Bonnie K. Helmer (1951 - 2012)

Obituary
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Helmer, Bonnie K.

Bonnie K. Helmer, 61, of Oostburg died peacefully and without pain on September 30. Her husband and his RN brother were at her side during her final moment. She was surrounded by immeasurable family love emanating from her shining star and guiding light. An extraordinary woman has left this earth.

Bonnie battled cancer for five years with a ferociousness, tenacity, and undaunted courage that inspired everyone. She never gave in to the disease that ravaged her physically and brutally attacked her entire body. Cancer, however, never had a chance to penetrate her warm, giving, loving, caring, and comforting heart. It at no time invaded her gracious, joyful, vibrant, and extraordinary soul. Cancer under any condition could not trespass on her indomitable, charming, and wonderful spirit.

Bonnie was born on May 18, 1951 to Harold and Bernice Harmelink. She attended Oostburg High School, where she met her husband and became his Homecoming Queen, graduating in 1969. Bonnie married her high school sweetheart on December 19, 1970. She helped him through school and together they raised a remarkable family. Bonnie and Val were lucky enough to celebrate 40 years of marriage. In that celebration, they took all their children and grandchildren to Orlando/Disney, creating a myriad of indelible memories.

Bonnie was Accounts Manager at Buteyn Construction, later becoming Buteyn-Peterson Construction, for over 25 years. She was an extremely loyal and dedicated employee who worked even on many days that cancer tried to stop her. She was previously employed at Heritage Insurance and Larson Canning Company.

Bonnie was preceded in death by her father; sister in law, Karen Harmelink; special niece, Jean Schmich; her mother in law and father in law, Harold and Virgiline Helmer; and husband's special aunt, Carolyn Brenon.

She is survived by her mother, Bernice Harmelink. She is also survived by her husband, Val and their three children: Brett (Heidi) Helmer, Oostburg; Derek (Julie) Helmer, Madison; Kari (Mark) Migacz, Sheboygan Falls. Bonnie is further survived by her brothers and sisters: Darryl (Nancy) Harmelink, Sheboygan; Jan (Karen) Harmelink, Sheboygan; James (Debbie) Harmelink, Sheboygan; Larry (Sue Seiberling) Harmelink, Sheboygan; Russell (Kathy) Harmelink, Gowen, MI; Trudy (Steve) Bosman, Gresham; Lauri (Cary) Tempas, Sheboygan Falls; Mary (Phil) Van Driest, Oostburg.

Bonnie considered foreign exchange student, Sergio (Cecilia) Valetti, an additional loving son. She also considered her husband's brother and sisters to be her own: Arlinda (Dave) Soerens, Fond du Lac; Scott (Gale Storm) Helmer, Madison; Carol (Don) Erdmann, Algoma. Bonnie also felt a special sisterhood with three of Val's special cousins: Michele (Bob) Lytle, Golden, CO; Connie (Paul) Bamberger, Grafton; Peggy Brenon, Denver, CO.

Bonnie is survived by numerous grandchildren, the love and center of her life: Kasey, Quinn, Caden Helmer; Andrew, Erika Migacz; and Lucilla Valetti.

Bonnie had a passion reading and instilled a love for learning in all of her children. She had a special affinity and fondness for the Oostburg Library. She served Friends of the Library as president and many other capacities. Bonnie loved gardening, flowers, cooking, and especially traveling. She was the consummate planner, be it a trip, dinner, or event. Nothing was nearer and dearer to her heart than having friends or family get together, or arranging and taking a trip somewhere. Her house was your house - and always opened with a memorable kindness and hospitality.

Bonnie felt extremely fortunate to have lived long enough to visit Italy numerous times, the last time being a year ago. That was the most special trip of all, as she saw the Italian granddaughter born a day after her birthday. Being la nonna to Lucilla Valetti and la madre to Sergio was a gift unlike any other.

Visitation will be held on Wednesday, October 3 from 3-8 p.m. and Thursday, October 4 from 10-11 a.m. at the Wenig Funeral Home in Oostburg. A memorial service will commence at 11 a.m. following visitation. Private family committal will take place at Sunrise Memorial Gardens. In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made in her name to the Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic, Sheboygan.

For additional information and online condolences please visit www.wenigfuneralhome.com

Bonnie enriched the lives of so many who were motivated by her spirit and changed by her life. She was not just an inspiration, but an incredibly special person that led the way with a beautiful sweet smile. She was a hero to an entire family that learned from her intense and unconditional love. She taught us to enjoy the gift of today, to use what opportunity we have to seize and live the moments, to revel in the extraordinary magic of those moments on what those who don't understand would call ordinary days.

Bonnie was near the front of the line when God handed out the gifts of motherhood. Her children were her greatest achievement in life, and her precious grandchildren the beautiful results of that priority. She had an exceptional capacity to connect with children and was an unforgettable special aunt to so many nieces and nephews as well.



Our hearts will ache but our souls will forever contain the gifts that were left behind. Bonnie would do it all over again in the hope her children and others would never have to face the cancer she conquered in every way but one. She will never cease to inspire us to live because she showed us the way. Bonnie taught us by example to focus on what we have and not on what we lose; to live the days we are granted, and never be a victim. She taught us how to fight like a girl! We learned how to live, how to love, and always how to hope. In finality, we learned the meaning of a life well lived - because of the footprints she left on our heart.

Bonnie's family would like to thank the wonderful second floor nursing staff at Sheboygan Memorial Hospital for the compassionate and professional care given to her so many times. Bonnie's family would especially like to thank Dr. Santhosh Kumar and the entire nursing and office staff at the Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic. It was our most incredible fortune to experience their absolute pinnacle of care. Bonnie and her family were profoundly and forever changed by the exceptional loving care she received, and it will forever remain one of the most special of special places in each of our hearts.

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Published in Sheboygan Press on Oct. 2, 2012
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