January 11, 2016
A life remembered
On Tuesday, Dec 29 at 9:10 a.m. Helen left her suffering on this earth and went to be with God for all eternity. Helen didn't need much and asked for less. Her life seemed to revolve around "What can I do for others."
Helen was a role model for young and old alike. Never did she issue a harsh word and had a love and understanding for everyone she met.
Helen was born in Mankato MN where she developed her love of walking. As she walked daily to Peter and Paul Elementary School and then to Good Counsel Academy. Those daily 4 mile walks became her passion as she continued through life walking until her passing. Following high school graduation she entered the life of Maryknoll Sisters in hopes of becoming a Nun. Her health didn't warrant it, so she then continued her studies at Mankato State University, graduating with majors in Elementary Education and Art. Classroom education would become her life's choosing, where her love and understanding of people would make her an exemplary teacher for 34 years.
While in college she found time to work in a religious gift store, a ladies dress shop and made "to die for" banana splits at an ice cream shop. Her passion for art in general and particularly watercolor led her to travel and study extensively throughout Europe, however the time came to put her education to work.
The superintendent of schools in Ely, MN interviewed Helen and convinced her to begin her career in the land of sky blue waters. Helen always said it was divine intervention that guided her to Ely. It was in the old Lincoln School she began her career, where she could walk in the matter of minutes from home. Helen was happy! She could teach second grade as well as art to all grades. After four years teaching in the Fall of 1959, it seemed that divine intervention took place a second time. Her future husband John Kuehlman arrived in Ely to begin his first year of teaching.
They met in a sauna at a faculty party, and many dates followed. Long walks holding hands were common and weekends canoeing brought them closer. Bird hunting days were full of laughter in the warmth of a fall sunny, warm afternoon. Winter brought skiing and skiing brought a broken leg for Helen. Her rehab was in Ironwood MI with John's parents. All activities of the past four months led to John's proposal of marriage. Ely's bitter cold winter also led to John's resignation from the Ely School District. Two dream teaching positions in Aspen Colorado opened and after their June wedding the couple packed the car and headed for Aspen and a 30 year career of teaching began in one of the world's most famous resorts.
Teaching along with watercolor painting, elk and deer hunting, x-country skiing, timing races, bridge clubs, hiking, and raising two children kept Helen busy and active. Each summer she and her family drove back to Ely and Burntside Lake to fish, swim, canoe, kayak, pick berries, camp and raise children. Helen was a tireless volunteer helping with junior golf programs, watercolor lessons, helping with the x-c ski team, the Special Olympics and many others.
She truly left a legacy of love, kindness, understanding and passions for all to follow. She retired from teaching after 34 years of devotion to children and adults alike. Her retirement years found her spending six of the summer months in Ely and the other six months in Palm Desert CA, enjoying the CA warm sunshine as well as golf, painting and so on. Her last four years were physically difficult and painful. Back surgeries and injections were her constant companions. Cancer of the pancreas was in its fourth stage before being diagnosed and spread to other organs and refused to leave. Chemo treatments at the Lucy Curci Cancer Center in Rancho Mirage CA were the last hope, however the cancer took its toll. Helen's final days were controlled by drugs, so her suffering had ended. Her work on earth was done, she crossed the finish line and died in peace. Helen has gone to be with God for all eternity.
Helen is survived by her husband John, son John Jr., daughter Margo, sister MaryAnn, son-in-law Maurice Khollman, brother-n-law Jerry Weigenant and five grandchildren.
Mass and funeral will be held in St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Ely MN at a July date. In lieu of flowers please send contributions to: Shriners Children's Hospital, http://www.shrinershospitals forchildren.org/donate, 855-401-4897
Funeral arrangements have been delegated to the Kerntz Funeral Home.
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