Helen T. Kassens, 74

Helen T. Kassens (nee Munes) of Grafton died unexpectedly on Jan. 22, 2014, at the age of 74.

Helen was the first of three daughters, born on Dec. 26, 1939, to Carl and Olga Munes of Cedarburg. Helen was blessed to have strong role models in her parents. From them, she learned the importance of God, church, family and the joy of hard work.

Helen attended St. Francis Borgia School in Cedarburg until eighth grade. This is when Helen received a calling she would need to follow. She embraced her freshman year of school by joining the Sisters of Sorrowful Mother Convent in Milwaukee. But even God knew that these plans would change. She attended the remaining high school years at Cedarburg High School. Helen loved being around people and having fun with others.  So she joined a family band and performed at events in the Ozaukee County area. She could blow a mean sax, fly on the accordion and jam on the piano.

The year 1958 brought Helen’s high school years to a close, but not her educational dreams. From high school she attended Misercordia College of Nursing in Milwaukee.  While attending college, Helen met, became best friends and fell in love with a gentleman named Herbert Kassens. In February of 1961 they became husband and wife.

Helen did not let marriage stop her career plans. She graduated from nursing school in 1962. Her nursing career began at St. Alphonsis Hospital in Port Washington. Helen and Herbie also began their family during this time.  Chris came first, followed by Cathy, Mike and David. Her life was quickly full of school functions, church, 4-H, traveling, farming and family. Their family was a close knit family that continued to grow through marriages,  grandchildren and great grandchildren.  You could see them together every 4th of July in the Cedarburg parade.
After 42 years of service as a registered nurse, “Scooter” or “Auntie Helen” (as some co-workers called her) retired from Columbia-St. Mary’s Hospital in 2005. In her retirement, she became more active than ever. She took a part-time job at Harry’s restaurant where her daughter, Cathy, worked as well. She traveled with family and friends. Helen, her daughter, Chris, and son-in-law, Jim, traveled to Scotland and Italy. Helen treated her family to a trip and cruise to Disney World in Florida. Grandma Helen took her grandchildren to Iowa to visit relatives, Wisconsin Dells and attended basketball, soccer and football games and concerts. She joyfully spent most of her spring and summer helping her grandson, Jason, on the family farm tending to a garden and selling vegetables. She also babysat for her great-grandchild, Jazmyn, and became known as Gi Gi.

But the one thing other than her family that Helen was passionate about in her retirement was giving back to others. She was always donating time and food to St. Ben’s meals and bringing her grandchildren along to serve. Helen was approached to take a mission trip with her church. After one mission trip to Los Torso Dominican Republic she was committed to making this a part of her legacy. Helen would travel on this mission trip three times in her retirement. Her service was to a young deaf man. Since she first met him, she was able to teach him sign language, get him the hearing aids that he needed and watch him begin to thrive in school.

Helen is survived by her children, Christine (Jim) Asplin, Catherine (Timothy) Werner, Michael (Juli) Kassens and David (Jessei) Kassens; grandchildren, Jason and Allison Leppla, and Taylor, Kaytlin and Brandyn Kassens, and Tyler Farver; great-grandchild, Jazmyn Leppla; sisters, Carloyn Langlois and Mary Lou Munes. Helen is further survived by nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held today, Jan. 28, 2014, at 6 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Grafton. Interment will be at the church cemetery.  Visitation will be at the church today from 3 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. A light reception will follow Mass.

Memorials to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church or Los Toros Foundation are appreciated.
Online condolences may be sent by visiting www.muellerfuneralhome.com. Mueller Funeral Home & Crematory is assisting the family.