James R. “Helge” Helgeson, 73, of Independence, died Friday, January 13, 2017 at Azura Memory Care, Eau Claire.
Jim was born July 10, 1943 in Whitehall, to Robert and Rita (Lyga) Helgeson. He married his high school sweetheart Pauline Roskos on February 5, 1966 at SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Independence.
Jim graduated from Independence High School in 1961. He began his career as a bricklayer for the Orville Madsen Construction Company, Hudson, Wis. He finished his career working for Market and Johnson Construction Company for many years as a bricklayer foreman. He led the masonry work on numerous buildings throughout the Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota areas.
Jim had a deep appreciation for nature, spending countless hours volunteering his time growing and caring for trees at Pietrek Park, improving the local trout streams and serving on the Rod and Gun Club.
Jim was an avid outdoorsman where he treasured spending time with friends and family hunting, trapping and fishing. He served on the Independence Volunteer Fire Department for 29 years, helping his community in times of need.
Jim was a man of deep faith and had passion for preserving the SS. Peter and Paul Parish grounds and church. He was an artistic and creative craftsman. He enjoyed woodworking, building things like bird houses, lighthouses, decorative benches and shadow boxes.
Jim was an engaging storyteller and historian, sharing countless memories and facts from his past. He had a tremendous sense of humor and always had friends laughing during his stories, especially during the countless hours charcoaling chicken at local events.
Jim was extremely generous, giving his time and talent to others. He enjoyed taking ice cream and fruit to children and families in rural Independence. He had a one of a kind personality, was the life of the party and will be missed by all those whose lives he touched.
The family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Jim’s lifelong pal, Charles Schorbahn, for his friendship.
A special thank you to Paul Winey, PA and staff at Franciscan Skemp Clinic in Arcadia, and to the caregivers and staff at Azura Memory Care for the wonderful care and compassion that was shown to Jim and his family.
Jim is survived by his loving wife for over fifty years, Pauline of Independence; two sons, Craig (Lana) Helgeson of Brainerd, Minn. and Scott (Angie) Helgeson of Woodbury, Minn.; daughter, Camilla (Ron) Pietrek of Onalaska; five brothers, Michael (Patricia) Helgeson of Oak Creek, Jack (Anne) Helgeson of Independence, Tom (Kris) Helgeson of Eau Claire, Mark (Patti) Helgeson of Independence and Greg (Carolyn) Helgeson of Eau Claire; two sisters, Katie Lee of Independence and Ellen (Rob) Irving of Budapest, Hungary; five grandchildren, Cullen Helgeson, Cara Helgeson, Ben Pietrek, Claudia Carlson and Stephanie Helgeson.
He was preceded in death by his parents and brother-in-law, Lonnie Lee.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 21, 2017 at SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Independence, with Very Rev. Woodrow H. Pace officiating. Burial, with military rites, will be in the church cemetery.
Visitation will be held from 4-8 p.m. Friday, with a prayer service and rosary at 7:30 p.m., at Edison Funeral Home, Independence, and one hour prior to the Mass at the church on Saturday.
Memorials are suggested to SS. Peter and Paul Catholic School or church.
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