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Obituaries

Mary Lou Helm

Mary Lou Helm
Mary Lou Helm

STERLING – Mary Lou Helm, 91, of Sterling, died Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018.

She was born June 28, 1926, in Waukegan, and spent her summers swimming in Lake Michigan. She adored her three older siblings, Bill, Dorothy, and Margaret. She graduated from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music. After college, she worked at KSO Radio in Des Moines, and at a nearby veterans hospital. She met her future husband, Rolf L. (Hjelmeseth) Helm, while traveling on a train from Chicago to Des Moines. 

They had four children, Rolf A. Helm of Hawthorne, California, Steven (Theresa Stolzoff) Helm of Homewood, David (Regina Gustafson) Helm of Iowa City, Iowa, and Ann (Scott McKell) Helm of Minneapolis.

Mary Lou earned her teaching certificate at age 40. She was a beloved second grade teacher at Sterling Public Schools for 20 years.

After retiring, Mary Lou and Rolf volunteered at Red Bird Mission in Beverly, Kentucky. They were involved locally at St. Paul Lutheran Church, and sang in the church choir. They also volunteered at Good Neighbor Emergency Center. Mary Lou was a founding member of the dulcimer group and The Stringalongs, and enjoyed playing dulcimer with them for many years.

Mary Lou grew up with a harp, an organ, and a piano in her living room. She loved music, and always had a song on her lips. She always was creating something – whittling, making stained glass art, music, or funny stories. She had a razor-sharp wit.

Mary Lou’s positive attitude was infectious. She lit up the room at Morningside Senior Living with her friendly cheerfulness. At the end of every day, Mary Lou was grateful and believed it had been a good day. She taught this view to her entire family. Loved by scores of nieces and nephews, she was the last of her generation. Thank you, Mom, we will miss you forever.

Mary Lou is survived by her children, her grandchildren, Megan (Shaun Whitley) Helm, Eric (Shaina Knepler-Foss) Helm, Jaime Helm, and Erin Helm; and her great-granddaughter, Elaine Helm-Whitley.

She was preceded in death by her dear husband, Rolf, and her granddaughter, Kristin Helm.

Visitation will be from noon to 1:15 p.m. Saturday, and the funeral at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Sterling, with the Rev. Brandon Nelson officiating. A graveside service will follow at Riverside Cemetery in Sterling.

The family requests that any memorial contributions be to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Sterling.

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