Helen Rachel Hoffstrom Platzke, 92, died Feb. 11, 2012, at the Fairbanks Pioneer's Home where she resided since April 2003.
Helen was born Sept. 11, 1919, to Liisa and Emil Hoffstrom in Bruce Crossing, Mich.
As both parents had emigrated from Finland as adults, Finnish was Helen's first language. The first girl in a farming family, with five older brothers, she began to share household chores from an early age, later joined by two sisters.
Helen graduated from Ewen High School in 1937, and soon sought employment in the Detroit area. In 1941, during a visit home, she met and married Reinhard Platzke. They spent the war years in the Detroit area, where she gave birth to Jaqueline and to Rodney, and then returned to Michigan's Upper Peninsula for five years. In 1947, after a difficult pregnancy, Helen gave birth to Bonita at home in Bruce Crossing in the midst of a snow storm.
In 1952, the family returned to the Detroit area, where Reinhard worked in a steel plant until his death in 1971. They moved back to the big city when they concluded this move was financially necessary if they were going to send their children to college. A major goal was met for Helen and Reinhard with the college graduations of their three children.
Helen worked in many fields through the years, as a baker (including several years in Hazel Park High School's cafeteria), housekeeper, a florist, a wreath-maker and a "small-piece" worker in factory jobs.
In August 1971, following Reinhard's death, she followed two of her children north to Fairbanks to visit her children and (at that time) three grandchildren. While there she met Mable Rasmussen, director of Presbyterian Hospitality House, then a home for teenage girls, and was offered a job as cook and house mother. She worked with teenage girls and also with younger children in Hospitality House's receiving home until her retirement in the mid-1980s.
For many years she enjoyed assisting as a volunteer with Bread Line. She regularly baked goodies (breads, cakes, cookies, etc.) and brought them with her on her volunteer day. She came to be known as "The Bread Lady."
Special pleasures for Helen were cooking, baking and preparing festive meals for family and friends. She had fond memories of picking berries with her mother as a girl, and she loved to roam the hills near Fox, picking lingonberries. She fulfilled a lifetime dream by traveling to Finland twice, where she met many relatives.
Helen was preceded in death by her parents and step-father August Eskola; her husband Reinhard Platzke; five brothers Waino, Urho, Reino, Arnie and Taisto; and one sister Elma Cook Skelly.
She is survived by her three children and their spouses: daughter Jaqueline (Neil) Eklund, of Sequim, Wash., son Rodney (Janice) Platzke of Fairbanks and daughter Bonita (David) Proper of Medford, Ore.; 12 grandchildren Kerry, Michael, Stephen, Craig Platzke, Jennifer Mahler, Anna Faker; Alvin, Erik, Karl, Andrew Eklund, and Eve and Joy Proper; 19 great-grandchildren; and one sister Edith (Richard) Franzén, of Ewen, Mich.
A memorial service will be held in Bruce Crossing in July.
Arrangements are entrusted to Chapel of Chimes.