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Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, Helen Warrelman touched the lives of so many in such a special way. She was wise and so giving while expecting nothing in return. Helen’s devotion to her family was easy to see, and she was so proud to witness her family grow to include the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren who made her so very proud. Deeply missed, she leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will forever treasure.
Born during the decade of the Roaring Twenties, Helen entered the world during a time when innovation was transforming the way Americans lived their daily lives. Washing machines and refrigerators became part of our home, and with motion pictures in both color and sound the cultural fabric of our nation became much more vibrant. It was in 1926 that Helen Ann was welcomed into the world by her parents, Michael and Helen (Lakatos) Kiss, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Raised in the family home at 2104 Alpine Ave, NW, she was joined in her family by her older brothers, Frank and George. Sadly, Helen’s father died in a workplace accident at the Grand Rapids Stamping Division of the Fisher Body Plant on the Fourth of July weekend in 1927. Although her mother had been a homemaker, as a single mother she had to resort to odd jobs to provide for her family. At times these jobs were quite creative such as when Helen and her brothers slept on park benches at Richmond Park while their mother hunted for night crawlers to sell as bait to the local fishermen and her . Her mother was also known to produce moonshine shine occasionally that she would provide to friends and neighbors.
From the time she was young, Helen treasured her relationships with others. She was very close to her brothers, and she also became very close to her older cousin, Betty, who helped her mother raise Helen and her brothers. She was very active in her neighborhood and had many friends. Since both of her parents had immigrated to Michigan from Hungary, Helen's family would regularly socialize with friends at the local Hungarian Hall and at the neighborhood Catholic church. She particularly enjoyed the hall dances. Helen attended Fairview Elementary School through the eighth grade where she was a gifted speller, and she didn’t attend high school. Her mother later married Peter Kocher.
When she was just a young woman of about 16, life was forever changed for Helen when she met the young man of her dreams. His name was Lysle Warrelman, and he was a fellow classmate and neighbor. Their relationship began when he was leaving the church across the street from her house, and with a desire to build a life together, Helen and Lysle were married on November 3, 1945. After his discharge from his military service, they settled into an apartment in Muskegon. There, they were blessed with the birth of their daughter, Bonnie, in 1947. After two years, their young family moved into a small house behind but on the property of her mother’s house on Alpine Avenue. There, Helen, Mike, and Pat joined their family, and in 1958, their bustling family moved to 1810 Mullins Avenue, NW, in Grand Rapids. Vina was born there, and this would be the place Helen called home until just a short time before her death.
There was nothing of greater importance to Helen than caring for her home and family. She maintained a neat and orderly home, and it has been said that her home was meticulously clean. Helen was a fantastic cook who often prepared Hungarian dishes from her heritage such as rosette, potato noodles, Hungarian lungalo bread, chicken paprikash and prune cake. She also did a lot of baking and canning. Helen was very engaged in her children’s lives, volunteering in their schools during the school year including as a room mother. As a family there were many weekend and day trips as well as simple picnics. During the summer they often vacationed at a summer cottage rental on Pickerel Lake in Newago County. Since Helen and Lysle both loved fishing, they often took day trips out to Grand Haven to spend the day fishing off the pier. Their neighborhood was very active, and both she and her husband made many lasting friendships with neighbors. Sadly, Lysle died in 1998. Helen kept busy in the neighborhood. She made great friends with many of the new neighbors. They watched out for her, visited, took her places and she hosted bonfires and weenie roasts in her back yard. She became a grandma to the kids who built forts and played in her large back yard. She also spent time pursuing her passion for gambling as she took several casino trips and also enjoyed playing cards games and Bingo.
In time, Helen found love again with a man who was part of a couple that she played bingo with. A fellow widower, Earl Silvis and Helen grew their friendship into a romance that would last until her death. They never married, but they were constant companions. During this time in her life Helen loved spending time with her children’s families, and she took many vacations with them as well. She loved being a grandmother and was an active part of her grandchildren’s lives. One notable trip that Helen enjoyed was when she and her dear friend Pauline were offered a trip on Pauline’s son’s private jet to his luxurious condo for three weeks. It was a time Helen will never forget. Her dog, Toby, was a treasured companion. It only seems fitting that after 13 years of friendship, Helen died just one hour after Toby. Just a few months ago, Helen had to leave her longtime home and moved to Valley View Care Center where she quickly won the hearts of the staff who cared for her.
With unending devotion to her family and friends, Helen Warrelman made the most of the days she was given. She could be feisty at times, but it was only because she was so passionate about the people and things she loved. A constant presence in the lives of her family, Helen was an inspiration and role model for the generations who follow in her footsteps. She will never be forgotten by all who were blessed to know and love her.
Helen Ann Warrelman, age 93, of Grand Rapids, MI passed away on Sunday March 1, 2020 while in the company of family. She was born in Grand Rapids, MI in 1926 to Michael and Helen Kiss. Along with her parents, Helen was preceded in death by her husband of 53 years, Lysle Warrelman as well by her daughter Helen Phelps, brothers Frank and George Kiss and her special canine companion “Toby”. Helen is survived by her children, Bonnie (Don) Walker, Mike (Carol) Warrelman, Pat (Fred) DeGraaf, Vina (Mike) Ryan; Son in Law Dave Phelps, 11 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and many great, great-grandchildren as well as by several nieces and nephews and by her loving companion of many years, Earl Silvis. Friends and relatives are invited to visit with Helen’s family at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home (2021 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504) Wednesday March 4, 2020, from 4-7 PM. Funeral services have been scheduled to take place at the funeral home on Thursday March 5, 2020 at 11 AM with an additional period of visitation prior from 10-11 AM. Helen will be laid to rest next to Lysle in Rosedale Memorial Park. Please consider making a memorial contribution in Helen’s memory to Hospice of Holland, (270 Hoover Blvd, Holland, MI 49423). To share a memory or photo, or to sign her guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com.