Helen Augusta Walser passed away Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, at her home in Rochester, with her daughters by her side.
She was born on Dec. 10, 1937, at her grandparents' house in Whitman, N.D.
Helen attended a one-room schoolhouse near the farm where she grew up. She attended high school in Michigan, North Dakota, and received her registered nursing degree from the University of North Dakota College of Nursing in Grand Forks, N.D., graduating in 1958.
Helen Lillehaugen married Adolf Walser on June 15, 1959. After living in Grand Forks, St. Paul,San Antonio, Texas, Landshut, Germany, and Murnau, Germany, they settled in Rochester in 1967.
Family was most important to Helen. She will be remembered as someone who was always there to celebrate moments big and small, and who took time to really listen and support people. She was a room mother, a Girl Scout leader, a Sunday school teacher, and a caregiver. She hosted the best holidays. For Easter every year, Helen would dress up as a big blue Easter Bunny, a costume she sewed herself, and hide hundreds of eggs, to the delight of the large extended family that would visit every year.
She was also very active in her community. She served as President of the Minnesota Medical Association Alliance (MMAA), President of the Zumbro Valley Medical Society Alliance (ZVMSA), President of the Rochester Swim Club, and a member of the Bethel Lutheran Church Council.
Once, when asked what her hobbies were, Helen said simply "we help people." Over the years, Helen and Adolf hosted countless guests at their home, many of whom started out as strangers. When anyone knew of someone coming to Mayo Clinic, they were told to "call Helen and Adolf -- they can help." Helen would help arrange clinic appointments, cook special meals for people the night before a blood test, drive them to appointments, and provide friendship and support. Guests would often stay in their home for months at a time.
Helen was preceded in death by her husband, Adolf, and her parents, Tollef and Viola Lillehaugen.
She is survived by her daughters, Denise Walser-Kolar (Scott Kolar), Debby Walser-Kuntz (Jon Walser-Kuntz), and Darlene Walser (Eyenga Bokamba); six grandchildren, Alyssa Kolar-Patri (Justin Patri), Garrett Kolar, Evan Walser-Kuntz, Ryan Walser-Kuntz, Emily Walser-Kuntz, and Nicholas Kuntz (Abby Petty-Kuntz); and great-granddaughters Gabriele Kolar and Anya Patri. She is also survived by her brothers, Vern Lillehaugen (Linda), Lyle Lillehaugen (Sherry), Maynard (DeLores), and sisters Carol Jean (Jay) and Barbara (Kirk, deceased).
Helen's family would like to thank her caregivers; her neighbors who shoveled, mowed and watched over her; Seasons Hospice for their care, support, and guidance; and Rhonda and Sandi who became a part of our family over the last months.
The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at Bethel Lutheran Church in Rochester. Visitation will be from 5 pm. to 8 p.m Friday at Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home, and an hour before the funeral service at Bethel. Burial will be at Oakwood Cemetery following the service.
The family suggests memorials to Seasons Hospice (SeasonsHospice.org) or to The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (theAFTD.org).
Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes is honored to be serving the Walser family. To leave a special memory or condolence please visit www.ranfranzandvinefh.com