Private Family Service

Friday, April 2, 2021

12:00 PM


Mount Hope Cemetery

Chicago, IL 

Condolences & Tributes

Laura Jean Helmer

July 10, 1922 - March 27, 2021

Laura Jean Helmer, 98, of Maple Grove, passed away Saturday, March 27, 2021, at Silver Creek on Main in Maple Grove.


Laura Helmer was born on July 10, 1922 in Chicago, IL. She went to Calumet High School and continued her education at Steven’s College in Columbia, MO. Laura graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Library Science. This degree and jobs in this field fed her absolute love for books.


Laura married Theodore (Ted) Helmer on August 16, 1947. Laura and Ted lived in Oak Lawn, IL and the family grew, first Debbie, then Mr. Chips, their first dog - an English Springer Spaniel who was so active that he had to go live with the neighbors, who had a fenced yard and no young children. Then came Dayne. They purchased their first home in Palos Heights, IL. It was here that they got their beagle, Ozzie, and where Laura worked as a librarian’s aid.


After 17 years in Palos Heights, they moved to Santa Ana, California for Ted’s job. In California, they had a beagle named Clem. They moved back to Downers Grove, Illinois to be close to their daughter during the birth of their first grandchild. Missing the love of a dog, they got an Irish Setter named Barney.


Following their daughter's move to Michigan in 1980, Laura and Ted moved to Barron Lake in Niles, Michigan. Their grandchildren spent much of their summers at this lake with them. Laura would rake the seaweed out of the swimming area (while we chanted "iced tea kills seaweed") while Ted (known as Poppy to his grandchildren) would get the boats ready for play. Great memories were made at this lake, and even greater bonds. It was here that Laura received her nickname ‘Fluffy.’ Her tween granddaughters saw a plaque in her kitchen that said, “I’m not Fat, I’m Fluffy” and from that moment on, she was endearingly called ‘Fluffy” by all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 


Ted’s heart attack had them escape harsh winters to Fort Meyers, Florida. Residing at Cross Creek Country Club, they enjoyed golf, bridge, reading (Danielle Steel) books, and the players club (acting group).  Laura even wrote a play or two for this performing group. Each year, they looked forward to spring break visits from their daughter and granddaughters. It was in Florida where they rescued their dog, Boomer. Always dog lovers, Boomer brought much joy to their retirement days.


In 2000, as Ted showed signs of Alzheimer’s, they moved to Kansas City, again to be near their daughter. Ted became a patient in a VA home for heroes, passing in 2011. Laura and Boomer followed her daughter to Minnesota, living in several senior and assisted living homes throughout the Twin Cities to be close to her daughter and granddaughter. Laura resided in Dassel, MN at the time she wrote and self-published her book, Bitter Sweet. Every Sunday, she would discuss rewrites with her daughter over vodka martinis within view of the lake, Waverly.


Laura’s writing didn’t start or end with plays or her book. Laura always enjoyed writing letters to her family and friends. This is something she did daily up until she passed. She loved opening her mailbox and receiving letters and cards from friends old and new.


Laura was preceded in death by her parents, Doreen and James (Pop Pop) Haithwaite: her husband, Theodore Helmer; her brother, Robert Haithwaite; and granddaughter, Keryn Megan Lange.


Laura is survived by her daughter, Deborah (Dave) Zitur; son, Dayne Helmer; granddaughters, Kim (Rob) Andrade, Kilee (Steven) Christnagel; great-grandchildren, Ryan, Anna, Nick, Laura, Thomas and Lucille; many nieces & nephews; granddog, Violet, great-granddogs Bubba, Wanda, and Kemma; friends that felt like family, Marilyn and Harold Westendorf; and by countless friends and pen pals.


A small memorial service for immediate family will be held noon on Friday, April 2, 2021. Interment will be held at a later date at Hope Cemetery in Illinois.


In lieu of flowers, memorials can be directed to Happy Tails Rescue of MN (tailsrescue.org) to honor Laura’s love for dogs, especially her rescued Boomer that lived an amazing 20 years.