Helen Bell, RWCS Charter Member Dies

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Helen E. Bell, 92

Helen Elizabeth Bell, 92, died Monday, Feb. 11, at Seminary Home.
Published by the Red Wing Republican Eagle, Tuesday, Feb. 12

She was born Sept. 19, 1920, at her grandmother Barry’s house in Goodhue, Minn., the daughter of Daniel and Loretta (Barry) Bell. She moved with her family to Red Wing when she was 6 weeks old.

Helen was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Red Wing all of her life. She was active in the parish community and served as a Eucharistic minister, was chairwoman of liturgical committee for 20 years, was president of the John Ireland Club, and served as secretary of the parish council. She taught Christian doctrine to the primary grades, mainly 1st and 2nd graders, for many years, and later taught Bible study to the teenagers in the Faith Formation program. She was a Girl Scout leader for 7th and 8th graders as they worked for their special Marian Award. Helen organized and led Bible study groups for 50 years.

Helen was the parish historian for 25 years, influential in organizing and collecting church archives. She was appointed to serve on a fundraising committee, along with Willis Zignego and Joe Drake, for the building of the third Catholic Church on 7th Street. She also wrote a column in the parish newspaper called “Echoes of the Past.”

In 1960, Helen made her vows with Caritas Christi, a secular institute for women dedicated in the love of Jesus to do apostolic work.

Helen started her education when she was enrolled in 1st grade at St. Joseph Catholic School in 1927. She graduated from 8th grade and then moved on to Central High School, graduating in 1938. At the time of graduation, she received membership in the National Honor Society. In 1939, Helen decided to become a nurse and enrolled at St. Joseph Hospital in St. Paul for the 3- year program, graduating in 1942. She worked for some time in the newborn nursery at the hospital and decided to further her education in obstetrics. She did her post-graduate work at Margaret Hague Hospital in Jersey City, N.J. Following that, she returned to Minnesota and was employed at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester for 3 months in the labor and delivery department while she waited for an opening to work and care for newborn infants. The time came and she became charge nurse for premature infants. She remained there for 7 years and then went back to St. Joseph Hospital to work with preemies again.

In 1950, Helen received her degree from the University of Minnesota for nursing education, graduating with honors. She then became a member of the faculty at St. Catherine College, teaching medical nursing in the 3- and 4-year programs. In 1956, Helen became the director of nursing at the vocational school in Red Wing where she held that position for 27 years. It was a happy assignment because she had the opportunity of working with and encouraging women of all ages to become LPNs. Friendships were formed between Helen and the students that lasted even until today. They were the joys of Helen’s life.

During her years in Red Wing, Helen was very interested in community affairs. She was on the board of the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association; she served on the public library board; and she was on the faculty/advisory board for the vocational school. For many years, Helen played Mrs. Santa Claus for the City of Red Wing. Helen was a member of the Goodhue County Historical Society, serving on the women’s committee and working on newsletters.

Helen was recognized and received many awards. The Jaycees named her Educator of the Year in 1982. That same year, she received the WCCO Good Neighbor Award. She was named to the Wall of Honor at Central High School through the SOAR program.

In 1970, a group got together at the St. James Hotel Victorian Room to discuss Red Wing pottery. That evening, after much excitement and discussion, the Red Wing Collectors Society was formed. Helen was a charter member and extremely active in the yearly conventions. She had given the keynote speech, spoken at four banquets, and had presented educational sessions for members. She usually spoke under the title “Memories of a Pottery Worker’s Daughter.” Helen was elected to the Hall of Fame of the Society.

Helen is survived by twin grand-nieces, Denise and Debra Thompson of Texas; godchildren, Ann (Barry) Andersen, Patrick Maranda, Lynn (Steele) Stark, and Burnette Dressen; the Pat and Lois Barry family and the Edward and Mary Maranda family; many other cousins and friends.

Preceding Helen in death were her parents; her infant twin brother; an older brother, Bill Bell; and niece, Diane Thompson.

Mass of the Resurrection will be 11 a. m. Thursday, Feb. 14, at the Church of St. Joseph with Father Thomas Kommers officiating. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery. Visitation will be for 1 hour prior to the service at the church. Memorials preferred to Mayo Health Systems Red Wing Area Hospice or donor’s choice.

Mahn Family Funeral Home, Bodelson-Mahn Chapel, is handling arrangements. Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.mahnfamilyfuneralhome.com.