Helen E. Rhode, 88, passed away unexpectedly, but peacefully at her Menominee, Mich., home early on Wednesday, September 18, 2013. Helen was born in Knapp, Wis. on August 11, 1925, to the late Mathilda Helen (Marten) Kidrick and James Robert Kidrick.
She graduated from Tomah High School in 1943 and attended a post-secondary program in La Crosse, Wis. During World War II Helen worked as an airplane mechanic for Columbia Aircraft in Oregon and Boeing in Washington. Later she became a telephone operator/supervisor working in several locations, including Tomah, Stevens Point, Hustisford, Mautson, and Janesville, as well as in Mountain Home, Idaho, and Flagstaff, Ariz. In 1952, she married George A. Ballard Jr. (later divorced) in Idaho. She returned to Wisconsin where their daughter, Susan Ann, was born.
On February 4, 1961, Helen married Florian "Sonny" Rhode in Janesville, Wis. Their daughter, Patricia, was born in New Berlin, Wis. where they made their home for four years along with Susan Ann and Sonny's four children: Michael, Roger, Susan Kay, and Mark. There Helen was a homemaker and Sunday School teacher at the Methodist Church. In 1965, Helen and her husband purchased a seasonal fishing resort in Baudette, Minn. Helen managed operations including a restaurant, bar, housekeeping, and office. In 1968 they sold the resort and moved to Black River Falls where Helen was a Campfire Girl Troop leader and operated H.E.R. Tax Service. They moved to Menominee, Mich. in 1975 and operated a Sports Shop in nearby Peshtigo, Wis.
Helen enjoyed spending time with family, reading, travel, and jaunts to the casino. She loved to dance and could do a mean "Kidrick shuffle". She appreciated nature, walking on the beach, observing wildlife in the woods, and bird watching. She was kind to animals and taught that value to her children and grandchildren. Helen was very health conscious and educated herself extensively, especially in matters of nutrition and health management. She stressed the value of education, whether through earning degrees or through travel and experience, to her children and grandchildren. She enjoyed time spent with grandchildren and great-grandchildren and the loyal companionship of her adopted Kitty.
Helen was preceded in death by husband, Florian; son-in-law, Richard Briar; and 9 siblings. She is survived by daughters: Susan Ballard, Susan (Bobby John) Brueggeman, and Patricia Briar (Neal Tuma); sons: Michael (Nancy), Roger (Mary) and Mark Rhode; sister, Maxine (Garland) Bernhardt; brothers: Ralph (Bobbe) Kidrick and Gordon (Leila) Kidrick; grandchildren: Sarah (Jeremy), Melissa (Darrin), Matthew (Erin), Robin (Paul), Larry (Katie), Shannon, Brandon (Melissa), Jared, Danielle (Tony); great-grandchildren: Nicholas, Hayden, Logan, Kelly, Matt, and Emma. Also several nieces and nephews.
Family and friends may call at the Anderson Kell Funeral Home on Tuesday, September 24, 2013, from 1 p.m. until the service time at 3 p.m. Reverend Mark Johnson officiating.
Burial will immediately follow in Glenwood Memorial Gardens.