Helen Magdalene Heintzelman
Nov. 25, 1919 - April 3, 2017
SOUTH BEND - A deep love for art, reading, service, travel, friends, and family shaped the life of Helen Magdalene (Giebler) Heintzelman. Always happy to learn new things and devoted to friends and family, she helped many people through her work with special-needs children, crafts projects, and a generous spirit.
Helen was born in Hays, Kansas, on November 25, 1919, as the youngest of three children to Henry Peter Giebler and Gertrude (Dorney) Giebler. After thirteen years in St. Marys, Kansas, the family moved to Hays, where Helen attended high school and majored in Art and Home Economics at Fort Hays State College (1941). After graduation, she followed her siblings to Washington, D.C., where she worked in a government office. In 1942, she returned to Hays, but soon moved with her parents to a farm near Billings, Missouri. Helen attended a program in Occupational Therapy at the University of Illinois in 1944-1945.
Upon graduating she was assigned to Mayo General Hospital in Galesburg, Illinois, where she met Captain James Heintzelman of South Bend, Indiana. They were married in Billings on June 10, 1946, and moved to South Bend, where she remained. Their life was blessed through four children, Myra Jean, Joseph Henry, Philip Charles, and Matthew David (now Zitzewitz). Although focused on family life in the 1950's and 1960's, she continued to pursue crafts, making matching Easter dresses for Myra Jean and herself, as well as helping with Camp Fire Girls, Cub Scouts, School Men's Wives Club, and the Christ Child Society.
In the 1970's, Helen volunteered at an Easter Seals Society preschool for children with special needs. She later directed the school and retired in 1981. For a short while she and her daughter Myra were the only registered mother-and-daughter occupational therapists in the state of Indiana. She also focused much attention on her grandchildren.
Helen and James loved to travel and go camping with their fold-up trailer, visiting much of the United States and parts of Canada. They visited Austria, Germany, and Italy in 1977 and 1981. While sightseeing always fascinated them, visiting friends and family was central to their journeys.
After James' death in 1988, Helen found more time for grandchildren and visiting Myra in Indianapolis. She continued art classes and participated in an exhibit at the Battell Community Center in 1999. After Myra's death in 2006, Helen lived with Joseph and Karen Heintzelman, later moving to Tanglewood and then to Wellbrooke. Until recently, Helen displayed a sunny disposition mixed with a gentle and inviting sense of humor that proved contagious.
Preceding Helen in death were her parents, brother, Bernhard, and sister, Henriette, husband, James, and daughter, Myra Jean. She is survived by her three sons, Joseph (Karen), Philip of South Bend, and Matthew (Marianne Zitzewitz) of Saint Cloud, Minnesota; as well as eight grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.
The family would like to thank the staff at Wellbrooke and at Memorial Hospital for the care given to Helen in her final years and days. Funeral services will be held at 10: 00 a.m. Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Holy Cross Catholic Church. Burial will follow at Highland Cemetery. Friends may visit with the family Friday from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Welsheimer Family Funeral Home, 521 N. William St. Memorial contributions in her memory may be made to the Christ Child Society.
E-Mail condolences may be made at www.welsheimer.com.
Charitable donations may be made in Helen's memory to the following organization:
Christ Child Society
308 S. Scott St., South Bend, IN, 46601