C. Helen Schwalbe, 85
Dec. 10, 1930 — Oct. 11 , 2016
C. Helen (Denton) Schwalbe, a longtime resident of Cedarburg, was called to her permanent heavenly home on Oct. 11, 2016.
Cletus Helen was born on Dec. 10, 1930, to Loran George and Catherine Vivian (nee Hayes) Denton, on a farm in Dallas Center, Iowa. During the 30s, her father borrowed a grain truck, packed up the family and belongings, and moved to nearby Grimes, Iowa, where Mom spent her youth and young adulthood. In high school she held a four-year varsity letter in basketball as point guard and captain of her team. She worked summers de-tasseling corn and late summer and fall, she was employed at the local canning factory. A 1948 Grimes High School graduate, she was valedictorian of her class of 12. During senior, year she also taught kindergarten through fifth grade.
Eventually, Mom moved to Madison, where she worked as a waitress at the Ace of Clubs. She met our father, a young, handsome chef, and married him on Oct. 1, 1956. Their adventure as partners ended when our father passed away on April 17, 2005.
From Madison, our parents moved to Poynette, Milwaukee, Mequon and finally to Cedarburg in 1964, her “most favorite place to live.” They were blessed to find a beautiful, old stone house in Historic Hamilton, large enough for their nine children.
She was employed at Boder’s on the River, first as a waitress and later hostess for many years. In 1972, both parents opened the first business located in the Cedarburg Mill called the Cedar Creek Mill General Store. Their store was a venerable place for commerce and community.
Mom engaged in volunteerism early in family life by first becoming a Boy Scout den mother for her sons, and as an Ozaukee County Girls Club leader and later president for her daughters. She also sang tenor with the local choral group, Cedar Singers.
Our mother’s keen eye and sensibilities for historic preservation were instrumental in helping to save the Hamilton district from disastrous destruction when a proposed widening of Green Bay Road, along with a new bridge, threatened the many fine wood and stone structures of this quiet hamlet. Her efforts, along with many kindred spirits, saved at least eight major structures. This led to the placing of her home, and other properties into the National Register of Historic places. Their citizen-driven actions insured a rich architectural and historical legacy for generations to enjoy. Subsequently she served for many years on the Ozaukee County Historical Society Board, and with distinction on the town of Cedarburg Landmarks Commission, for which she was awarded a commendation in 2003. Our mother was a longtime volunteer for Pioneer Village, serving on its board and demonstrating her basketry skills in the annual fall Handwerker Schau. She was the first female board member of the Cedarburg Chamber of Commerce and later served as first woman president. Upon retiring from the General Store she had an active business of chair caning until the age of 82, having learned this skill from her parents as a young woman. She performed the art of rush weaving, wicker replacement and repair with perfection. Many dealers and individuals entrusted the restoration of their heirlooms or Maxwell Street finds to her skillful hands. Our mom’s work ethic sent a strong message to her children, “You were not born with a silver spoon in your mouth.”
A little over three years ago, due to illness, Mom reluctantly left her beloved home and moved to Willowbrook Assisted Living in Thiensville. She enjoyed making new friends in her congregate living community.
She is preceded in death by her husband Eugene, her parents, sister Joy (Mel), and brother Charles (Connie). Our mother leaves behind her children Vincent (Emy), David (Laurie), Tim (Svetlana), Christine Beach, Shellie (Jeff) Olson, Jacquie (Steve) Garrett, Catherine Schwalbe, Charity Schwalbe and Amy (Bruce) Resnick, 14 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. She also leaves behind in-law siblings, cousins, special nieces and nephews and many dear friends.
The family wishes to express heartfelt gratitude to the staff of Columbia St. Mary’s ICU, Dr. Christopher Budney and Horizon Hospice for their gentle, person-centered care.
Our mother, with her infectious roaring laughter, filled with grace, her giving heart and strong, warm hugs will be missed by many. Her creativity, appreciation of beauty, hospitality, reverence for old things and unlimited resourcefulness therein will always be remembered. Our mother, grandmother and great-grandmother will be dearly missed.
Funeral service will be held on Saturday, Oct. 15, at noon at Mueller Funeral Home & Crematory, W63 N527 Hanover Ave., Cedarburg. Visitation will be held on Saturday at the funeral home from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Interment will be at Immanuel Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please consider the Humane Society or your favorite charity.
For online condolences, please go to www.muellerfuneralhome.com.