Helen K. Dutmer
August 29, 1920 – January 19, 2020
HELEN K. DUTMER August 29, 1920 – January 19, 2020 Our beloved “Memo,” Helen K. Dutmer, passed peacefully from this earth on January 19, 2020. She was born in San Antonio, Texas on August 29, 1920, the daughter of Edward F. and Ida (Borchers) Pfeil. She attended San Antonio Vocational and Technical School Class of 1938 where she obtained a degree in cosmetology. In 1944 at a USO Club dance, Helen met the love of her life, John “Jack” F. Dutmer. They married on October 24, 1945 in Battle Creek, Michigan. When Jack’s tour of duty as a WWII Army pilot ended, they returned to Helen’s treasured birthplace with her daughter, Lois. Helen worked with Jack at their company, Jack Dutmer Industrial Lubricants, for 42 years. She also worked as a secretary for 19 years at various attorney offices and as a cosmetologist for 6 years. Helen embraced her role as a loving grandparent to Lois’ children, John, Martha and Daniel and was instrumental in their upbringing. It was in the early 1970’s while attending weekly City Council meetings that Helen discovered her voice and passion as an advocate for growth and progress on the Southside of San Antonio. Her tenacity and love for community led her to a seat on the City Council District 3 in 1977 where she served for 14 years. She kept her eye on the future while serving on the San Antonio Planning Commission, Housing Task Force, Transportation Steering Committee and the Southern Section Target 90 Commission among other civic activities. Her love for San Antonio’s heritage was apparent in her vigorous work with the Mission Neighborhood Council, The Mission Task Force, San Antonio Conservation Society and her service on the board of the SA Missions National Park. She actively participated in the renovation of four San Antonio Missions. During her tenure, Helen tirelessly supported and promoted our Fire and Police Departments along with many, many noteworthy causes. “Tell It Like It Is Helen” earned the respect of her adversaries and constituents alike. The relationships she fostered remained strong long after her departure from City Council and into her position as Bexar County Commissioner for Precinct 4 in 1991 as the first woman to serve on the court in its 200-year history. She narrowly lost her bid for re-election to Mike Novak in 1994 but continued to receive recognition and accolades from local, national and international organizations, leaders and personalities. Helen was named Woman of the Year by the South Bexar County Chamber of Commerce in 1975 and received the 1980 Women Helping Woman Award from Soroptimist of San Antonio and the South Central Region. She was named Business Woman of the Year by the San Antonio Business and Professional Women Group in 1981, and Texas Business Woman of the year in 1982, honored with a life membership to the 62nd Troop Carrier Squadron with an honorary rank of colonel. In 1985, Helen was inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame. Also known as the “Margaret Thatcher of City Council,” in 1988, Helen took on a controversial campaign against building the Alamodome. An interesting 2013 interview of her recollection of that period can be found at https://therivardreport.com/the-alamodome-wrong-project-at-the-wrong-time/. She was also honored as a Life Member of the San Antonio Livestock Exposition in 1990.
