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Helen was born July 8, 1917, at Garden City, Mo., to Ervia and Fannie (Neuenschwander) Yoder.
She grew up in southeastern Colorado during the Dust Bowl and graduated from the Mennonite School of Nursing at La Junta in 1939. She worked as a nurse in Colorado, California, and Iowa.
She married James Glen Widmer on June 6, 1943, at Wayland. Throughout their 68 years together they strived to live lives of love and service to family, community, church, and God.
Upon moving to Wayland in 1946, Helen devoted herself to raising their family and supporting Glen in his medical practice and their many volunteer endeavors. She was an active member of Sugar Creek Mennonite Church and the Gideons International Auxiliary. She helped found Parkview Home and its auxiliary, Way-Mar Apartments, and Wayland Mobile Meals. She was the first canvasser for the CROP Hunger Walk in the Wayland area, and for many years she priced the jewelry as a volunteer for the Crowded Closet resale shop (to benefit Mennonite Central Committee).
She was a skilled seamstress, enjoyed knitting and crocheting, and spent hours canning and freezing Glen’s garden produce. She and Glen traveled throughout the world to see new places as well as to help those in need.
Challenges and adversity in her youth taught Helen the traits of independence and strength she passed on to her children. Her special blend of mischievous humor and concern for those less fortunate is her enduring legacy.
She is survived by six children: Gwen Widmer and husband Patrick Clancy, Kansas City, Mo.; Theodore Widmer and wife Linda Widmer, Mt. Pleasant; Jane Widmer Yoder and husband Frank Yoder, Kalona; Jean Clark and husband Dan Clark, Muscatine; James Widmer and wife Alice Widmer, Mt. Pleasant; and Janice Hadley, Wayland. She is also survived by 13 grandchildren; 11 great grandchildren; and a former exchange student and family member Madjid Nader and wife Shirin and two sons.
She was preceded in death by her husband Glen; her parents; her brother Timothy; her sister Ruby; an infant son and infant twin grandsons.
A memorial service will be at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10, at Sugar Creek Mennonite Church, Wayland. The family will receive friends 3:30-7:00 p.m. Friday at the church fellowship hall. Helen requested no flowers. Those wishing to honor Helen’s life may contribute to Parkview Home (102 N. Jackson St., Wayland, IA 52654); Mennonite Central Committee — Sewing and Tailoring Vocational Training (MCC U.S., P.O. Box 500, Akron, PA 17501); or Gideons International (P.O. Box 303, Mt. Pleasant, IA 52641).
Gwen and family, So sorry to hear of your loss, and my thoughts and prayers were and are with you. It is so hard losing mothers and fathers. And yet I guess we have been lucky to have so many memories from their long lives. Your parents were always so welcoming of others in your home; I remember many times being with you after school and eating before heading out to evening activities. And then there were your slumber parties where your mother was so patient! I always felt so at ease with your family; know that your parents were such loving people who helped so many others in so many ways. Even this little "country mouse". I put this on the website so your siblings could read it also and know they are also in my thoughts and prayers at this time. God bless you all. Cheryl Dahlquist
Cheryl Davison Dahlquist Oct 11 2015 12:00 AM
Jean, I noticed your remembrance of your mother on Facebook. Very loving comments. Knowing the good singers in your family I am sure the hymns must have sounded like angels singing to welcome your mom home. Your mom and dad were very special people in my life. If only every child in America had such loving and caring parents, the world would be a better place today. I know that you and your siblings will celebrate and cherish the great memories that she provided you. For me I will remember the times I stopped to pick up Madjid for our big outings and you mom wished us well. May the peace of God be with your family during this time. Galen
Galen Howsare Oct 8 2015 12:00 AM
I will not be able to share the visitation time with you all, but know that many are sending prayers along and have memories of special times that we have chatted.Gwen, know that a classmate is sending love along to you and your siblings.Peace be with you all and know that she is with your dad - walking all over heaven with Jesus and family who have already arrived.
ruth (Earnest) Heck Oct 7 2015 12:00 AM
Praying that treasured memories brings comfort to the family day by day. John, Rachael, Craig, Sharon, Carson, John, Graig and Christopher
The John L. Stauffer Family Oct 5 2015 12:00 AM