Helia Lois Burshem

Helia Lois Burshem Helia Lois Burshem, 97, passed away peacefully on September 27, 2013 surrounded by her loving family in Florence, Oregon. Helia was born on May 2, 1916 as Hilja Johnanna Warpula in Drummond Island, Michigan. She was born to Finnish immigrants who died when she was six years old, leaving her alone with her two brothers. They were placed in an orphanage in Minnesota where each was adopted; it was many years later that they finally reconnected. Hilja was six years old when she was adopted by Mary and Louis Hanson. Her legal name was changed to Helia Lois Hanson. In 1933, she fell in love with and married Lawrence Donald Burshem. They were blessed with four children. Helia was a strong, independent woman who worked full time. While her husband served in WWII, and many years following the war, Helia's life revolved around serving others; she was very active in politics and social work. She was a respected member of the Republican Women's Association of Humboldt County; she served as the president of Credit Women's of Humboldt County and was a member of the Retired Public Employees; she was one of the first leaders of Bayside 4H in Arcata, CA. Helia was not afraid to take on a challenge. She eventually found her most fulfilling career challenge when she became the supervisor of the social workers at the Welfare Department of Humboldt County where she retired in 1975. She was a devout Christian, baptized in 1928. She remained a devoted member of the Baptist Church. She is survived by her loving daughters, Janice Syvertson and Beverly Buttrum, and her son Ronald Burshem (wife, Kenna). She was forever proud of the accomplishments of her grand-children Robbie, Peggy, Roger, Patti Syvertson, Cindy Finnochio, Sandy Bean, Robert, Donald, Debbie Zenda, Ronelle Robinson, Jacob Buttrum, Daniel and Kenneth Burshem, as well as her fourteen grandchildren and one great grand daughter. Her husband Donald Burshem, beloved daughter Lavonne Lloyd, her two brothers Tony Overby and Harvey Riley, and son-in-laws Bob Syvertson and Amos Buttrum, preceded her in death. During an era when life was not always easy for an independent opinionated woman, she will always be remembered for her strength and her courage. She was highly intelligent and enjoyed staying current with world events. She loved a good debate and had very strong convictions that she made well known if you dared challenge her wisdom, even at 97 years of age. She will be dearly missed by all of her family and friends. We know you are in heaven and we thank you for helping each of us find our voice and teaching us to never compromise our integrity. In lieu of flowers, please give to Hospice of Humboldt. Mortuary services are under the care of Burns Riverside Mortuary in Florence, Oregon. Private services will be held at Sunset Memorial in Eureka, CA. Please sign the guestbook at www.times-standard.com and click on obits.


Published in Eureka Times-Standard on Oct. 13, 2013