Helen Henert of Rochelle, formerly of rural Ashton, passed away March 9, 2020. She was born Dorothy Helen Newby to parents Herbert and Dorothy Fultz Newby in Bushnell IL. Helen attended the University of Illinois before marrying Burnell Henert on September 7th, 1947.
Helen was raised on a farm near Bushnell IL, with her loving parents and sweet big brother Bill. Bill could talk Helen into helping him with many projects. When Bill was in charge of collecting for Easter Seals, he wisely determined more people would say "Yes" to a cute little girl than an older boy. So he would send Helen to knock on the neighbors' doors and ask if they would like to contribute. If they said Yes, Bill would finish the transaction. If they said No, it was Helen hearing the No instead of Bill.
Helen joined 4-H as a young girl, and became a 4-H leader when she moved to the Ashton area. When you include the many years she supported all of her children in 4-H, her involvement spanned 40 years.
Helen's married farm life started off very memorably when Helen and Burnell's first corn crop was a total loss due to a hail storm. Having five children in eight years kept things interesting. Helen woke the children every morning with the same routine: She would call upstairs "Morning on the farm, rise and shine!" Then she would sing the beginning of the Star Spangled Banner deliberately off key. She would finish by calling out children's names and waiting for a response to ensure everyone was awake. For birthdays, she would make the same special cake for Burnell and the kids.
Not only was Helen a supportive wife in the many day-to-day aspects of farm life, she also became very knowledgeable in financing and the marketing of the crops. When money markets came on the scene, she and Burnell were featured in Prairie Farming magazine, explaining how they were using this new option. One of Helen's proudest marketing moments occurred around President Carter's grain embargo. She suggested to Burnell that they quickly sell the corn, which they did, right before the price took a drastic downturn.
As her children grew, Helen had time to be more involved in her community. She was a founding member and past president of Illinois Agri-Women. She worked hard to recruit members and get this important organization off the ground. She was also very involved with the national organization -- American Agri-Women, where she received their highest award --the coveted Leaven Award -- in appreciation of her selfless dedication.
Helen was also a very proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, serving three times as Chapter Regent. She selflessly gave of her time and talents to many other groups during her lifetime, including the Illinois Health Improvement Association, the PEO Sisterhood, and Lincoln Highway Heritage Festival.
Helen was a lifelong Presbyterian and a faithful and very active member of the Rochelle church for over 70 years, She lived her faith and was known for reaching out to others. Helen's warm heart and giving spirit will be greatly missed.
Helen is survived by her children: Brian Henert, Steven (Cindy) Henert, Cindy (Kurt) Gunderfield, and Diane (Roger) DeFoe. She is also survived by her grandchildren Brad and Kama Henert, and her nephew and nieces Douglas Newby, Cynthia Newby, and Martha Jane Newby. Helen was preceded in death by her husband Burnell, son Craig, brother William, and infant sister Margaret.
The family would like to thank the staff at Hawthorne Inn (formerly San Gabriel) for their caring hearts. As Helen progressed from being very independent to needing more assistance, the managers and staff were always professional yet friendly, respectful and supportive.
Helen's memorial service will be postponed. Check back weekly for updates. Arrangements are being handled by Beverage-Lyons Family Funeral Home of Rochelle. Memorials may be given to the church.