Russel F. Helfer - celebration of life will be held this Saturday, Jan. 7 at 1 p.m. at St. Joseph's
Catholic Church on Northshore Drive, Big Bear Lake, followed by, at Russ' request, one heck
of a shindig. He's sorry he won't be able to make it.
"Big Bear Grizzly" Posted: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 4:07 pm
Russel F. Helfer - On Dec. 1, Russel F. Helfer, born Oct. 11, 1940, died peacefully in his
home of 32 years, with family by his side, after a courageous 6-year battle with cancer.
Russ was born in Milwaukee, Wisc. After graduating from college, Russ drove to San
Diego with his brother Bill, where he finished requirements for ordination at University
of San Diego, and then served as a Catholtc Priest for 13 years, during which time he
was awarded Teacher of The Year for San Diego County, 1973. Russ left the active ministry
in 1978, and soon after moved to Sugarloaf. In 1980, he married Joan Coogan, thus
beginning his second vocation as husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
Russ lived a colorful life in Big Bear, where he served the community with a bottomless
heart as a bus driver, counselor, a handyman, activities person at Lagonita Lodge and other
labors of love too numerous to list here. Those who knew and loved him will remember his
deep laugh, fun-loving nature, positive attitude, and overall genuine care for everybody.
Russ is survived by his loving wife, Joan, his five children, Bryan and wife Donna, Catherine
Wood and husband Steve, Greg and wife Patty, Mary Kay and husband Greg, and Patrick.
Grandchildren, Zachary, Christopher, Timothy, Jonathan, Joseph, Nicolas, Benjamin, and Blake.
Great-grandchildren Erica, Savannah, Brenden, Noah, Peyton, and Kimberly. His brothers, Bill,
Jim, and Pat Gjerde, sister Mary, and many nieces and nephews. A celebration of life is
scheduled for Jan. 7, 2012, at 1 p.m. at Saint Joseph's Catholic Church, followed by, at Russ'
request, one heck of a shindig where everybody can tell their Russ war stories. He's sorry he
won't be able to make it.
"Big Bear Grizzly" Posted: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 3:09 pm