Bette Jeanne Helwig
May 20, 1923 – February 11, 2020
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, Arizona. She was born on May 20, 1923 in Port Huron, Michigan and attended the local schools and colleges graduating on June 19, 1943 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. During World War I 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, Michigan. They lived in Royal Oak, Michigan where Betty 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.
- Funeral Service Monday, February 17, 2020
Bette Jeanne Helwig
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February 18, 2020
Great Aunt Bette, despite living many miles away, always seemed close because she kept in contact with me. We corresponded back and forth for years and she would often include gifts with her letters.
Many of the gifts had even greater value because she made them. She made me jewelry, Barbie clothes, and even jewelry for my Barbie dolls.
Before she moved to Arizona she made me a fantastic doll house and spared no expense with all of the details she put into it, from the claw-foot bathtub to the dinner plates the size of dimes. That was one of the most treasured items I had as a child.
When I turned sixteen she gave me a necklace, bracelet, and pair of earrings made of garnet. She said she hoped they would bring me luck when I took my driver's education test.
She was talented at many of the projects she took on and I appreciated the time and detail she put into all the things she created and gave to me.
February 16, 2020
I met Bette about 14 years ago. Her husband,Dick, passed away about 6 months before I met her. I had only been in Arizona about 6 months. I know God put Bette in my life because she was a recent widow, and I hadn’t met any friends yet in Arizona. We became like family. I will never forget her love for me, her generosity, and her sense of humor. RIP dear friend. I will see you in paradise and we can go shopping again. I love you. Nancy