Helen Marie Klassen 59, of Osage died on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at her home in rural Osage, MN.
Helen Marie Nordstrom was born on January 24, 1953 the daughter of Albin & Norma (Sailor) Nordstrom in Detroit Lakes, MN. She graduated from Detroit Lakes High School, Moorhead State University, North Dakota State University and Harvard University in 1996 with a Masters Degree and a Ph D. Following graduation from Moorhead State University she started her teaching career at age 20 at Pine Point School in Ponsford. She also worked as the district manager for Northwestern Bell Telephone for several years. From 1977 to 1980 Helen was an associate professor at Bemidji State University. She was the director of the Circle of Life School from 1980 – 1982. In 1983 she began her teaching career at Moorhead State University; she took a leave of five years to become the founding President of the White Earth Tribal and Community College. In 1997 Helen returned to Moorhead State University as a full time tenured professor.
She was a member of the Detroit Lakes Seventh Day Adventist Church. Helen served on the Board of Trustees for the Blandin Foundation. She was a Bush Leadership Fellow at the Bush Foundation; she served as Department Chair of the American Multicultural Studies at Moorhead State University; and she was President of the Harvard American Indian Program Student Association. She received the Minnesota Indian Education Association Counselor of the Year Award; the Distinguished Alumni Award-- Minnesota State University Moorhead and in 2003 she received the Alumni Council Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education Alumni Council.
Helen loved spending time with her family, especially playing and having parties for her nieces and nephews. She also enjoyed traveling, fishing, teaching and eating at seafood restaurants. Helen had a very strong faith and loved the Lord. She enjoyed reading and studying her bible. To family, relatives and friends, Helen is remembered as the kindest, most generous, giving Christian in the world. Helen strived for excellence in everything she did, accomplishing the highest and most noble goals for humankind. She enjoyed teaching and helping students prepare for careers and life. Helen was most thankful for the opportunity to establish the White Earth Tribal and Community College. She said, “The work I have done will continue for generations.” May the Lord Bless and welcome home our precious Helen.
Helen is survived by: mother—Norma Nordstrom of Osage, MN; sisters—Erma Vizenor of Ponsford, MN, Betty Nordstrom of Detroit Lakes, MN; brothers—Peter Nordstrom of Osage, MN, James Nordstrom of Osage, MN; her nieces and nephews—Jody Steile of Detroit Lakes, MN, Kris Melby of Cloquet, MN, Tim Conklin of Detroit Lakes, MN. Jeff Conklin of Detroit Lakes, MN, Ron Peppel of Detroit Lakes, MN, Tami Peppel of Detroit Lakes, MN, Jessy Loerzel of Perham, MN. Shannon Avery of Bemidji, MN, Matt Avery of Detroit Lakes, MN, Gabriel Avery of Detroit Lakes, MN, Blossom Annette of Ulen MN and many great nieces and nephews.
Funeral Services will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday, August 3, 2012 at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Detroit Lakes, MN. Pastor Fred Crowell will be the officiant.
Visitation will be held on Thursday, August 2, 2012 from 5 until 7 PM at the Cease Family Funeral Home Chapel in Park Rapids. Visitation will also be held for 1 hour prior to the Services at the church on Friday. A 7 PM prayer service will be held.
Interment will be at Emanuel Lutheran Cemetery at Snellman.