Helen Ellefson Roddick

PORTAGE  --  Helen Ellefson Roddick (1927- 2009), beloved wife of William (deceased June 18, 2007), passed away February 6, 2009 with complications from cancer. She was a longtime, 52-year resident of Portage, Wisconsin where she and her husband were public school teachers and remained to enjoy their retirement on Silver Lake.

Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 12:00 noon on Monday, February 9, 2009, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 18 S. Main St., in Pardeeville, Wisconsin, with Fr. John Hedrick presiding. Private family burial will be in Welsh Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 10:30 a.m. until 12:00 noon on Monday at the church. The Pflanz Mantey Mendrala Funeral Home in Portage is assisting the family.            

Helen was born August 14, 1927 at her parent’s home in Spring Green, Wisconsin, the daughter of Henry O. and Mayme (McPhillips) Ellefson. Her childhood was spent on the Big Hollow Farm settled by her Norwegian grandparents just below the gap to Bear Valley where her mother’s Irish family had immigrated. She attended the Pleasant View country school, and as a bright student, accelerated grades to graduate from high school at age 15.

Helen graduated from Platteville College in 1945 where she caught the eye of a young soldier, wounded and returned early from the war. Bill Roddick recognized her familiar face from a photo displayed by his army bunkmate months before. Although Helen wasn’t attached, she had embodied to this young soldier all that was worth fighting for… and coming home to. After introductions, Bill won her heart, and the bunkmate was best man at their wedding. Helen always called it love at first sight.

Bill and Helen’s wonderful marriage lasted 62 years. Bill’s jobs as Instrumental Director took the couple to Dodgeville, Hartford, and Portage. Bill created award-winning bands while Helen spent 30 years winning the hearts and minds of first and second graders. As no one ever forgets their first grade teacher—no matter how famous or accomplished they become —Helen was privileged to be recognized and remembered throughout the years by so many students she shaped at such an impressionable age. She taught the 3R’s, but sparked curiosity, fostered kindness and responsibility, and gave confidence and joy to so many youngsters.

Helen continued her academic reprisals throughout her adult life with a further degree from Platteville and several continuing education courses. She loved learning and research and had a stunning memory for bits of information. She found family genealogy and local history a perfect passion. She compiled books on her Norwegian family, her husband’s family, and even wrote a history of a country school in Sauk County — all of which have been widely shared. She resourcefully dug through documents and institutions, but best loved meeting with local people, sitting to listen, and to elaborate the stories to be captured and passed on to future generations. 

She was quite artistic and prided herself in personal art projects and her school bulletin boards were legend. She volunteered with older citizens and with Red Cross. She was a great letter writer over the years and eloquently and routinely wrote to loved ones in her remarkable penmanship. Her husband was an excellent musician who played dance jobs often to arrive home at 2:00 am, always to a welcoming note. Her starring role was as mother and wife. Big-hearted, wise and supremely loving, she gave her husband and children great strength.

She is survived by four children; Nancy Roddick, Necedah, Bill (Gayle) Roddick, Milwaukee, Jane (Dick) Dana, Baraboo, and Susan (Chuck) Eberle, Pardeeville; four grandchildren; Aaron and Ryne, Pardeeville, Steve, Chicago, IL, and Amy, Milwaukee; sister-in law, Roselyn Roddick Caveny, Orlando, FL.  She is also survived by nine nieces and nephews, Charles (Nancy) Ellefson, Spring Green, Leo (Connie) Ellefson, Middleton, Tom (Pam) Ellefson, Middleton, Mary Eileen (Ed) Alt, Oshkosh, Hawley Roddick, Greenfield, CA, Mary Roddick, Seattle, WA, Bill (Susan)  Schuetze, Louisville, KY, John (Paula) Reeger, Oak Park, IL, Warren (Wendy) Silenzi, Orlando, FL; other relatives and many friends.  Helen was preceded in death by her husband, William, her brother and his wife, Charles and Eileen Fargen Ellefson, her mother and father, Mayme and Henry O. Ellefson.

Special thanks to her nurses and caregivers through HospiceCare, Inc., SouthernCare, and As You Wish. Our deepest gratitude to Rebecka, Lori, Sarah, and Kelli who enabled our mother to stay in her home as long as possible.




For information please call 608 742-2126 (Portage, WI) or 608 635-2763 (Poynette, WI)