Helen Henry Spencer, formerly of Oregon, Illinois, passed away on October 13, 2020, in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Born June 17, 1925 in Woodson, Illinois to the late Frank A. and Mary Emma Lena (Culp) Henry, she graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1943. She married William E. Spencer on December 27, 1947.
A real-life “Rosie the Riveter,” Helen worked at Caterpillar Tractor in Peoria during World War II, and later worked for nine years at Family Circle Magazine. She also served as the matron of Ogle County Jail during her husband’s tenure as Ogle County Sheriff from 1963-1966. For over 35 years, Helen worked as a bookkeeper for Sinnissippi Farms until her retirement in 2001. It was during these decades that she formed her treasured, lifelong friendship with Harriet Lowden Madlener and Nancy Madlener Culbertson’s family.
Helen was an avid golfer and member of the Oregon Country Club, taking up the sport in her 30s. From 1958 to 1994, she competed in the Illinois Women’s Golf Association (IWGA) State Amateur and Senior State Amateur Championships, including the Ladies Lincoln Highway Tournament. Her love of competition and for the camaraderie of the sport led her in 2019 to establish the IWGA Helen Spencer Junior Girls Award to annually honor an outstanding graduating high school senior. The first scholarship was awarded this spring.
“Auntie” Helen is survived by her chosen family, Edward and Robin Culbertson, their three children: Sarah (James) Nau; Andy (Reagan Bryant) Culbertson; and Gretchen (Christopher) Shepard; and seven grandchildren. She is also survived by several nieces and nephews, her Oregon Pals, Golden Years Friends, and those that called her “Lucky.” Helen is predeceased by her husband, Bill; her brother, William Henry; and her sisters, Dorothy Henry, Martha Milliken, and Mary Frances Alkire.
The family would like to thank the Mercy Health at Home Hospice Team, Janesville, especially Amy, who cared for Helen so thoughtfully and kindly over the past several weeks.
A private graveside service will be held and a Celebration of Helen’s life when it is safe to do so.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to either: The Helen Spencer Memorial or to Mercy Health at Home Hospice of Janesville, Wisconsin. Links have been provided below.
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Derrick Funeral Home is more then honored to be assisting Helen's family.
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The Helen Spencer Memorial Terri Moore, IWGA Treasurer
176 Seminole Drive, Galesburg IL 61401
Mercy Assisted Care
901 Mineral Point Avenue, Janesville, WI, Janesville WI 53548