Helen Ada Steinkruger was born June 6, 1929 to Hannah (Evers) and Charles Steinkruger on the family farm, 2 miles east and 4 miles north of Franklin, Nebraska. She was greeted by a sister, Norma, and two brothers, Wayne and Hervey. She attended grade school at District 34 near the family farm. Helen always told stories about having various teachers board with the family because the farm was so close to the school. Not only did she spend her weekdays with the teacher, but she often had to share her room with the teacher too. After eighth grade, she attended Franklin High School and graduated in 1947. She talked about the transition from a country school district to high school. District 34 only had a dozen students or less and when she went to high school, she had a class of 30. Quite a change for her, but she adapted well.
During her senior year of high school, several area guys were returning home from WWII. A friend of Helen’s fixed her up with a blind date with a Navy guy by the name of Lester (Bud) Schmidt. By that fall, they were engaged and married on August 4, 1950. They lived in Franklin for a couple of years and then moved in 1952 to the Schmidt family farm in the Spring Valley community north of Riverton. They were the parents of six children: Sheila, Alan, Jim, Doug, Mark and Tammie. They stayed on the farm until 1980 when they decided to move into Franklin. Helen resided in Franklin until March 2018 when she sold her home and moved to Bethany Home in Minden. After suffering a stroke in January 2019, she resided in Lincoln, Nebraska to be closer to family members.
Helen had a variety of interests. In addition to raising six children, she worked outside the home once the kids were older. She was an office manager for the Co-op, she owned a Yarn and Fabric shop, owned a Fashion Boutique store, and was the Senior Center director for 15 years. After retiring as the Senior Center director, she worked part time at the hospital in the kitchen, worked part time as the Activities Director at the Nursing Home and organized many trips and tours for Seniors to places such as Fort Randall and Reno.
Helen was also active in the Franklin Auxiliary for the VFW, serving as president and on various committees. She also wrote local weekly news for the Franklin County Chronicle in her later years.
Helen and Bud enjoyed traveling in their retirement years to Bud’s Navy reunions. In the 25 years the reunions were held, they only missed two. They visited a variety of states to attend the reunions and looked forward to them each summer.
Helen was always busy with her hands completing various knitting and crocheting projects. The kids remember getting hats, gloves, sweaters, vests, and house slippers she created. She also did many afghans and each grandchild received a quilt or afghan as a high school graduation gift.
Helen lived a long and productive life. Church and faith were an important part of her life. She was baptized in the Macon Methodist church as a child. She and Bud attended the Spring Valley Methodist church while living on the farm. After moving to Franklin, they attended the Franklin United Methodist Church. Until her stroke, you could count on her reading her devotionals and Bible at bedtime.
Helen was preceded in death by her brother, Hervey, at a young age. She really did not remember Hervey and commented that when she gets to heaven, she would really get to know him. She was also preceded in death by her parents, Hannah and Charlie Steinkruger, a son, Douglas Ray, her brother, Wayne and sister, Norma. Bud entered eternal life on April 10, 2010.
Helen entered her eternal life on July 14, 2020. Helen is survived by her daughter, Sheila of Kansas City, sons, Alan, of Riverton, Jim (Donna) of Avard, OK, Mark (Kathy) of Franklin, and daughter, Tammie (Phil) Awtry of Lincoln. She has 10 grandchildren, Cory Schmidt (Rachel) of Lincoln, Curtis Forbes of Hastings, Danny Schmidt of Waynoka, OK, Doug (Tatum) Schmidt of Wyanoka, OK, Kalin (Tamara) Schmidt, Wyanoka, OK, Emily (Austin) Braun, Atkinson, NE, Richelle Schmidt, Lincoln, NE, Mike (Alisa) Awtry of Santa Rosa, CA, Matt Awtry of Omaha, and Hannah (Evan) Lindblad of Lincoln. She also had 5 great grandchildren: Brett and Lauren Schmidt, Silas and Alden Awtry and Gatlin Schmidt. She also leaves behind a host of nieces and nephews from both the Steinkrukger and Schmidt families.
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Franklin County Historical Society
PO Box 74, Franklin NE 68939