Merle “Papa” Edwin Helming, 91, of Tomah died Sunday June 23, 2013 at his home. He was born December 15, 1921 to Tony and Clara (Winkelman) Helming in the Town of LaGrange, Monroe County. He attended the White and Kirby Country Schools. He was a graduating member of the Tomah High School Class of 1940. After graduating from high school he went to work on a dairy farm near Grayslake, IL. He worked in the produce department of an A & P Store in Round Lake, IL. In 1942 he was drafted into the military service, he served in the U.S. Air Force as a radio technician on the Pacific Island of Saipan. He was a WW II Veteran. He returned home in December 1946. He has several jobs: he worked logging, for the railroad, hauling stock and cattle, and at the PX at Fort McCoy. In 1953 he began working at the Tomah VA Hospital as a nursing assistant and worked there until his retirement in 1980. He was a Charter member of the Tomah F.F.A. and was also on a livestock judging team at the school. He enjoyed playing cards, cribbage, working in his garden, picking strawberries, raspberries, all sorts of vegetables, working in his pumpkin and squash patch. He especially enjoyed the kindergartners that came from various schools and groups to pick their own pumpkins. He did this for 35 years. He enjoyed watching horse pulls and Allis-Chalmers Tractors. He went on several trips with his wife, they visited Niagara Falls for their honeymoon and again on there 45th wedding anniversary, they traveled on a train out west making several stops in different cities along the way, and numerous other trips, even though Merle was most of a “home body.” He was a faithful member of St. Mary Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. Merle was a proud “papa”, he loved his grandchildren very much, hunting and fishing with them, especially with his two grandsons David and Zach Helming, he will always be remembered by his grandchildren for his sense of humor, his white striped overalls, and cuddling with grandpa in his big chair for siestas, and his big hands, he always said “there’s not a bum in the bunch” Most important to Merle was his family especially his wife Berniece. He was a devoted husband and a proud father and grandfather.
He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Berniece, his 8 children, Richard (Jill) Helming of Warrens, Carol Helming of Colorado, Mark (his fiancé Anna Ledvina) Helming of Tomah, Wayne (Jean) Helming of Bangor, Peggy (Joe) Kowols of Mt. Prospect, IL, Jeff (Cindy) Helming of Tomah, Lois (Stephen) Hellweg of Black Creek, Shelly (Dan) Smerchek of Rosholt, 17 grandchildren, David (Miranda) Helming of Warrens, Zachary Helming of Warrens, and Ashleigh Helming of Tomah, Chad Nelson of Arizona, Curt and Craig Nelson of Colorado, Maximillian and Augustine Helming of Tomah, Michael (Jill) Kowols of Des Plaines, IL, Timothy (Laura) Kowols of Green Bay, Heather, Justin, Allison, and Alexander Hellweg of Black Creek, Kelsi, Dathan, and Kailen Smerchek of Rosholt, and 2 soon to be expected great-grandchildren, brothers Robert (Judy) Helming, John and Tom Helming, all of Tomah, and a sister Georgia Sierra of Appleton, sisters-in-law Bertha Leeser, Diane Miller, Mabel (James) Bernhardt, and a brother-in-law Calvin Pasch, many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Tony and Clara, sisters Gladys, Clarabelle and Edna Helming, sister-in-law Pam Helming, brother-in-law Bill Pierce, Tom Dempsey and Al Kruse, his father and mother-in-law Richard and Mae Miller, brothers-in-law, Charles Leeser and William Miller, sister-in-law Bernieta Pasch and a niece Janice Lepkowski,
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Thursday, June 27, 10:30 A.M. at St. Mary Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Tomah. Msgr. Richard W. Gilles will officiate. Burial will be in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery. Relatives and friends are invited to call on Wednesday from 4:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M. at the Sonnenburg Family Funeral Home, Tomah. and at the church on Thursday from 9:30 A.M. until time of the Mass. The family requests memorials be given to the Tomah Hospice Touch % Tomah Memorial Hospital, 321 Butts Ave. Tomah, WI. A parish Rosary will be held on Wednesday at 4:00 P.M.
Online condolences may be sent to www.sonnenburgfamilyfh.com