Tania Burgbacher, first lady of the Faith Assembly of God church in Summerville, was remembered Wednesday as a loving wife who shared her husband's passion for missionary work.
"They've been an example of marriage and how you do it right," said Karen Urban, assistant to Pastor Larry Burgbacher.
Tania Burgbacher died Tuesday afternoon in a collision on her way to her home on Spotted Owl Lane. She was 54.
Craig Butler, pastor of discipleship at Faith Assembly, said Burgbacher focused intently on mission projects around the world, especially Project Rescue- House of Hope in Nepal. She went on two mission trips each year with her husband and others from the church, he said. Faith Assembly supports more than 70 missionaries worldwide, Butler said.
"Both of them have a great heart for missions," he said.
Though Burgbacher held no official post at Faith Assembly, she often counseled individuals and led weekend retreats.
Greg Surratt, senior pastor at Seacoast Church, said he met the Burgbachers 21 years ago when he first came to the Charleston area.
"They are a great family," Surratt said. "What a tremendous loss."
Burgbacher was driving her Dodge Durango home at 2:40 p.m. Tuesday when her vehicle collided with a dump truck backing out of a driveway on her street. She was not wearing a seat belt, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol. The driver of the truck, Carl Faron Smith, 54, is charged with failure to yield the right of way, Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Bob Beres said.
The Burgbachers married in 1974 and came from Ohio to the Lowcountry in 1984. Under their leadership, Faith Assembly has experienced tremendous growth, going from about 150 members to more than 1,200.
Burgbacher was dedicated to sharing the message of Christ and knew how to have a good time, Urban said. A few years ago, she learned to scuba dive.
In March, she went on her last mission trip — to Ecuador. During these trips, she would focus on setting up medical clinics while her husband taught the Bible and administered pastoral care, Urban said.
"Our pain is knowing that he's lost half of himself," she said of the pastor. "I believe this is going to be a defining moment in the life of our church family."
Tania Burgbacher is survived by her husband, their three grown children, Jason, Lindy and Chad, and five grandchildren. Jason is youth pastor at Faith Assembly. Lindy and Chad were returning from mission trips abroad Wednesday to join the family.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Dyal Funeral Home of Summerville.