Helen Gene (née Schertz) Kennell died peacefully, Sunday morning, September 10, 2017 in Eureka, Illinois. Born Helen Gene Schertz, July 10, 1924 in Washington, Illinois, the daughter of Laura (née Wistehuf) and Emmanuel L Schertz, Helen's namesake was the naturalist, photographer and author, Gene Stratton-Porter.
Following studies in nursing at North Central College, Helen married Frank H Kennell (d. 1986) on November 22, 1945. Raising four children on an Illinois farm, she worked for many years at Maple Lawn Homes in Eureka, starting the activities department and serving as administrative assistant to the director. In later years she volunteered in Pennsylvania and North Carolina for Ten Thousand Villages, the nonprofit fair-trade retail organization founded by Mennonite Central Committee, and with her husband, for Camp Deerpark, a year-round camp and retreat center serving the Mennonite Churches of New York City.
Helen was an avid reader, naturalist and lover of the arts. Home was just a base for educational experience for her children, including regular stays by international students and an annual evening of desserts and conversation with all of her childrens' teachers. Classical music concerts, trips to museums and inner-city neighborhoods, regular camping trips to Rocky Mountain National Park, Helen introduced her family to beauty, understanding and diversity. She was a spinner and weaver of wool and master baker in Helen's Oh-Heck Kitchen, where many a child and grandchild learned the finer points of handling cookie dough. She embraced and embodied her Anabaptist peace-church faith as a member of Roanoke Mennonite Church for her entire adult life. Her children and children-in-law, all, responded in kind with lives of service that have spanned the globe.
Helen was a member of the Woodford County Home Extension.
Survivors include two daughters, Laura Sue (Allan) Dueck of Magnolia, DE; Ann Marie(Pleas) Broaddus of Santa Rosa, CA; two sons, Roger(Mary) Kennell of Roanoke, IL; Jerry(Leonor Constantin) Kennell of Estes Park, CO; 15 grandchildren; 13 great- grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents, one brother and one sister.
Helen was a member of the Roanoke Mennonite Church where, memorial services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 16, 2017. Pastor Bryan Miller will officiate. Visitation will be held one hour prior to services at the church on Saturday. Private family burial will be held in Roanoke Mennonite Cemetery. Argo-Ruestman-Harris Funeral Home in Eureka is handling arrangements for the family.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Roanoke Mennonite Church or Mennonite Central Committee. Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.argoruestmanharris.com.
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