Helen O. Ackert, 98, of DeKalb, Ill., passed away Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011, at DeKalb County Rehab & Nursing Center.
Born Nov. 18, 1912, in Beresford, S.D., to Andrew D. and Carrie (Aust) Olson, she married Max B. Ackert on May 29, 1941, in Chicago.
Helen grew up on a small farm in South Dakota. She dreamed of becoming a nurse and when she was 16 she left home, with her father's permission, to become a deaconess at Lutheran Deaconess Hospital in Chicago. After getting her bachelor's degree, she left the order and went to work for the Visiting Nurses Association. She then went to work at Cook County Hospital, where she met the love of her life, Max. Together they entertained at the Missions on Maxwell Street, Max singing and Helen playing the piano (she was self taught).
They later were married in the Mission. Helen went back to Lutheran Deaconess Hospital to teach. At this time, their first-born son, George, was killed in a hit-and-run auto accident. Devastated, they decided to do something together and started the Chicago Doll Hospital and Curio Shop. This sparked a lifelong interest in antique doll collecting, Max doing the repair and Helen doing the costuming; she took a class at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Max encouraged her to continue her education. Helen got her master's degree at Loyola University and a certificate of advanced studies from University of Chicago. Hard times saw her back at work, teaching at the University of Illinois
at Chicago School of Nursing and later as a school nurse for the Chicago Board of Education. In 1962, Northern Illinois University hired Helen to teach in the School of Nursing. They did their field work at DuPage County Health Department, which hired her away from NIU and made her head of Information and Education. She had five departments under her. In 1982, she retired after her husband, Max, died, but she wasn't finished, as she started an interest in postcard collecting and became a certified graphoanalyst helping in many investigations in the area.
She is survived by her son, Roger Ackert of DeKalb; her sister, Florence England of Oxnard, Calif.; several nieces, nephews and step-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Max, and their son, George.
The funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 27, at Anderson Funeral Home with the Rev. Thomas Moe of United Methodist Church, Rock Falls, officiating. Burial will follow at Ridgewood Cemetery, Des Plaines. Visitation will be from 4-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, at Anderson Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Helen O. Ackert Memorial Fund in care of Anderson Funeral Home Ltd., P.O. Box 605, DeKalb, IL 60115. For information, visit www.AndersonFuneralHomeLtd.com
or call 815-756-1022.