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Basler, Helen (Hexom) 1924 - 2022


Posted By: Joy Moore (email)
Date: 5/14/2022 at 11:52:59

Beloved mother, Helen Basler (née Hexom), of Northbrook, IL, formerly of Decorah, IA, was called home to be with her Heavenly Father on May 2, 2022, and rejoin her husband of 44 years, Erv Basler, and her extensive circle of family and friends who have long awaited her. Funeral services, interment, and reception will be held on Saturday May 14, 2022, at 10:30 AM at Glenwood Lutheran Church in rural Decorah, IA. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in her memory at World Central Kitchen (http://wck.org), Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (http://lirs.org), or Direct Relief International (https://www.directrelief.org/). Martin-Grau Funeral Home in Waukon, IA, is assisting the family.

Helen began life during a raging blizzard on February 13, 1924, at her family’s NE Iowa dairy farm to the relief and delight of her mother Emma (née Johnson), father Carl David Hexom, and her older siblings: George, Arnold, Esther, Florence, and Mabel (brother Carleton arrived a year later). They were a second-generation Norwegian family whose grandparents migrated to America in the 1870s, established their homestead, and prospered in their new community near Decorah, IA. Helen and her siblings attended the Bell School, a one-room rural schoolhouse in Union Prairie Township, and went to Norwegian school in the summer months. She was baptized and confirmed at Glenwood Lutheran Church. Helen’s large extended clan enjoyed many Hexom and Johnson get-togethers, and annual family reunions were cherished traditions she loved to promote throughout her life.

Helen attended Decorah High School, class of 1940. She yearned for a larger stage to pursue her dreams, so upon graduation, she enrolled in the college of nursing at the University of Iowa, and then moved to Chicago to seek a job. She was soon employed by a well-known surgeon, Dr. Urkov, and often worked weekends at Marshall Field’s. In her spare moments, she enjoyed exploring the city and its many cultural venues.

At a dance at the Aragon Ballroom celebrating the end of WWII, she met the love of her life and future husband, Erv. He was smitten by her charms and beauty, and she by his handsome smile and ambition. They married on July 6, 1947, at the Glenwood Lutheran Church and settled down in the Edgebrook neighborhood of Chicago to raise three children: Adrienne, Ed, and Dennis. Helen continued her devotion to the Lutheran church there, participating as a Sunday school teacher and a choir and women’s circle member, and was active in many community endeavors, including PTA, garden club, Meals on Wheels, and other service organizations. Her focus was always upon family, friends, and faith. She loved giving cards and flowers and kept all the notes she received.

Following the birth of their youngest son, Brian, Helen and Erv moved to a several acre property in the northern suburbs to begin a new chapter in Northbrook, IL. There they developed a spectacular garden, whose bounty Helen shared with friends and neighbors as well as the residents of the Covenant Living retirement community. She sang with the Melodeers, an award-winning Sweet Adelines acapella chorus, and enjoyed their weekly practices and annual national competitions. Helen especially loved her friends and faith community at Northbrook Covenant Church, where she also served as deacon.

After losing her husband to ALS in 1991, Helen regrouped and turned her attention back to her roots in Decorah, IA. She acquired her family homestead, Happy Acres, an Iowa centennial farm, and continued to be a good steward of the land. A few years later, a handsome Victorian house built in 1900 by her great-uncle caught her eye, and Helen embarked upon an ambitious restoration of the home and property. Her appetite for historical restoration was just getting started. At age 73, she had the vision to bring the Hotel Winneshiek in downtown Decorah back to its former glory. This multi-year extensive restoration effort, along with her refurbishment of the adjacent 150 year-old opera house, created a new focus of pride and activity in town. Helen was also a faithful supporter of Glenwood Lutheran Church, Luther College, Winneshiek Medical Center, and various community projects. She was honored with the Spirit of Luther Award in 2006 from Luther College for significant sustained service to the college. Helen loved Decorah and always looked forward to entertaining family and friends every year during the annual Nordic Fest.

Helen is survived by daughter Adrienne (John O’Donnell); sons: Ed (Cathi), Dennis (Donna), and Brian (Cathy); 10 grandchildren and their spouses: Darcy (Romain Capelle) and Courtney (Dan Titcomb) O’Donnell; Charlene (Dale Spencer), Joanne (Justin Neumaier), Julian (Christine) and Hayley (Elias Serruya) Basler; Hill Basler; and Erik, Jocelyn, and Abigail Basler; and10 great-grandchildren to carry on her legacy: Joseph, Julia, Jasper, and Juniper Neumaier, Elijah and Evelyn Basler, Shai, Aviv, and Lyla Serruya, and Tucker Titcomb.

Source: Martin Funeral Home database

Glenwood Cemetery

Winneshiek Obituaries maintained by Bruce Kuennen.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen

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