Helmerichs, Sally Graner age 80, of Edina, passed away on April 28, 2013. She is survived by her loving husband, Robert; and her three sons, Peter (Chanhassen), John (Shoreview), Stephen (Baraboo, WI); and 7 grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her son, Matthew. Sally graduated from Southwest high school in 1950, and from the University of Minnesota in 1954 with a degree in Speech and English. She married Tom Swallen in 1955, and together they had sons, Matthew and Peter. Both sons were born with severe developmental disabilities, including Angelman's Syndrome, which became a central focus of her life. She dedicated herself to raising awareness and supporting the causes of those with developmental disabilities through her extraordinary talents of humor, enthusiasm, persuasion and compassion. She advocated for these causes on the floor of the Minnesota State Legislature as one of the first female lobbyists, and by joining the Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC). She developed and provided staff training for many Twin Cities organizations to enable them to better understand and more effectively serve those with developmental disabilities, as well as running support groups for parents and families. These efforts have been instrumental in greatly improving the lives of countless Minnesotans. Sally was the recipient of many honors in her field, including the 2002 ARC Minnesota Betty Hubbard Family Advocacy Award, in recognition of her lifetime of dedication to theses causes. In recent years, Sally enjoyed traveling overseas, her home in Florida, and most of all, spending time with family. A funeral service will be held at St. Mark's Cathedral on Friday, May 3 at 2:00 p.m., immediately followed by a reception. Sally has requested that donations be made to ARC Greater Twin Cities (2446 University Ave. W., suite 110, St. Paul, MN 55114) and Mount Olivet Rolling Acres (18986 Lake Drive E., Chanhassen, MN 55317). "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou.
This obituary was originally published in the Star Tribune.