Helen Louise LaLeike

Helen Louise LaLeike, 80, passed away on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010.

She died from complications of throat cancer, with which she was diagnosed approximately a year ago.

Born on Sept. 29, 1929, in Wausau to Eleanor (Swenson) and Robert Offerdahl, she grew up and attended elementary and high school in Stevens Point. She graduated from Central State Teachers’ College, Stevens Point, in 1951.

Helen married Fred La-Leike on Aug. 12, 1950, and was a homemaker and mother while they lived in Stevens Point, Harvard, Ill., Lodi and Weyauwega. They moved to West Bend in 1957. She worked as a substitute teacher in West Bend until 1962, and then was the librarian at Barton Elementary School until 1970. She then became the librarian at Badger Middle School, where she worked until her retirement in 1990.

While her children were growing up, she volunteered as a Brownie, Girl Scout and Cub Scout leader. She was also active in the education department at Trinity Luthe-ran Church, teaching Sun-day school and Catechism classes. After her retirement, she volunteered as a reading tutor at Fair Park Elementary School. From 2006-2007, Helen volunteered at the Washington County Historical Society, helping to photograph and catalogue the collections of items housed in the former county jail and sheriff’s residence.

Throughout her married life, she traveled extensively. She visited most of the United States, spent summer vacations and other times in Mexico, and also toured most of Central and South Ameri-ca, Spain and Portugal. Her favorite place of all was the shoreline of Lake Michigan in Door County, where her family had owned land since she was a teenager.

Helen was an accomplished, highly skilled knitter, photographer and cook. She also delighted in bird watching and gardening. In high school, she won awards at the state level for her flute playing.

She was preceded in death by her parents and step-father, Clifford Nebel; her husband, Fred; her son, Alan; and three brothers-in-law and one sister-in-law. Helen is survived by her daughter, Susan, and son-in-law, Charles; a granddaughter; three sisters-in-law; and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews; and many dear and loyal friends.

Helen moved to Florida in 2007, having lost both her husband and son to cancer within 5 1/2 months of each other a little more than a year previously. There, she enjoyed fresh avocados, grapefruit, tangerines and papayas from the trees in her yard until she could no longer eat or drink because of the throat cancer. She passed away in her bedroom overlooking her garden of fruit trees on a beautiful, warm, sunny Florida winter day, in the company of her daughter and one of her nurses. She smiled repeatedly during her last few minutes, truly beautiful smiles.

The family wishes to thank all the friends and relatives who helped to keep her spirits up during the past few difficult months. Thanks also to those who prayed for her, and to the nurses and doctors who guided her care and made her last weeks at home so special. The family apologizes to those who were still unaware of her illness until after she died; Helen expressly requested that no one be informed of her illness, though of course some did find out.
Respecting Helen’s wishes, there will be no services.

In lieu of flowers or other condolences, memorials are respectfully requested to be made to the LaLeike Family Scholarship c/o COLUMNS, P.O. Box 397, West Bend, WI, 53095. Formerly known as the Fred LaLeike Scholarship, Fred taught Spanish at West Bend High School until 1990; Helen, library science; Alan (class of 1974), pursued criminal justice; Susan (class of 1969, is a midwife. The scholarship name and criteria will be restructured prior to the awards for 2011, encompassing those disciplines.

We want to carry on our family’s tradition of providing and enjoying excellent educational opportunities; thank you for your assistance in achieving this.