Helen served on numerous Boards including Wayland-San Antonio’s Advisory Board, the Bexar County Board of Directors for Appraisal, the San Antonio Water Board’s Grievance Commission, Crime Stoppers, the San Antonio Council of Presidents and B&PW Local District. In 2011, Helen was the recipient of an honorary doctorate degree from Wayland Baptist University San Antonio with glowing recommendations from her co-Board members: “I have lived in San Antonio for 36 years, and I cannot recall any public servant who has championed more causes that appealed to and protected the city and county constituency. We need another generation like hers that develop common sense values and strong investments of commitment into the lives of others.” - Tommy Lyons “Name the qualities you’re looking for in a leader and Helen has them – all of them. She’s enthusiastic, creative, positive and forthright. Helen is also a master motivator. But her sincerity and genuine affection for Wayland and the students are most notable for their influence on those who serve with her. Helen imparts wisdom, stimulates thought and calls for action. She’s a doer!” - Brent Boller Well into her 90’s, she remained a beloved figure on San Antonio’s Southside and actively served on various civic boards, including City of San Antonio’s Board of Adjustment and SAWS’s Grievance Commission. In the last 5 years since her husband Jack passed, she enjoyed being outdoors, reading the daily paper and taking care of her cats. She cherished every member of her growing family, as they did her, and was most proud of her great-granddaughter, Wendi, who earned her PhD in Criminal Justice in 2011. Helen will be remembered as a fierce opponent and a robust advocate with a sharp wit and ready humor. She truly loved her home town and was a faithful servant to the very end. Helen is preceded in death by her parents, brother Edward F. Pfeil, Jr., sister Lucille Pfeil, her loving husband of 70 years, Jack, and daughter, Lois Brackeen. She is survived by niece Shelley (Pfeil) Leister, her grandchildren - John Pollock (Paula), Martha Pollock (Roy Nentwich) and Daniel LeBlanc; great-grandchildren - Wendi Pollock (Meredith Melville), Lane Pollock, Dawn (Dupree) Goudreau (Scot), Jeffrey Depree (Alejandra), Douglas Nentwich (Brandy), Katherine Nentwich and Christopher LeBlanc; great-great grandchildren Tobias Depree, Olive Depree, William Goudreau, Margo Goudreau, Jorden Nentwich, Spencer Nentwich and Makayla Cuellar. While our hearts are heavy that she is no longer with us, we are comforted in the knowledge that Helen is now at peace, reunited in Heaven with Jack and the loved ones gone before her. The family expresses its sincere appreciation and gratitude to Rueben with TenderCare Hospice. A memorial service and celebration of Helen’s life will take place on Thursday, January 30, 2020 at 2 pm at Sunset Memorial Northwest Funeral Home located at 6321 Bandera Road in San Antonio, Texas.
- John F. Dutmer, Husband (deceased)
- Lois Brackeen, Daughter (deceased)
- Shelley (Pfeil) Leister, Niece
- John ((Paula) Pollock, Grandson
- Martha (Roy Nentwich) Pollock, Granddaughter
- Daniel LeBlanc, Grandson
- Wendi (Meredith Melville) Pollock, Great Granddaughter
- Lane Pollock, Great Grandson
- Katherine Nentwich, Great Granddaughter
- Christopher LeBlanc, Great Grandson
- Dawn (Scott) Goudreau, Great Granddaughter
- Katherine Nentwich, Great-granddaughter
- Jeffrey (Alejandra) Depree, Great Grandson
- Douglas (Brandy) Nentwich, Great Grandson
- Makayla Cuellar, Olive Depree, Great-great grandchildren
- William Goudreau, Olive Goudreau, Great-great grandchildren
- Jorden Nentwich, Spencer Nentwich, Great-great grandchildren
- Visitation Thursday, January 30, 2020
- Celebration of Life Thursday, January 30, 2020
Helen K. Dutmer
January 30, 2020
Helen was always a strong community representative, a fighter for what she thought was best for her constituency, rather than to compromise her principles or to get along with the powers-that-be.
She will be held as a great example of community leadership for this generation and the next. May she rest in peace for a job well done.
January 29, 2020
Had many interesting conversations with Helen in her home. She left an indelible memory with so many in a multitude of ways...not only regarding family, friends, constituents & politicians, but with the City of San Antonio as a whole with her heart always belonging to the Southside/Southeast side (District 3 & Precinct 4). RIP...
