Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Many of you know, my Gram died last week. I thought a fun way to honor her might be to share her obituary. Truth be told, I learned things about her that I didn't know at her funeral on Thursday.
Helga Amalia McClain, 104 years of age from the Balsam Lake area, passed away on March 8, 2010 at the St. Croix Regional Medical Center in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin.
Helga was born on February 28, 1906 in the township of Johnstown, Polk County, Wisconsin to William and Concordia (Hoppe) Mohwinkel. She grew up in the Pipe Lake area and attended the Pipe Lake Public School from which she graduated in 1920. From then on she attended and graduated from Cumberland High School and in the spring of 1923 she moved to St. Paul with her parents where she finished her education at the Rasmussen Business College. On March 21, 1925, she married Charles “Cliff” McClain and when he graduated from the Medical School of Technology as a Biologist and Laboratory Technician. In January of 1926 they moved to Chicago where Mr. McClain had employment in a hospital. Helga worked as a bookkeeper at Marshall Fields and also did some modeling for Marshall Fields as well. While in Chicago, both of their children were born, Charles William in December of 1926 and Shirley Anne in July of 1928.
When the Great Depression set in, and salaries got too low to continue living in Chicago, families started to double up. They moved to a big farm in Indiana where several others of the family joined them. By 1933, they returned to the Balsam Lake area and bought the farm where she now lived. They moved to St. Paul for a few years to earn enough money to get established in the home that became hers until her death, living there permanently since 1953.
Helga’s Christian teaching started in her parent’s home and in Christ Lutheran Church at Pipe Lake. Later when they moved to Chicago, on January 2, 1927, she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior. She kept her faith all these years, working in many churches wherever they went, sang in the choirs, trios and duets. Music was her greatest pleasure, along with her family. She enjoyed cooking and feeding friends and neighbors, embroidering, crocheting, and driving children to Sunday school. She was a member of the East Balsam Baptist Church and was the oldest member.
Helga had a special dedication and commitment to exposing children to the gospel.
Helga leaves to celebrate her memory: daughter, Shirley McClain-Duffert of Balsam Lake, grandson, Charles Duffert and his wife Kathleen, one granddaughter, Elizabeth Roberts and her husband Dennis, ten great grandchildren: Erin Desvousges and her husband Richard, Lauren Krebsbach and her husband Ryan, McClain Duffert, Daniel Roberts and his wife Kami, Aaron Roberts, Sarah Roberts, Elise Roberts, Matthew Roberts, Amy Roberts and Jesse Roberts, two great-great grandchildren: Shirley Jean Desvousges and Kohlee Anne Roberts, many nieces, nephews and other loving family and friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, Charles "Cliff" McClain, her son, Charles William McClain and her daughter-in-law Raenell McClain and five brothers and two sisters and their spouses.
Helga will be laid to rest next to her husband Cliff at the Balsam Lake Cemetery.
. . .
Gram truly had a heart for children and the spiritual gift of hospitality. I'm not sure that I would be a Christian today if not for her. I know God calls us each, but I believe he used Gram as a tool to call me.
I will miss her.


carole said...

What a nice tribute to your Gram! It is hard to adjust to the gap left in our lives when a loved one is no longer with us.

I was encouraged when I read about the families all moving together to a farm in Indiana. I am all for family compounds! I am always advocating for/trying to get all my family to think it is a cool idea too.

Jodi said...

What a beautiful way to remember someone so special.

Anonymous said...

Erin, thanks for sharing that lovely obit about your gram. I'm sorry for your loss. Do you have any pix of her with your little girl? That would be way cool.

Laurie S.

Kelli said...

Erin, sweet story. I love the fact that she was a brain, a beauty and had a heart for Christ. What a gift to have that legacy in your family.

Kara Jo said...

I'm a little choked up. Loved reading about your Gram, Erin. She was a special lady who contributed much to the world and to her family & friends...and modeling for Marshall Fields--who knew?! :)