Low (nee Stahl) Helen Johanna, age 99, Born 2/21/24 in St Paul, MN and longtime resident of Stillwater MN, went peacefully to heaven on 10/9/23 shortly after a massive stroke. She stayed as long as she could and wanted to make it to 100! Helen made lasting friendships with residents and caregivers at Brookside Assisted Living with her quick wit and silly sense of humor these last two years. Her greatest love was her family, especially the little ones.
Survived by two children, Rick (Melecia) Low and Jami (Steve) Flanagan; grandchildren Jennifer, Molly (Mike), Michael (Mallory), Nicholas, Jorge, Steven, Christopher, Erin, Sean (Cami) and great grandchildren, Kalista, Preston, Aolani, Hercules, Kade, Jordan and Kimber Grace. Preceded in death by her husband John “Jack” (2004), son Randy (2015), son John (1969), parents Fred and Ida Stahl, brother Earl and sisters Dorothy, Betty and Jackie.
Much took place during Helen’s 99 years. Born during the Great Depression, as a child she grew up in St Paul and spent time with family in the St Croix Valley. Her grandfather, a logger and warden at the Stillwater prison, was her favorite person with whom she shared her birthday with each year. The family spent much time on the Kinnickinnic river and on family farms in Western WI. As a teenager she went to school at Harding High, was proud of mastering the Palmer handwriting method and became a marksman winning rifle competitions. In her 20’s she started a career with the railroad, saw the devastation of WWII when her classmates were killed or wounded, losing their eye site or limbs, married, had two children and lost her first husband, John Waech. In her 30’s Helen worked for 3M, remarried and had her third child. In her 40’s had her 4th child and enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom. Vacations were spent at the lake or camping where she mastered the art of cooking outdoors over a campfire.
Helen was fearless, capable, strong willed and did everything with elegance, grace and fashion, a lady through and through. She had many jobs over the years, willing to try most anything, but numbers were her favorite. She was very proud of her career as a keypunch operator at Northern Pacific Railroad, later known as Burlington Northern. A keypunch operator was responsible for recording the destination and contents of each railroad freight car and she knew the numbers by heart. Helen had a knack for numbers. She said she had a computer for a brain. Any time we mentioned a town on the railway, she would instinctively shout out the train miles from St Paul. After being a stay-at-home mom for several years, Helen became a part-time switchboard operator and worked admissions at Lakeview Hospital helping the doctors, the nurses and caring for her neighbors. To stay busy, she did a variety of jobs with the Idea Group where she made many friends. In retirement, she went to work for the Lowell Inn and again made lasting friendships and especially enjoyed the foreign exchange students she took under her wing.
Helen had a natural talent for painting. Her husband cut out wood figures and made trinket boxes and step stools for her to decorate with her Rosemaling, a very precise and detailed form of painting that she mastered. She painted cupboards, shelves, tables, wooden spoons, bowls and the occasional toilet seat. Some she gave away as gifts and some she sold. When not making strawberry jam, a hot dish or baking her famous sandwich buns and honey wheat bread or liver sausage, Helen played the organ and piano, enjoyed knitting and had flower and vegetable gardens.
A celebration of her life will be held November 30 at 4-7pm at Bradshaw Celebration of Life Center, Stillwater MN.