January 28, 2020
Such fond memories of a great lady and her husband. In the 1950s Jack and my father Bob Luckett worked together as home-delivery route supervisors for Foremost Dairy. We lived on Hicks Ave., only a block-and-a-half from the Dutmer house on McKinley (long before I-37 split the neighborhood). Many were the evenings when after supper our family would stroll over to visit Jack and Helen. We kids enjoyed the time, for as the parents visited, we could play in the so large yard beside their house--without constant admonitions to stay out of the street. Helen and my mother were friends and maintained that friendship for many years. I of course grew up and left San Antonio for 30 years, but when I returned in 2001 one of the first visits was to Jack and Helen. While I told them of my life while away, perhaps boasting a bit, Helen smiled, touched my cheek, and said, "Just remember, I changed your diaper." That I did not remember, but her comment reminded me that what we become is based upon those who loved and guided us in our youth. Thankfully Helen and Jack were there in my youth. I loved them and will remember them always. Larry Luckett
Norma & Arthur Rodriguez
January 28, 2020
I had the great privilege of serving as City Clerk for the City of San Antonio and proud to have called Councilwoman Dutmer , my boss. Before she was elected Councilwoman, she along with her mom would be at all our City Council meetings. You could count on Councilwoman Dutmer to have a strong opinion on many issues and often proven right. She was a strong and forceful voice for her District and in fact all of San Antonio. She was also very supportive of women in managerial positions. My husband and I were blessed to call her and Jack dear friends and often traveled together for City related seminars and meetings. The love of family was always part of our conversations and Jack's sense of humor and Helen's wit were always the highlight of our trips. We will forever miss them both and thankful for their friendship and support and the many wonderful memories we made together!! Norma and Arthur Rodriguez
January 28, 2020
What a lady. I met Helen at her home when I patrolled the east side of SA. I associate words that would describe Helen like decisive, strong willed, interesting and pure class.
RIP my friend.
January 28, 2020
The San Antonio Highland Park Lions Club wishes to express deepest sympathy with the loss of its member, Helen Dutmer. She was a long time member of the club where she performed many duties and services for the citizens of San Antonio, She will be missed tremendously.
January 27, 2020
My heart is heavy and I share in your grief over the passing of such a wonderful woman. Mrs. Helen Dutmer was one of my first heroes. As a kid growing up in the late 70’s it was inspiring to see such an outspoken, forward thinking and assertive woman in public service. A true San Antonio gem~She will be missed!
Jo Ellyn Krueger
January 27, 2020
I am lost for words at the moment! I have seen Helen recently and I knew this day would come.
I was named after John & Helen , Jo from John , and Ellyn for Helen . She sold my Dad & Mom their first house on Mc Kinley , where Helen lived till she passed! I was raised with her grandchildren and we all adored her! She was very giving and looked after everyone !
I will always remember her as a very proud and strong women, who would fight for what she believed in!
Rest In Peace Auntee Helen , we loved you dearly❤️❤️❤️
January 27, 2020
Helen Dutmer was always a strong advocate for the south side of town. On any issue, if she was in our corner, we could not hope for a harder fighter.
Gloria Pfeil Madison
January 27, 2020
My Grandad, William D. Pfeil , was a brother to Helen’s dad. My Dad, Willard Pfeil, and Helen were first cousins. We lived not far from them and spent a lot of time visiting when my sister and I were younger. Lost contact after moving from San Antonio 23 years ago but always felt a special connection with Helen and remember she was no nonsense but also a lot of fun. What a wonderful life and wonderful legacy, almost 100 years. A special lady for sure.
January 27, 2020
Thank you for your service to the south east side. I was a teenager and remember hearing about you.
January 26, 2020
Helen was quite the community leader. She was friendly with my family and will really be missed. May she rest in peace.
January 25, 2020
My most fond memory is visiting her and BoBo at their house. We would go out to dinner (at their favorite place) and then go back and play cards. I know that she is leaving a big hole in many hearts and I pray for peace in this time.
January 23, 2020
Aunt Helen was a wonderful woman. We visited quite a few times in years past. Always enjoyed her hospitality and all the wonderful stories she and Uncle Jack told us. She will be sadly missed by the Dutmer family. RIP Aunt Helen, you are with your beloved Jack🙏
January 22, 2020
One of the strongest and smartest women I ever knew. Prayers to the family.