former mission personnel Janice M. Engsberg on August 20, 2014 in Portland, Oregon.  Jan was born in Lebanon, Missouri to parents Ervin (Dutch) and Ola Engsberg.  She studied sociology at Drury College, Springfield, Missouri, receiving her Bachelor and Master’s degrees in that field from the University of Kentucky in Lexington in 1972.  She received her Ph.D in Sociology and Mass Communication from State University of New York in Stony Brook in 1982.

During her years of Ph.D. studies, Jan was a teaching assistant and lecturer in the Department of Sociology, State University of New York (1972-1976).  During years 1977-1985 Jan worked as the Associate Director of Policy in the United Church of Christ’s office of Communication in New York, New York. 

In 1986 Dr. Engsberg was appointed by what today is Global Ministries to serve first for three years in the South China Normal University in Guangshou, Guangdong, China and then at the Xiamen University, Fujian, China until 2006.  She was professor of communications and journalism and international journalism.  In a 2012 online article, friends state:  Engsberg left an impression as an “excellent and kind foreign teacher” among the students and teachers at Xiamen University, and she made great achievements in the place she considered her “second hometown”.  She invited some students to parties on Christmas Day every year, she used her own savings to help some poor students, and she even donated her foreign language books to the book corner “Nanmencaibao” an user of Sina Weibo, a leading Twitter-styled microblogging service in China, wrote.  Engsberg also established the “Ying Jian Scholarship,” using her Chinese name, for students at the university, said Zhu Jianqiang, deputy director of the School of Communication and Journalism.

Jan was a talented music lover.  She was able to play many instruments and spent most of her spare time helping promote the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra, establishing a close friendship with its conductor, Ms. Zheng Xiaoying.   

Jan was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2001 and after treatments in China failed, transitioned to the United States in 2006.  Teachers and students at Xiamen university organized “We Love Jan”, an online group set up to echo the call for help and to raise money for Engsberg’s treatments. They raised over $20,000 for her medical expenses.

Jan was preceded in death by her parents, and her brothers, Paul, James, and David Engsberg.  Survivors include several nieces and nephews, extended family, and many friends worldwide.  

Read a tribute to Dr. Janice Engsberg on the Xiamen University online news service.