Mary Lou Helm

Obituary of Mary Lou Helm

Mary Lou Helm, age 91, died Tuesday, January 9th, 2018. She was born on June 28, 1926, in Waukegan, Illinois, 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 BA in Music. After college, she worked at KSO Radio in Des Moines and at a nearby veteran’s 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, Hawthorne, California; Steven Helm (Theresa Stolzoff), Homewood, Illinois; David Helm (Regina Gustafson), Iowa City, Iowa; and Ann Helm (Scott McKell), Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Mary Lou earned her teaching certificate at age 40. She was a beloved second grade teacher at Sterling Public Schools for twenty 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, 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 was always 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 Helm (Shaun Whitley), Eric Helm (Shaina Knepler-Foss), Jaime Helm, Erin Helm, and her great-granddaughter Elaine Helm-Whitley.


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


Funeral services will be held at 1:30PM Saturday, January 13, 2018 at St. Paul Lutheran Church, with Reverend Brandon Nelson, pastor, officiating. Visitation will be from 12-1:15 PM, prior to services at the church, with graveside services to follow at Riverside Cemetery, in Sterling.


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