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Ethel M. Helgeson

Jun 28, 2013

Ethel Helgeson, 88, of Clearfield, IA, formerly of rural Minnewaukan and Rugby, ND, died Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at the Clearview Nursing Home in Clearfield, IA. Memorial Services will be Saturday, June 29, 2013, 2:00 PM at Leeds Lutheran Church with Pastor Harold Ovre officiating. Burial will be Sunday, June 30th, 2013, 12 noon in St. Olaf Lutheran Cemetery, rural Minnewaukan. The Nelson Funeral Home of Maddock is in charge of the arrangements.

Ethel Mae was born on May 29, 1925, to Ernest and Daisy (Kurz) Schuman in Warren, Minnesota, but was quickly reunited with her other siblings in rural Minnewaukan, ND, where her family had a dairy farm.

She attended elementary school in a one-room schoolhouse, then attended Benson County Agricultural Training School in Maddock, ND, graduating as Salutatorian in 1942. For the next 3 years, she taught at one-room schoolhouses before leaving to attend Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, followed by two years at Valley City State Teachers College in Valley City, ND, where she received a Normal Teachers Degree.

She taught English and Drama at McClusky, North Dakota for a year, then transferred to the Fargo Public School district where she taught Jr. High drama for four years.

On June 28, 1953, she married Harlan Donald Helgeson, whom she had known since first grade and with whom she had attended high school. They moved onto one of the family farms in the Minnewaukan area and continued to live in that area until 1998. Their daughter Elaine Marie was born in November of 1954 and another girl, Joan Carol, was added in January of 1957.

Ethel and Harlan were members of the St. Olaf Lutheran Church, Esmond Parish, of rural Minnewaukan, where they led the high school youth group, “Luther League,” while their children were small. Ethel was the Sunday School Superintendant for many years, writing and directing the annual Christmas programs. She served as chairman of “Family Night” and Ladies Aid (WELCA) many times, and taught Sunday School for 20 years.

In 1965, Ethel returned to teaching handicapped and special needs students, first privately and then in the Minnewaukan and Maddock schools as a remedial reading teacher from 1968 to 1976.

Ethel used her remarkable gifts of administration to graciously serve her community. She taught Farmers Union Youth camps and classes for many years and was known for her drama events and programs. Ethel was as comfortable on a stage or chairing a meeting as she was driving a grain truck. She is especially remembered for her generous hospitality and great cooking. You were always welcome in Ethel’s home!

Next to traveling with Harlan, perhaps the hobby that brought her the greatest joy was music. Harlan and Ethel were known for their duets and the quartets they sang with their dear friends, Henning and Myrt Jacobson, performing for 50 years. And they rarely missed a performance by any of their three grandchildren, no matter how far they had to travel to see them.

In 1977, Harlan and Ethel became snowbirds. They retired from farming in 1989, and in 1998 moved to Rugby, ND, enjoying summers in North Dakota and winters in Mesa, Arizona.

The Helgesons moved south to be closer to their daughters and grandchildren in 2008 – first to Cedar Rapids, IA, for two years, and then to Creston, IA, for the past three years. No matter where they lived during their nearly 60 years together, they continued to make new friends and find ways to help those around them. The coffee pot was always on!

Ethel is survived by her husband Harlan of Creston, IA, daughter Elaine (OJ) Fargo, of Creston, IA, grandson Eric Neeley (Laura) of Des Moines, IA, daughter Joan (Blane) Wollschlager of Fort Worth, TX, grandchildren Sarah (Nate) Ndjerareou of Arlington, TX, Dana (Kirsten) Wollschlager of Landstuhl, Germany, step-grandchildren Maddee Fargo, Alex and Noah Fargo, and two great-grandchildren, Sophia and Isaac Ndjerareou, sister Evelyn Piper of Rugby, ND, sisters-in-law Evelyn Chapman of Arlington, Washington, Joan Schuman of Sun Lakes, AZ, Lucille Schuman of Gilbertville, KY, and numerous nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents Ernest and Daisy Schuman, brothers Kenneth, Glenn and Earl Schuman, and brother-in-law Harvey Piper, sister-in-law Mamie Schuman, her parents-in-law Clarence and Gustina Helgeson, her sisters-in-law Hazelle Helgeson, Geneva Olsen and Marilyn Aanderud, and brothers-in-law Edwin Helgeson, Glen Chapman, Reo Olsen and Odell Aanderud.

Online condolences may be left at www.thenelsonfuneralhome.com.

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