Helen MOGENSEN

Obituary
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MOGENSEN, Helen Elizabeth
(née Swainson)
August 4, 1931 - July 16, 2013
Helen, dreamer with a giving heart, touched the lives of many. She was beloved wife of Hugh Mogensen; loving mother of Karen, Faye, Jean, Ruth, Cathy and Rick; warm mother-in-law to Ken, Christian, Marc, Allan, Brent and Boon Hwa; and doting grandmother of 15. She was of strong Icelandic stock, born in the pioneer home of her parents Swain and Struna Swainson; their seventh cherished child, of ten. Throughout Helen's life, she fondly recalled her happy childhood on the farm near Red Deer, Alberta, where she learned the fine arts of gardening, baking and gentle persuasion. Helen studied at the University of Alberta, and enjoyed a short career as a school teacher. Working with others was truly her calling, and she continued to be an educator on a voluntary and informal basis throughout her life. She had strong philanthropic values. She volunteered with UNICEF for over 35 years, served on the boards and countless committees of Southwood and later St. Aidan's United Church. She served on the board of The Open Door (now Our Place), canvassed for numerous causes, gave blood throughout her adult years, initiated community clean-ups, and was one of the first to embrace and support food banks. She was a big fan of the CBC and a staunch NDP supporter. Helen was fiercely loyal to all those she loved and the causes she championed. Helen and Hugh met at high-school in the fall of 1948, and dated. Their paths diverged for a time until they bumped into one another in 1953. The courtship grew serious and they tied the knot in 1955. They spent most of their parenting years in Calgary, with the exception of three years in London, England, where Helen met the challenge of mothering her flock (who ranged from 9 months to 13 years at that time), without the benefit of extended family. Later on, in 1986, Helen and Hugh moved to a semi-rural property near Victoria. There they created a beautiful garden and haven that was consistently wide open for visits with family and friends. Always interested in others, Helen created a huge and diverse circle of friendship in Victoria, and stayed in close touch with her Calgary community as well. Helen connected people and nourished others with great skill. She was a wonderful listener, and always encouraging. She was a friend and a mother figure to more people than we can possibly name here. Helen always had vivid dreams – perhaps she was connected to the other world all along. We love her dearly and will miss her more than words can say. We thank the staff at Saanich Peninsula Hospital, Selkirk Place, and most recently the Royal Jubilee Hospital for their compassionate care of Helen during her illness. A service in memory of Helen will be held at St. Aidan's United Church on Monday, July 22 at 2:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, she would be grateful for donations to "Our Place" or UNICEF, two of her favourite charities.
xoxo

Published in The Calgary Herald on July 20, 2013
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