Services to be June 18 For Myrtle L. Helem

Category: Obituaries
Created on Friday, 07 June 2019 16:05
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Myrtle L. Helem

Services for Myrtle Louise Helem, longtime Sitka businesswoman, will be held 1 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, at Sitka National Cemetery.
The Rev. Julie Platson, of St. Peter’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, will officiate the graveside service. A  casual memorial reception will follow at Longliner Lodge Restaurant.
Myrtle passed away May 21 at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital-SEARHC after a brief illness. She was 94.
Myrtle Louise Beall was born February 13, 1925, in Vancouver, B.C., the second of three children of Chester Beall and Eliza Angeline Beall. The family moved to West Seattle in the early 1930s, and Myrtle was raised there. Myrtle’s father passed away at a young age, and caring for and raising the children fell solely upon her mother Eliza. As a result, Myrtle, as well as her siblings, had to enter the workforce at a young age. She developed strong business skills and a passion for hard work that would later pave the way to several successful businesses in Sitka.
After graduating West Seattle High School in 1943, Myrtle volunteered with the Navy Waves (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during WW II.  Shortly after the end of her Navy service, she met Gordon James Helem, also a Navy veteran, and the two eloped to San Francisco and wed on October 15, 1947. Their first child, Theresa L., was born the following year.
Gordon was a commercial fisherman who had fished in Alaska for many years. With his connection to Alaska, a strong work ethic and a knack for electrical engineering, he landed a job at Ketchikan Pulp Mill while Myrtle was employed by Bob Ellis at the original Ellis Airlines.
The couple lived in Ketchikan for two years before Gordon went to work in construction at the new pulp mill in Sitka. After construction, Gordon became chief electrician for the new Alaska Pulp Mill in Sitka in 1959. By this time, the couple had three children, with the birth of G. Kenneth and Gerald L. and were ready to set down roots.
While Gordon continued his career with the pulp mill, Myrtle ran two successful laundromats, the Whirlomat on America Street in 1959 and Town & Country Laundry located in the Ken Brown Apartments complex in 1966. In 1972, the Helems founded Sitka Electrical Contractors, then in 1977 Myrtle and Gordon started Sitka True Value Hardware Inc.
While handling multiple jobs, growing businesses, and raising a family, Gordon and Myrtle were also building their dream home that they shared together until Gordon’s passing in 1996. Myrtle continued to live at the home until her passing.
Myrtle Helem was a determined, proud and strong-willed businesswoman. She continued to work and help at Sitka True Value on a daily basis until just a few years ago. Myrtle was often found straightening up aisles, working with employees on product placement, and balancing the accounts.
Besides her passion for her businesses, Myrtle was a long-time active member in several social community organizations including Sitka Emblem Club and the Beta Sigma Phi Women’s Organization.  
Myrtle Helem was preceded in death by her husband Gordon Helem; mother and father Chester and Eliza (Peggy) Beall; and her two sisters, Norma Hilsinger and Dorthea Pitner; and grandson Randy Helem.
Myrtle Louise Helem is survived by her three children, Theresa Helem, Ken (Carole) Helem, and Jerry (Mary) Helem; eight grandchildren,  Doug Helem, Jeff (Jolene) Helem, Tim Bernard, Katie (Jason) Yuhaz, Nicole (Chris) Renneker, Amanda (Jon) Martin, Ashley Grearson and Danielle Helem; and 14 great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the charity of your choice.