• 43°

Helen Sturtz, 81

Memorial services for Helen Sturtz will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday at the First Presbyterian Church in Albert Lea. The Rev. Dwight Netzer will officiate. Private interment will be in Graceland Cemetery. Friends may visit with family from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Bonnerup Funeral Service, 2210 E. Main St., Albert Lea.
Helen died on Sunday, July 19, 2009, at her home. She was 81.
Helen Sturtz was born March 24, 1928, in Marshall, Mich., the daughter of Wilhelm and Emilie (Schatz) Schlotter. She attended public school in Marshall through the 10th grade. The family moved to Battle Creek, Mich., in 1943 and Helen finished her last two years at Battle Creek High School, graduating in 1945 as the class valedictorian. During her high school years she also completed a cosmetology course and she became a licensed beauty operator.
Helen attended the University of Michigan on a Regents Alumni Scholarship, majoring in languages. She was member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority. She received her bachelor of arts degree in 1949, having learned Latin, French, Spanish and a little Norwegian to go with her German.
Helen started taking piano lessons at the age of 5 and she became an accomplished pianist who could play equally well by ear and from music. Her parents emigrated from the Black Forest area of Germany in the 1920’s and during Helen’s childhood German was the language in the home. In 1937 the family spent the summer in Germany visiting relatives. While she was there Helen learned to play the accordion and the concertina.
Helen and William “Bill” Sturtz were married July 23, 1949, in Battle Creek, Mich. Helen worked as a secretary in the language department of the University High School while her husband finished law school. Helen and Bill moved to Albert Lea in January 1951. They moved into their house on Ridge Road in 1954 and it was their home until they moved into the Village Co-op in 2006.
Helen was primarily a homemaker during the first years of her marriage although she did hold several temporary or short-term secretarial jobs. In 1974 she started work as a travel agent for World Travel, then owned by Bob Quackenbush. Then in 1984 Helen and two of her associates, Sue Barber and Sally Furness, purchased World Travel and moved it to the old Pizza Cellar building on Washington Avenue. During her travel agent years Helen was able to take a number of interesting “familiarization trips” to such places as Alaska, Hawaii, Israel, Grand Cayman, Curacao and New Zealand. Helen retired in 1990.
Helen and her husband were avid travelers. Their travels eventually took them to all 50 states and more than 65 foreign countries. She and Bill had occasion to cruise on the Danube, Yangtze and Amazon Rivers. They agreed that the trip to New Zealand was their favorite, though they also made more than 25 trips to Mexico. They had the opportunity to visit the Black Forest area of Germany where her folks had come from, and Skane Province in Sweden where Bill’s grandfather spent his boyhood.
They were enthusiastic bridge players and often played in local and Midwest duplicate bridge tournaments. Helen acquired enough master points to become an American Contract Bridge Life Master in 1973. She also enjoyed playing golf, reading, and working crossword puzzles. She was considered to be an expert in matters of grammar and punctuation. She was also an expert at knitting and her little “owl” baby sweaters were prized by all those who received them. She enjoyed the time she spent with her family members and she enjoyed attending their many musical and theatrical performances.
Helen was a charter member, a 50-year member, and a past president of PEO Sorority Chapter CV. She also belonged to the Shrine Club Auxiliary and the American Legion Auxiliary.
Helen is survived by her husband Bill; sons: Dave (Anita) Sturtz, Gold Hill, Colo., Bob (Lisa) Sturtz, Albert Lea, and John (Cyndi) Sturtz, Stillwater; by grandchildren: Matt (Julie) Sturtz, Broomfield, Colo., Tamara (“Shine”) Sturtz, Boulder, Colo., Libby (Sky Ogletree) Sturtz, Longmont, Colo., Rachael (Joshua) Garcia, Manhattan, Kan., and Anna, William Evan and Jack Sturtz, Albert Lea; by step grandchildren: Aurora Sidell, Steamboat Springs, Colo., and Marielle Sidell, Boulder, Colo.; by great grandchildren: Brooke Sturtz, Calvin Ogletree and Collin Garcia; by “honorary” daughter Mary (Kris) Zetterlund, Cary, Ill.; by sister-in-law, Alice Kuehl, Bremerton, Wash.; brother-in-law and sister-in-law: John and Bonnie Sturtz, Green Valley, Ariz., and Truckee, Calif.; and by many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents; a son, Dr. Rick Sturtz in 1996; and a brother-in-law, Elmer Kuehl.
Helen was a multi-talented person who was always willing to share her talents with others, especially those in her family. She will be greatly missed.
Memorials may be made to Crossroads Community Hospice, First Presbyterian Church or the donor’s choice.