Dick Helsem passed on July 16, 2014 surrounded by his loving family at the same home where his life began. A lifelong resident of Yuba City, Dick was born to Charles (Chuck) and Iris (Boo) Helsem on October 9, 1940.
He joined two older brothers, Charles Jr. and Donald, and was followed by two younger brothers, David and Roy. These five, fine Helsem boys stair-stepped in height, oldest to youngest, and they "owned" Walnut Street! In later years three brothers would live side-by-side, Dick in their parents' house, Roy in their grandparents' house, and Charlie in the last one.
There were many Helsems in town when he was born; each passing leaves a huge family void.
Dick attended Bridge Street School, as did his mother, brothers, daughters and grand-daughters. He graduated from YCHS in 1958. Dick worked for his father at "Helsem and Sons' Plumbing" for decades with brothers Charlie, Dave, and Roy before starting "Dick Helsem Plumbing".
In 1961, Dick married Aileen "Peggy" Stevens. They later divorced, but remained good friends. He was a wonderful son, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, as well as brother, and a dear friend to many. He was a careful and thoughtful person, taking great care of the people who depended on him and the things he cherished.
He was a careful driver; we can't remember him ever being in an accident, ever. He was precise, and could tell if something was the slightest bit out-of-square. He was so very generous, never turning down a favor, always ready to help in any way he could. There were many, many ways a skilled man like him could help!
Plumber, builder, mechanic; if it was broken, he was likely able to fix it. He hated re-model work, preferring to start new, but he would do whatever needed to be done. He had a reputation for doing the work of two men (or more) in half the time. Besides plumbing, Dick and his brothers also built many fine homes in Yuba City over the years.
He was a fierce shuffleboard competitor, and loved playing Keno. He was also awfully hard to beat "back in the day" at arm-wrestling. Dick had the rare gift of companionship, maybe more a camaraderie, of key childhood friends. These are men he went through every stage of life with, childhood, teen years, marriage, children, and all the trials, tribulations, and JOYS of adulthood. They knew each other so well.
Dick fought so very hard to remain with us, but now joins his parents and brothers Charlie Helsem and Dave Helsem. He is survived by his daughters Judy (Bruce) Smith and Catherine "Cassie" Lark, his grandchildren Carmen Smith, Sarah (Siamack) Donighi, Richard (Brittny) Smith, and Samantha Lark of Beaverton, OR, his great-grandchildren Tommy Donighi and Dimtiri Gonzales, his brothers Donald (Janie) Helsem of Spanaway, WA, Roy Helsem, and his sister-in-law Penny Helsem. He is also survived by dear friends Frank Blatt, Chuck Epp, Norman Leming, and Bill Brown, among many others. Unless otherwise noted, all other survivors reside in Sutter County.
Dick wanted us to be sure and thank Sutter-North Hospice for their excellent care and kindness during his confinement. Donations to them in lieu of flowers would be appreciated. Nell Wreyford and Chuck Epp Jr. are also to be thanked for their affection and attentiveness.
A service will be held at Ullrey Memorial Chapel at 817 Almond St., Yuba City, Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 1 pm, with a gathering immediately following at the old family home, 711 Walnut Street, Yuba City. He will rest in Sutter Cemetery.
Send Condolences at
Ullrey Memorial Chapel Inc.
817 Almond Street Yuba City, CA 95991
Published in Appeal Democrat on July 19, 2014