Helen Boen Scheer passed away gracefully on Sunday, February 27, 2011 at her childhood home in Wadena. Hospice assisted in providing comfort in her final days.
Helen was born in Wadena on May 31, 1915 to Margaret and Harald Boen, a teacher/homemaker and a newspaper man. She was their oldest child and only daughter. In Wadena, she received the early education and values which guided her to a lifelong career as an art teacher and nature lover. Many of her Wadena schoolmates remained close throughout her long and dignified life.
Helen attended Moorhead (Minn.) State Teachers College during the Depression years, where she majored in art and education. She recounted many stories of her happy days there, where even the president took personal interest in her collegiate success.
Upon graduation, she was hired to teach art in Northfield, Minn. It was there she met Ralph Scheer, a young bacteriologist and Carnation creamery manager, who pursued her for several months before she finally agreed to date him. On Oct. 17, 1942, they were married at the Little Church Around the Corner in New York City. Ralph was stationed there as a young Air Force lieutenant, training for service in North Africa. The war profoundly shaped their lives for the years of its duration and beyond.
While Ralph was overseas, Helen lived in New York City; Dayton, Ohio; Wadena; and Austin, Minn.; until Ralph's return in late 1944. Subsequently, they lived in Sparta, Mich., where their only son Kent was born, followed by Chicago; Grand Island, Neb.; Minneapolis; Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit; and Moorhead, Minn. For the first few years after Kent's birth, Helen was a mother and corporate wife, as her husband's career developed. Once Kent was in school, Helen resumed her career, teaching art to junior high students until her retirement.
Helen continued her study of art in such places as Florence, Italy; Bangkok, Thailand; and Churchill, Canada. She and Ralph also enjoyed travels throughout Europe, Mexico, and across the United States and Canada.
Both Helen and Ralph participated in community service in each city in which they lived. Helen found special reward in advancing local arts organizations, including the early efforts to start the Red River Art Center, now the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, N.D. The Scheers supported the work of artists, collecting original art; appreciating primitive and tribal pieces, in particular. Helen was an active member of Delta Kappa Gamma, the Art Educators of Minnesota and many other organizations. She loved to garden, collect antiques, and was an avid reader. Almost always, she had a dog at her feet.
Throughout her life, Helen was the hostess extraordinaire, elegantly entertaining family, friends and Ralph's business associates, first those with Carnation, then Fairmont, finally his colleagues at the NDSU psychology department. Her kind and accepting spirit made everyone feel at ease and welcome in her home.
The Scheers returned to Helen's Wadena homestead upon their retirement in 1982. Both became deeply involved in the Wadena community, volunteering for its benefit through a variety of organizations and causes from the 1980s through 2000. Helen supported the restoration of the Wadena Auditorium, the Depot, the Cyber Cafe, the new downtown streetscape, and various city visioning programs, as well as development of the Wadena Community Center, to name a few.
Meanwhile she groomed the plain Wadena farm place of her childhood into a haven of gardens, green space and a lovely, comfortable home. There both local and distant friends happily gathered for holidays, birthdays or pure fellowship over the three decades of her retirement.
A celebration of Helen's life will be held at her Wadena homestead in early summer 2011.
Survivors include one son, Kent (Vicki Chepulis), a large extended family, and the many friends whom she considered part of her family.
Helen was preceded in death by her husband, Ralph, who passed away January 2008; her brothers, Herb and Robert; an infant sister, Beth; and her parents, Margaret and Harald.