Lifelong Whatcom County resident, Wiona Mae (Copes) Helgesen, 89, passed away Friday, December 16, 2022. Raised in Maple Falls, Washington, she married Harold Daniel Helgesen and settled on a plot of acreage buttressed by the meandering North Fork of the Nooksack River, a place that would remain her home for 73 years. With the untimely death of her husband in 1968, Wiona took on raising four daughters independently, an arduous endeavor for any one person, successfully raising her girls through hard work, determination and love. Working a wide variety of jobs to make ends meet over the years, what was most rewarding for Wiona was her role as a home health caregiver. She took the “care” and “giver” seriously along with enthusiasm and a tender heart. Her support was consistent and reliable, no matter if it meant traversing through snowy weather in her little front-wheel drive red truck.
Always living within her means, she took immense pride in landscaping and maintaining her homestead. Whether it was growing fruit trees, vegetables, flowering plants, or a portion of the land made available to hay, she tended to her entire property. In the fall she would not be content until every plant was tidied up and ready for the upcoming winter, and her lawn tractor was winterized and placed in the garage in pristine condition.
Wiona’s life epitomized the words dedication and sacrifice, as her steadfast commitment to her children grandchildren was evident throughout her life. She prioritized their education and extracurricular activities, dutifully attending band/choir concerts, sports, and various other school events. Through the involvement of her children and grandchildren in sports, she became a passionate supporter of Mount Baker athletics throughout the years. This was never more evident when she was hospitalized in the fall of 2017 for emergency surgery and insisted upon listening on the radio to the Mount Baker girls’ basketball team as they won the state A title.
Her great grandchildren were a special joy in her life. She expressed her love for them in numerous ways, whether it was baking a favorite treat, attending little league events or birthday celebrations, or sewing for each great grandchild their own individual quilt, which were handed down to families this Christmas. She leaves a treasure trove of homemade recipes in her little recipe book, one that her daughters will cherish. Some recipes could feed a cathedral, based on the portions, and reflects upon one who left little for herself while her commitments to others spread well beyond her little home on the North Fork.
Wiona is preceded in death by her husband (Harold Helgesen); and her much loved son-in-law, John W. Little. She leaves behind her four daughters: Sonia Nelson of Everson, Ina Little of Deming, Alice (Ian) Linterman of Bellingham, and Amy Helgesen of Maple Falls; five grandchildren: Jacob (Natasha) Little, Jenny (Brian) Little, Jeffrey (Jessica) Little, Stefan (Amber) Nelson, and Danni Griggs; six great-grandchildren; Elijah Little, Sadey Nelson, Jaklyn Little, Jaelynn Little, foster baby, Leah, and baby girl Nelson on the way; and daughter and granddaughter by choice, Deborah and Lilly Oakes of Custer.
We will have a private family celebration of life for mom in the spring.
Please consider donations to Whatcom County Fire District #14, PO Box 482, Sumas, WA 98295 or Whatcom Feline Alliance, 5309 Bellaire Way, Bellingham, WA 98226 or online at bit.ly/DonateToWFA.