Helen Marie Martowlos was born November 15, 1927, to Frank and Katazyna (Honinik) Martowlos. The third of four daughters, she was raised on the family farm in the South Bradford/Savona area in upstate New York. The family was part of a group of Polish immigrants who settled the area. As such, Helen spoke Polish at home and learned English at school.
Education and music were staples of Helen’s childhood, as both were important to her father, who, along with Helen’s two older sisters, raised her after her mother died when Helen was five years old. Helen’s appreciation of learning continued throughout her life; she graduated high school as valedictorian of her class. She pored over the dictionary and encyclopedia. She was an avid reader, a master of Reader’s Digest Word Power vocabulary quiz and crossword puzzles. She loved classical music and as a lifelong Christian, most recently enjoyed old-time Gospel as well.
After high-school graduation, Helen moved to New York City, eventually working at the Federal Reserve Bank. While at a USO dance there, she met a handsome Navy sailor from Zahl, N.D., Jay Anderson. Helen later transferred to the Federal Reserve in Minneapolis, where Jay was attending school. Helen and Jay were married in August 1951, in Zahl, N.D. Even though it was harvest season, work stopped so people from near and far could meet this East Coast bride.
Helen and Jay established their home in Minneapolis before returning to the Zahl community in 1952. Helen quickly adapted to prairie life, including (so she would tell her children) killing and plucking chickens for the family meals. While Helen was at home on the North Dakota countryside, she often talked about how she missed the abundance of trees and fruit orchards found in upstate New York. On a trip to her homestead to celebrate her 75th birthday, she finally got to show her granddaughters that lush countryside.
In 1959, Helen and Jay moved their family to Williston. For a stay-at-home mom, Helen was active. She loved to exercise, everything from standing on her head against the living-room door to walking on her treadmill to climbing a tree to prune a branch. Helen preferred to be outdoors communing with nature over anything else. She loved to work in the back yard with her garden, apple trees and grape vines. Her greatest joy, however, was marveling at her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was employed at Mercy Hospital for many years beginning in the late 1970s.
Helen was baptized as an infant and stayed close to God throughout her life. She was an active member of Light of Christ Lutheran Church.
Helen is survived by her four children, Jennie (Glen) Granrud, of Williston; Mike (Belinda) Anderson, of Leadville, Colo.; Linda (Rick) Tofte, of Williston; and Tracy (Alan) Ford, of Littleton, Colo.; eight grandchildren, Alex Brannon, San Diego; Ian (Tricia) Anderson, Erica (Michael) Fellon, of Plentywood, Mont.; Brad Tofte, Lisa (Steve) Peterson, Erin (Josh) Olson, of Williston; Katie (Nolan) and Jack Ford of Littleton, Colo.; as well as nine great-grandchildren, Van and Avery Fellon; Jace, Elyn and Bowen Peterson; Tatiana, Sloan, Isla and Nyle Olson.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Jay, her parents Frank and Katazyna, and her three sisters, Sister Albina Martowlos, Eugenia Hale and Phyllis Owen.
Friends are welcome to visit www.eversoncoughlin.com to share memories of Helen or leave condolences for her family.