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HELEN R. Van Kirk, age 92, of DeKalb, IL, formerly of Aurora , is now at rest in the arms of her Savior after passing away surrounded by the love and prayers of her family at Oak Crest Retirement Center in DeKalb where she had recently made her home. BORN: She was born May 28, 1919 at home on the family chicken farm in Aurora, the daughter of Daniel Oscar and Margaret Christine (Kesel) Happes.EARLY YEARS:Helen grew up in Aurora and attended local schools. She graduated from East Aurora High School with the class of 1939. Following graduation Helen began a 26 year career during the depression at Colonial Frock as a seamstress installing zippers on dresses. MARRIAGE: Maurice Van Kirk was a lifetime family friend from the time he and Helen explored the farm as children. That friendship formed the foundation for a lifetime of love when they were united in marriage February 15, 1947 after dating for ten years. RESIDENTIAL HISTORY: They began their new life together by moving into town and living above her parents. This would be the place that would hold the thousands of memories made over the years as they watched their nieces grow. Never having children themselves, Uncle Morrie and Aunt Helen became the family favorites and the destination where any fun was to be had. It was only in later years, after their health began to decline and after Morrie’s passing, did she move to Oak Crest Retirement Center in DeKalb where she made many friends and many more memories. LIFE NOTES: Helen loved to garden and paid special attention to her sunflowers, poppies, and pansies. When it came to vegetables and fruits, Helen held the prize when it came to homemade grape jelly and canned vegetables. When the weather turned colder, Helen and Morrie began preparing for the holidays when they would pass out special Christmas Divinity Fudge (made only on sunny days) and fantastic caramel popcorn delivered in special tins. When she wasn’t in the garden or preparing delicious home cooked meals, Helen kept her hands busy by crocheting numerous pot holders and many afghans that were donated to local churches. She also had a chicken collection born of her childhood that at one time numbered well over 350. From spoons, handkerchiefs, dishes, salt and pepper shakers, you name it—she had it and loved everyone of them. There was nothing Helen loved more than her husband. It was joy to take care of him and help make their house a home. When they did travel, she enjoyed visiting Canada, Florida, and Arkansas, but when it came to fishing the only destination was Minnesota. The world lost a special woman but gained a legacy of love that will be passed down through the generations. SURVIVORS: She is survived by five nieces:Joyce Brunner of Lakeland, Florida, Una Schusler of Hinckley, IL, Dawn Stoner of Yankton, SD, Judy (David) Minor of Florida Gail (Pedro) Beildeck of Hertford, NC;14 great-nieces and nephews;17 great-great nieces and nephews;Two great-great-great nephews;Three dear cousins:Charles Frazier of Aurora, IL and Ivan and David Hawkins, both of Tucson, AZ;PRECEDED:She is preceded in death by her parents, husband Maurice;Two brothers:Willard John Happes and Donald Joseph Happes;One niece, Faye Happes Caisse and Two nephews: Dan Stoner and Keith Schusler.VISITATION / FUNERAL Visitation will be from 9:30-10:30 a. m, Monday, August 15, 2011 at Hinckley First United Methodist Church, 801 N. Sycamore, Hinckley, IL 60520. A funeral to celebrate her life will follow visitation at 10:30 a.m. Rev. Laura Crites, pastor of the church, will officiate and interment will follow at Lincoln Memorial Park in Aurora, IL. MEMORIAL A memorial has been established in her name to benefit Helen’s favorite charities. Checks may be made to the "Helen Van Kirk Memorial" and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at www.conleycare.com.
Visitation will be from 9:30-10:30 a. m, Monday, August 15, 2011 at Hinckley First United Methodist Church, 801 N. Sycamore, Hinckley, IL 60520. A funeral to celebrate her life will follow visitation at 10:30 a.m. Rev. Laura Crites, pastor of the church, will officiate.
Interment will follow at Lincoln Memorial Park in Aurora, IL.