Bette Jeanne Helwig


Mrs. Richard P. Helwig, née Bette Jeanne Kilpatrick, daughter of the late Maurice M. Kilpatrick and Imogene Stone, and widow of Richard P. Helwig, died on February 11, 2020 in Sun City West, AZ. She left behind many relatives and dear friends, including her niece, Maryleigh Harris Wilson, who was with her when she passed, Maria Orasz, who was like a daughter to her, and her very closest friends Brian and Yong Houlihan.

She was born on May 20, 1923 in Port Huron, MI and attended the local schools and colleges graduating on June 19, 1943 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. During World War II she worked as a research chemist for the Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan, earning a patent in plastic research.

On June 22, 1942, on their first date, she became engaged to Richard P. Helwig, the son of the late Otto and Bridget Ward Helwig. They were married on August 22, 1945 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Port Huron, MI. They lived in Royal Oak, MI where Bette earned a degree at Wayne State University in Social Work on February 2, 1950. She worked at the Wayne County Social Department, the Baptist Children’s Home and the District Welfare Department.

In graduate school she interviewed divorced women and wrote several articles on “Divorce 10 Years Later” which were published in the “Saturday Evening Post” magazine.

In the 1950’s, she moved to New Jersey, where she and three lady friends taught, ran, painted and owned The Allendale Art School which was very successful, winning many prizes and selling their paintings as well as the paintings of their students.

In 1970, her beloved “Mommie” (her maternal grandmother) died. She had been the family historian. Bette went to college to become a genealogist. “This is My Life I & II” were the result of twenty years of research - no Xerox - computers, etc., in those days.

Bette was a member of “The Mayflower Society,” “DAR”, “Crown of Charlemagne” and 32 other historical and genealogical societies.

Richard and Bette were world travelers, earning the hundred thousand milers membership before the appearance of jet planes. During their travels they were blessed by a Shinto Priest, met many of the astronauts, two U.S. Presidents, Pope Pius XII, movie and stage stars, a chap from Nepal who played polo on an elephant and the Medal of Honor winners.

Bette’s funeral was arranged with and overseen by Sunland Memorial Park, Mortuary & Cremation Center in Sun City, AZ. Services were held at the Desert Garden United Church of Christ in Sun City West, AZ with the Reverend Len Silvester officiating. The pianist, Elaine Runkel-Swanson, played The Church in the Wildwood, The Old Rugged Cross and Nearer, My God, to Thee. The Readings included Psalms 18:1-2 and 46:1-2 and John 14:1-2 and 27. Bette was laid to rest on February 17, 2020 with her beloved husband, Richard, in Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City, AZ.