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Helen Fillman


1924 - 2013 | Obituary Condolences
Helen Fillman Obituary
Helen Fillman As her friends and family can attest, Helen Fillman contributed selflessly to her family, church and community. With the love of her life by her side throughout most of her life 's journey, Helen was ever mindful of others and left a wonderful legacy to be carried on by the generations who follow her. It was on May 10, 1924, that a wonderful family from Madison, Wisconsin, welcomed a baby girl into the fold. Helen P. was the youngest of three children born to her parents, Philip Ingebrigdt and Hilma Ovidia (Christianson) Pederson, and was raised in the family home in a subdivision of Madison along beautiful Lake Monona. She and her older siblings, Clara and Oscar, made the most of lakeside living as the lake provided them with hours of entertainment year round. Helen loved to dance and sing, and she even did some cowboy yodeling. It was something to see and hear when Helen broke out in her "Tarzan call." Helen was a student at local schools including Madison East High School. Shortly after graduation, she worked as a secretary at Nagle Hart Tractor Equipment in Madison. New and exciting changes were on the horizon for Helen when she was working in the office at the USO in Madison, where the military came for relaxation during the days of WWII. When Lt. Bruce Burkhart came back to Madison to marry Helen 's sister, Clara, he brought along his good friend, John Fillman, who was highly impressed with that "younger sister, Helen." During the days, weeks, and months that followed, there were numerous trips via airplane and car to Madison, until he persuaded her to marry him. John popped the question at 5000 feet up, Helen happily agreeing to move to Mazon, Illinois and become a farmer 's wife. She set right to work in making a home for her and her new husband, and an asset to the community. It wasn 't easy for a "city girl" to adapt to being a farmer 's wife, as there were numerous meals to prepare either for home or for the field, depending on where John was working. Together Helen and John welcomed two fine sons, William and Jay, and a daughter, Kristin, into their hearts and home. Helen also jumped into life in her community. She became involved with the Junior 's Women 's Organization, serving as its president for a time. Helen participated with the University of Illinois Extension and University of Illinois Mother 's Club, and she served on the Morris Hospital Board of Directors during which time the hospital experienced impressive growth. Helen was the administrative secretary of the Grundy County Health Improvement Association that sponsored Blue Cross / Blue Shield in the county. John was a member of the Flying Farmers since 1945, and Helen was honored as an Illinois Flying Farmer Queen on more than one occasion. Together Helen and John served for 15 years with the WINGS program, which provided aviation safety on behalf of the Illinois Flying Farmers. A woman of faith, Helen was also actively involved with her church, Park Street Congregational United Church of Christ. Over the years, she served as the church historian and the food service chairman, participated with annual fundraising events, sang in the choir and served in other ways. At home, Helen always decorated for the various seasons. She enjoyed preparing delicious food, and shared her pride in her Norwegian heritage by giving Scandinavian cooking demonstrations. These culinary skills were used in preparing meals for activities and benefits at her church. Helen and her husband quilted together with Helen assisting John in designing and color coordinating more than 150 handcrafted quilts. Upon completion, the quilts were given away to family, friends, and various charities. Helen and John had great longtime friends with whom they enjoyed playing bridge and getting together for potluck dinners. She enjoyed needlepoint, sewing, and crafts such as flower pounding. In addition, Helen enjoyed traveling, reading, and gardening as well as working her entire life as a bookkeeper. When Helen 's son, Jay, took over the farming operation later in life, she and John built a new home in Mazon. A short time later she became the village treasurer, a job she continued to hold to the present time---a span of 19 years. Helen Fillman made an impact in the lives of those who knew her and she will be deeply missed and forever cherished. Helen Fillman, of Mazon, died on Sunday, December 29, 2013, at Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet. Helen 's family includes her three children, William (Teresa) Fillman of Alpharetta, Georgia, Kristin (Steven) Ciesemier of Glen Ellyn, Illinois and Jay (Phyllis) Fillman of Mazon; six grandchildren, Jonathan Fillman of Breckenridge, Colorado, Adam (Sarah) Fillman of Okinawa, Japan, Emily (Adam) Pepe of Hollis, New Hampshire, Kathryn Ciesemier of Brooklyn, New York, Andrew Fillman of Morris and Peter Fillman of Boston, Massachusetts; two great grandchildren, Lucas Fillman and Sophia Fillman; sister, Clara (Bruce) Burkhart of Morris; and one sister-in-law, Lorraine Pederson of Bradenton, Florida, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Helen was preceded in death by her parents; two children in infancy; husband, John; brother, Oscar Harold Pederson; brother-in-law, Eldon (Mary) Fillman; and sister-in-law, Wilma (Donald) Sutton. The family will receive friends on Thursday, January 2, 2014, from 9:00 a.m. until time of memorial service 11:00 a.m. at Park Street Congregational United Church of Christ, 806 Park Street in Mazon. Pastor Tyler Carrell will officiate and a private family inurnment will be in Braceville-Gardner Cemetery. Preferred memorials in lieu of flowers may be made as gifts in Helen 's memory to Park Street Congregational United Church of Christ, PO Box 266, Mazon, Illinois 60444, or M.V.K. Ambulance, 606 Front Street, Mazon, Illinois 60444. Friends may sign the online guestbook or send private condolences to the family by logging onto: www.ReevesFuneral.com. Cremation services and memorial arrangements have been made under the direction and care of Reeves Funeral Homes, Ltd., 408 East Washington Street in Morris. 815-942-2500
Published in Morris Daily Herald on Dec. 31, 2013
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