Obituary: Helen Arlene Miller

Helen Arlene (Bontrager) Miller passed away Wednesday, Feb 7, 2018, at her home at Schowalter Villa in Hesston.

Helen was born Dec 26, 1924, in rural Kalona Iowa, to Chris P. and Viola (Hershberger) Bontrager. She was the second of seven children. The family lived on a farm, and she attended one-room schools in Johnson and Iowa counties.

Helen attended Sharon High School for three years and graduated from Kalona High School in 1943. Her senior year she lived in Kalona, working for room and board with a doctor’s family while he was called up for the war. She then worked as a nurse aide for a year at University Hospital in Iowa City to earn money to further her education. Needing a year of college before she could get into nurses school, Helen enrolled at Hesston College. While at Hesston College, she worked several jobs to help pay her way. She scrubbed floors at Green Gables, waited tables in the cafeteria and did babysitting for the John Kopenhaver family.

After Hesston College, Helen attended and graduated in 1948 with her RN degree from La Junta Mennonite School of Nursing in La Junta, Colo.

Helen was employed in the nursing profession at various hospitals and nursing homes for most of her married life. Her first nursing job was at Goessel Hospital in Goessel, then Axtell Christian Hospital in Newton, Halstead Hospital in Halstead and finally Kansas Christian Home in Newton, where she retired at the age of 68. She then worked various part-time jobs and did volunteer work with RSVP.

Helen and C. Keith Miller of Hesston were married on June 11, 1949, in Iowa City, IA. After completing nurses training, they moved to Hesston, and Helen began her long nursing career. To this marriage, three children were born, Douglas, Lowell, and Janine.

A member of Whitestone Mennonite Church in Hesston at her death, she was baptized at the age of 11 and became a member of the East Union Mennonite Church in rural Kalona. After her marriage, she transferred her membership to the Pennsylvania Mennonite Church in rural Newton (Zimmerdale), and after completion of the new church, she transferred it to Whitestone.

Helen had a passion for reading since early childhood and read many books over the years, continuing until the last few weeks of her life. She also enjoyed poetry, collecting many poems she liked and making a scrapbook, even writing some of her own poems.  Other hobbies included crocheting and knitting, gardening, traveling, handcrafts, church work and sewing.  While at Hesston College she took sewing classes and sewed for family and friends for many years.

Helen was preceded in death by her husband C. Keith, her parents Chris P. and Viola Bontrager, her sisters Velma Yoder, Bette Messenger, Clara Belle Schlabaugh, and CarolynBontrager, and a brother Marlyn Bontrager.

She is survived by her children Doug (Barb) of Oracle, AZ, Lowell (Cheryl) of Newton, KS, and Janine (John) Yoder of Ellensburg, WA., one sister Marge Friesen of Newton, KS and 5 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Graveside services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, at Eastlawn Cemetery, with memorial services to follow at 11 a.m. at Whitestone Mennonite Church, Hesston. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, in the Schowalter Villa Chapel. Memorial contributions may be made to the Good Samaritan Fund or the Whitestone Church Agape Fund, both in care of Miller-Ott Funeral Home, Hesston.