At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Immanuel Lutheran Church Trust Fund
2 Michigan Ave. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
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Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Helen Uekert, it is easy to see that she lived life to the fullest each day. Whether she was meeting with her moms’ group, traveling with her husband, or preparing a home cooked meal for her family, she treasured every moment she shared with her family and friends. Helen was content in her life and unwavering in her faith, and it was this same faith that was the compass she used to direct her steps. Although her journey was not without times of trial, she faced everything that came her way with a quiet strength and a graceful courage that were truly inspiring. Life will never be the same without Helen here, but her timeless legacy will be carried on by those who follow in her footsteps.
It was great to be an American during the 1920s as innovation was taking us places we had never been. Things like radios, refrigerators, and motion pictures in both color and sound became part of our culture while Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh took the world of flight to new heights. Amidst this exciting time was the year 1927 when Albert and Gertrude (Merkle) Trapp were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as summer began to unfold in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The big day finally arrived when the baby girl they named Helen Marguerite drew her first breath on June 11th. She was the oldest of three children to be raised in a home at 350 Glenhaven, NW, as she was joined in her family by her younger siblings, Robert and Carole.
In many ways, Helen was a young girl of her generation. Her father worked as a tool and die maker for GM while her mother was a busy homemaker. As a family they attended Immanuel Lutheran Church, and she also attended Immanuel Lutheran School. As a family, the Trapps enjoyed hosting parties and had a huge one for every holiday. Helen went on to graduate from Union High School in 1944.
New and exciting changes were in store for Helen when she met the young man of her dreams while at Walther League, a church youth group. His name was Kenneth Uekert, and he was one year younger than she was. They soon began dating, and it wasn’t long before they found themselves deeply in love. With a desire to get married, Helen and Ken went over to her parents’ house to find her father napping on the couch. They woke him up to ask for his blessing, to which he responded, “Judas priest, I close my eyes for a minute and wake up to my daughter wanting to get married!” This became something they laughed about time and time again over the years. Helen and Ken did become husband and wife on March 31, 1951, at Immanuel Lutheran. After a honeymoon at Niagara Falls, they returned to Grand Rapids where they rented an apartment. Ken worked in tool and die while Helen worked for a local dentist.
Together Helen and Ken were blessed with three children, David in 1952, Tim in 1954, and Dan in 1956. She was a devoted mother who was an active part of her children’s lives, and her devotion to her family was unmatched. Tuesday was ceramics day as her boys remember it, and she was also active in the mother’s club at church. In order to talk about life and raising kids while having some social time, Helen also established a young mother’s group called “Stitch and Kackle.” That group continued meeting until June of 2015 when Helen couldn’t do it anymore due to health.
As her family and friends can attest, Helen was always busy doing something. She was an amazing seamstress who also enjoyed quilting, and she learned her fantastic cooking skills from her mother. Helen was famous for her Santa Claus cookies, and it has been said that meals somehow tasted better at her house. After her boys were grown, she loved having Tim and Dan and their families over for a meal, which gave her a chance to cook a big meal while also hearing everything about their week. Helen continued to enjoy hosting parties, too, which she did until just this past spring. Although she didn’t work outside of the home for much of her married life, Helen did work in customer care at Old Kent Bank from 1971 through 1987. Although she didn’t watch much television, she did like watching the Hallmark Channel, and since she wasn’t one to be idle, Helen would be doing something else at the same time. Blue Lake Public Radio was also something that she liked. Helen could often be found out tending her flowers in the back yard.
When their boys were grown, Helen and Ken bought a trailer on Bass Lake where they spent a lot of their time. They also traveled quite frequently to places like Europe on two occasions and also to Hawaii. For years Helen and Ken also spent a month in either Florida or Arizona during the winter. Ken developed complications due to pulmonary fibrosis by the time he was in his mid-sixties. This forced him to retire early. Although they had looked so forward to their retirement years, Helen was deeply saddened that she was on her own for much of these years after Ken’s death when he was only 64. Helen did what she could to make the best of being on her own for 22 years. She continued living an active lifestyle, did some traveling with her good friend, Marge Teeter, and she also relied on her family as her needs grew. Helen also volunteered with Meals on Wheels and Immanuel Quilters, a group she started at church. Together this group made quilts for Rennucci House at Spectrum Health. Three weeks ago, Helen would receive a quilt from there. In fact, it had a note attached that she had written.
All who knew Helen Uekert would agree that she was beautiful on the inside and out. She thought of others first and foremost and loved nothing more than nurturing and caring for her family. A blessing to everyone she met, Helen will be deeply missed.
UEKERT – Mrs. Helen Uekert, age 88, a beloved mother, aunt, grandmother and great- grandmother of Grand Rapids, went to be with her Lord on August 2, 2015. Surviving are her sons, David (Gayel) of Denver CO, Timothy (Katherine) and Daniel (Valorie) both of Grand Rapids; six granddaughters, Rachel (John) Fink, Elizabeth (Craig) Kaschube, Megan (Reuben) Janssens, Amanda, Jessica, and Hillary Uekert and one grandson David Uekert. Four great- grandchildren; Jackson Fink, Caleb and Katrina Kaschube, and Sterling Janssens. Helen was preceded in death by her husband Ken; sister, Carole Bartusch; and brother, Bob Trapp. She was a life-long member of Immanuel Lutheran Church where she served at the Immanuel Community Breakfast, on the Alter Guild for over 25 years and was part of the Immanuel Quilters. A celebration of Helen’s life will be held at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 2 Michigan Street, at 7:00 pm on Wednesday August 5, 2015. There will be a visitation one hour prior beginning at 6:00 pm. Tributes in Helen’s memory may be made to the Immanuel Lutheran Trust fund or to Avenue’s by Porter Hills. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read her lifestory, archive a memory, photo, or sign the guestbook online.