Erskine - Helen Hagge, age 90, of Erskine, died Tuesday, June 11 at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, N.D.
Funeral services were held Saturday, June 15 at Trinity Free Lutheran Church, rural McIntosh, with the Rev. Dale Mellgren officiating. Interment was held at Brooks/Plummer Presbyterian Cemetery in Brooks.
Helen Lucile James was born on Oct. 5, 1922 in Nodaway Township, Taylor County, Iowa to parents Albert Leroy “Lee” and Cora Grace (Wilson) James. Helen grew up in the hills of southwestern Iowa, around Corning. She wrote a book of memories for each of her grandchildren and shared with them how she loved sliding on the hills in the wintertime, playing in the orchard, going down in the storm cave on a hot summer day with her two brothers and sister to cool off, playing with dolls and paper dolls with her sister, and going to the creek to play in the sand.
Helen’s Grandma James lived with them when she was growing up, and Helen spent much time listening to her grandmother tell stories of when she was young. Grandma had come with her family to Iowa from Ohio, and had walked behind a covered wagon during much of that journey. Grandma, Barbara Ellen, always had time to spend with Helen, and it seems she influenced Helen’s life in a special way.
Helen loved learning and reading. The quote from Thomas Jefferson, “I cannot live without books,” is very fitting for her. Helen told how delighted she was when she was allowed to go to school at the age of four with her two older brothers and finally learned how to read for herself.
After graduating from high school in Villisca, Iowa, she took training to become a school teacher. She taught at four different country schools in southern Iowa. Here is what she wrote for her grandchildren, “I boarded at one of the homes in the district and walked to school. I did my own janitor work and taught eight grades. One school had nine. My salary was $50 a month when I started. The last year I taught it had gone up to $100 a month.”
Helen simply loved books and read voraciously. She told of how her dad would purchase a box of books at an auction sale and bring it home for the family to share. It seems that was the greatest treasure he could bring home. Her advice would be, “Always take a book with you. You never know when you will have time to read.”
Helen met her future husband, Art, through her brother, Gerald. Art and Gerald were in the Army together during World War II. Gerald gave Art his little sister’s name and address and Art and Helen began corresponding with each other during the war.
After Art got home from the war, he decided to take a trip to Iowa and get to know this Helen he had been writing to. When Art returned to Minnesota from Iowa, he wrote Helen a letter asking her to marry him. She responded, “Yes,” and so they were married on a sunny, cold day on April 2, 1948 in Red Lake Falls, with deep snow on the ground.
Helen and Art lived on the farm just east of Brooks for 53 years. Helen enjoyed helping Art on the farm. She usually fed the little calves in the barn, took care of the chicks in the brooder house, drove the tractor on the baler, and drove the truck for grain hauling. They made a good “team.”
In September 2001, Art and Helen moved to The Country Place Assisted Living Facility in Erskine. Helen had numerous close friends there, whom she enjoyed visiting with, played Bingo twice a week, was involved with weekly Bible Study, and enjoyed attending the sing-a-longs over at PMCC. In May 2013, she moved to First Care Nursing Home in Fosston, where she was currently living.
There were other things that Helen loved in her life. She loved music and learned to sing harmony when she sang with her dad while growing up. She sang numerous years with The Christian Fellowship Singers of the Plummer area and greatly enjoyed that time together. She enjoyed sewing, embroidery work, and quilting. She loved gardening and raising flowers. She enjoyed poetry and actually wrote many poems in her younger years. She enjoyed doing crossword puzzles and liked game shows on TV such as Jeopardy. She enjoyed making homemade candy and sharing it with family and friends. She also loved visiting with her grandchildren and playing games with them like Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble.
Last, but certainly not least, Helen had a deep and abiding faith in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ. She wrote that this was the most important thing in her life. She prayed daily for family and friends, and her deepest heart’s desire would be that all would come to salvation by believing in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior and by accepting His death on the cross as payment for their sins.
Survivors include her two children, Jimmy (Susan) Hagge of Brooks, and Betty (Harvey) Johnson of Fosston; six grandchildren, Laurel (Ben) Smith of Cottage Grove, Sarah Hagge (Burgess) Smith of Chicago, Ill., Kirsten (Matt) Larsen of Maple Grove, Joshua (Tammy) Johnson of Bagley, Heather Broadwell of Fosston, and David (Riley) Johnson of Plymouth; seven great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Art; infant son, Kenneth; parents, Albert and Cora James; brothers, Floyd and Gerald James; and sister, Irene James.
Arrangements are with the Carlin-Hoialmen Funeral Home. Messages of condolence may be sent at carlinhoialmen.com.