Donald “Don” Helmke, born March 4, 1929, died Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, at home surrounded by family. Don was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Mabel (Olsen) Helmke and Herbert Helmke. He was a 1947 graduate of Stoughton (Wisconsin) High School, earned accounting and business administration degrees at the Madison Business College and studied at the UW-Graduate School of Banking.
Don was a proud veteran, serving his country in the U.S. Army during the Korean war. He was a life member of VFW Post 328, as well as a member of the American Legion Otis Sampson Post No. 59 and its Honor Guard.
Committed to his community throughout his life, Don brought values of helping others, fairness and integrity to everything he did. He had a successful, 35-year career in banking while also serving on the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce, Fair Board, Hospital Board, and Skaalen Board. He was a member of the Elks for more than three decades, Jesters and Lions Club for nearly 50 years, and was a Mason and Shriner for nearly 60 years.
In 1984, he was chosen royalty of Syttende Mai with his wife, Doris. Don and Doris married in Stoughton in 1953, celebrating 66 wonderful years together with their three children and two grandchildren. Don was a quiet, unassuming leader with a mischievous grin, a big heart and strong faith, devoting many volunteer hours to his church. He could fix almost anything and once helped build a sailboat from scratch. He loved playing a good card game with family and friends and spending time outdoors, whether it was a walk in the woods, playing 18 holes of golf or skiing down a mountain.
Don was preceded in death by his parents and siblings, Merlin “Bud” (Gertrude), Eileen (Henry) Godleski and Grace Staffrude. He is survived by his wife and children Susan, Jane (Teresa Sterns) and Karl; grandchildren, Keegan and Grace Helmke; brother-in-law, Ruffin Staffrude; and many nieces, nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews.
Visitation will be held on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, from 3-5 p.m. at Gunderson Stoughton Funeral and Cremation Care, 1358 Hwy. 51 N at Jackson St., Stoughton and on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, at 10 a.m. at First Lutheran Church, 310 E. Washington, St., Stoughton, with the Celebration of Life at 11 a.m. Burial will be held at Lutheran South Cemetery. A luncheon will follow burial at the church.
The family wishes to thank the staff of SSM/Stoughton Hospital, Skaalen and Agrace for their exceptional care of Don and our family.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be made to First Lutheran Church (flcstoughton.com) or the Stoughton Veterans Memorial (stoughtonveteransmemorial.org/donate). Online condolences may be made at gundersonfh.com.
Funeral & Cremation Care
1358 Hwy. 51 at Jackson St.