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March 24, 1928 ~ March 30, 2023 (age 95) 95 Years Old
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Memorial services for LaVonne Helmer, 95, of Groton will be 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, April 11th at St. John's Lutheran Church, Groton. Rev. Jeremy Yeadon will officiate. Inurnment will take place in Hillside Cemetery, Langford at a later date under the direction of Paetznick-Garness Funeral Chapel, Groton.
Visitation will be held at the chapel on Monday from 5-7 p.m. with a prayer service at 7:00 p.m.
LaVonne passed away March 30, 2023 at Avantara Groton.
Julia LaVonne Jones Helmer was born on March 24, 1928, to Newton and Iva (Colcord) Jones at Langford, SD. LaVonne grew up on the family farm north of Langford. She attended country school and Langford High School graduating in 1946 as salutatorian. After graduation, she attended Northern State University as a business major, but later switched to education. While in college she worked at Jackson Hardware in Aberdeen. In 1948 she moved to Arizona for health reasons but returned to South Dakota a year later. She taught in Wetonka one year, Draper two years and Langford one year. On September 20, 1953, LaVonne was united in marriage to Richard Helmer at the Presbyterian Church in Langford. They lived in Andover briefly and then purchased a farm near Andover. LaVonne became an active member of Zion Lutheran Church and established many lifelong friendships during this time. To this union, four children were born, Deborah, Richard, Pamela, and Cheryl. LaVonne returned to teaching elementary school in Groton in 1963. She earned her two- year elementary education degree in 1963 and her bachelor’s degree in 1967. She returned to Northern to earn her first master’s degree in 1976 in Elementary Education and earned a second master’s degree in School Counseling in 1983. LaVonne taught briefly at NSU as an adjunct instructor in the School of Education and worked one year as a school counselor in Bristol. After retiring from teaching, LaVonne worked as a newspaper writer and authored two books. She loved her time writing for the newspaper because it allowed her the opportunity to visit with others and hear their stories. She participated on the Day County Historical Preservation Committee and facilitated the publication of the Day County History book. She enjoyed traveling across the United States and to Europe. She especially enjoyed meeting relatives when she visited Wales because she was very proud of her Welsh heritage. LaVonne enjoyed reading, playing Bridge, bowling, dancing, and visiting with everyone she encountered, but her favorite thing was spending time with family. She felt blessed to have such wonderful children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. LaVonne followed her grandchildren and great-grandchildren in their sports and school activities. She traveled with Pam to all her grandchildren’s high school graduations and most of their college graduations. LaVonne relished her time as a teacher and counselor and loved hearing from former students. LaVonne was a strong advocate for education and supported each of her children as they completed their college degrees. She was instrumental in helping her son-in-law, Bruce, launch his farming career as well.
LaVonne was currently a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Groton. Throughout her life, LaVonne was active in numerous organizations and kept detailed notes of her participation. She was a member of Kappa Delta Pi, Phi Kappa Delta, South Dakota Education Association, Aberdeen Area Retired Teachers, Eventide Study Club (President and Vice President), Parent Teacher Association (State President), American Association of University Women, Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (delegate to national convention), American Legion Auxiliary (Local and District President), General Federation of Women’s Clubs (District President), Metropolitan Club of Greater Aberdeen, Day County Republican Committee (Delegate to state convention) PEO and Kiwanis Club.
LaVonne is survived by her children Deborah (Robert) Utecht, Naperville, IL, Richard (Dee) Helmer, Geneva, IL, Pamela (Bruce) Merkel, Andover, SD and Cheryl Wold, Aberdeen, SD, grandchildren Eric Utecht, Brad (Claire) Utecht, Nicholas (Maggie) Helmer, Lanny (Becki) Merkel, Brett (Micaela) Merkel, Julia Wold and Jordan Wold, and great grandchildren Henry Utecht, Penelope Helmer, Sebastian Helmer, Justin Merkel and fiancé Lorelei Bohlin, Lillian Merkel, Mac Merkel and Olivia Merkel, and one sister, Jean (Bruce) Likness, Langford, and many beloved nieces, nephews, and cousins.
She was proceeded in death by her parents, two brothers, Ramon Jones and Keith Jones, sister-in-law, Rebecca (Keith) Jones, and son-in-law, Daniel Wold.