2009.05.29: May 29, 2009: Headlines: Headquarters: Obituaries: Training: Staff: Northfield News : Obituary for Peace Corps Staff Member Henry Helgen Jr.

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Obituary for Peace Corps Staff Member Henry Helgen Jr.

Obituary for Peace Corps Staff Member Henry Helgen Jr.

While at Dartmouth, Henry was tapped by the Kennedy administration to be part of the beginning of the Peace Corps as the assistant project coordinator in training volunteers. This took him to West Africa in 1963 and provided a constant stream of visitors from various African countries to the Helgen home.

Obituary for Peace Corps Staff Member Henry Helgen Jr.

Henry Helgen Jr., 89
Posted: Friday, May 29, 2009 10:34 pm
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Henry Helgen Jr., 89
Henry M. Helgen Jr., age 89, of Minneapolis, formerly of Northfield, died Thursday, May 28, 2009.

Henry (Hank) was born Aug. 15, 1919, to Henry M. and Hedvig Constance Helgen and grew up in Emmetsburg, Iowa. After graduating from St. Olaf College in 1941, he was called to duty when World War II broke out, serving as a captain with the 21st Marines, 3rd Marine Division. He led his troops in heavy combat in the South Pacific, receiving two bronze stars for his heroic service. At the end of the war, Henry was selected by the Marines to participate in a goodwill tour around the world, including North Africa, China and the Middle East. He had many stories to tell of this adventure and retired from the military as a Lt. Colonel.

After leaving the Marines, Henry began his career at Ripon College, then moved to Augustana College where he served as dean of men. Education became his passion, and he went on to receive his masterís degree from the University of Colorado and his doctorate from Columbia University in New York City.

Henry met his beloved wife, Ruth, in the summer of 1951, but took a year to ask her out. He finally did so during the summer of 1952, and five weeks later they were married. After graduating from Columbia, Henry and Ruth and their young son, Henry III, moved to Hanover, N.H., where he accepted a position at Dartmouth College as assistant dean of college and director of student counseling. Two daughters, Anne and then Kristi, soon followed. The family has many happy memories of Hanover as their first home.

While at Dartmouth, Henry was tapped by the Kennedy administration to be part of the beginning of the Peace Corps as the assistant project coordinator in training volunteers. This took him to West Africa in 1963 and provided a constant stream of visitors from various African countries to the Helgen home.

In 1967, Henry was ready to move his family back to his Midwestern roots. He was recruited by both St. Olaf and Carleton at the same time, but chose his alma mater, accepting the newly created position of dean of students and vice president at St. Olaf. Henry loved being back in the Midwest and at St. Olaf, which was never far from his heart. The favorite part of his job was interacting with students, and the dinners he and Ruth regularly sponsored for students provided lively discussions at many gatherings over the years.

Henry was particularly proud of his Norwegian heritage and maintained contact with his many relatives in Norway. He would practice his broken Norwegian when he could and was known for his dry wit and puns. His humor stayed with him until the end, as did his love for interacting with people. He was closely connected to the Northfield community, serving as an active member of St. Johnís Lutheran Church and many civic organizations.

After his retirement in 1984, Henry and Ruth enjoyed wintering in Palm Springs, traveling to various destinations around the world, and visiting their children in Boston and Alaska. Though it was difficult to leave Northfield, for the past few years Henry and Ruth moved to care centers in Hopkins, then Minneapolis, in order to address their individual needs and remain together.

Henry is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Ruth; son and daughter-in-law, Henry III and Michele of Minneapolis, and their three children Erika, of Cambridge, England, Brigit of Washington, D.C., and Thomas of Minneapolis; daughter, Anne, and son-in-law, Michael Gilligan, and their three children, Conor, Christopher and Molly, of Belmont, Mass.; daughter, Kristi, of Eagle River, Alaska, and many close relatives who meant so much to him over the years. He was preceded in death by his siblings and their spouses, Lon and Lavena Helgen, Kay and Earl Vitalis and Irene Helgen.

Funeral services will be held at 1:30 p.m. Monday, June 1, 2009, at St. Johnís Lutheran Church in Northfield, with interment in Oaklawn Cemetery, with full military honors. Visitation will be from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Bierman Funeral Home in Northfield.

Memorials are preferred to the Henry M. and Ruth S. Helgen Endowed Scholarship at St. Olaf College or St. Johnís Lutheran Church.




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Story Source: Northfield News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Headquarters; Obituaries; Training; Staff

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