Rueben William Helander

August 15, 1923 - June 8, 2019

Rueben William Helander passed away quietly at Michaelsen Health Center early Saturday morning, June 8th, just 2 months and a few days shy of his 96th birthday.  

He was born on August 15, 1923 in Chicago to William and Agnes (nee Norman) Helander.  He and Janice Hedin wed in Chicago on September 25, 1948.  Rueben is survived by his wife Janice, daughter Judy (Rick) Davis, sons Gary (Carol) Helander and Don (Ingrid) Helander, six grandchildren, Jennifer (Brock) Hampton, Jonathan (Betsy) Helander, Jason (Ruby) Helander, Nils (Elizabeth) Helander, Karl (Phoebe) Helander and Joel Helander, and eight great-grandchildren.  

 He is preceded in death by his parents and sister, Delores (William) Boutwell.

 Rueben lived a full and active life, even after he gave up the car in his early 90s.   He served on submarines during both WWII and the Korean War, always willing to tell astonishing, amazing, harrowing stories.  He was a draftsman and a designer by trade and worked as both an organ cabinet and jukebox designer.  His main hobby was woodworking, and at that he was a true craftsman.  He had a full workshop in each of his homes' basements and could often be found in the woodshop at the Holmstad retirement community.

 He was active both in the church and at the Holmstad.  When he retired, he worked part-time as a courier for Delnor hospital into his 80s. 

Rube loved playing games, especially Scrabble, card games and acey-duecy (the Navy version of backgammon).  He was a prankster, and when that “Rueben twinkle” in his eyes grew brighter, one could only wonder what he was up to now!  He also had a terrible sense of direction (good for laughs or groans) and taking the “scenic route” was always cause for looking at all these new things...getting lost was incidental.

He is remembered as a kind, gentle, playful soul with a keen sense of wonder that never left him, and a guy who loved his coffee!

A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, July 13th at 2:00p in the Commons Auditorium at the Holmstad, 700 W. Fabyan Parkway Batavia, IL. Someone will be there to let you know you’re at the right place and direct you to the auditorium. Call 630.879.4000 for additional information or directions.

Memorial contributions may be directed to Alzheimer’s Association

Guest Book

  • Sandy Edstrom Who could possibly not love Reuben. What a sweetheart of a man. As neighbors on Bernard Street, we each had a son who became best friends, and the Helander kitchen cupboards always welcomed my Tim looking for Oreos when he came to hang out with Don. Reuben and Jan have always been stalwarts of the church, and they leave a legacy never to be forgotten. Peace to Reuben's memory!
  • Tom Van Cleave Rueben was a great person, He was always happy and enjoyed every day in the fullest. When I was at the Holmstad as Marketing Director he was always helping in anyway he could.
  • Beryl Cook I met ‘Mr. Helander’ in grammar school, as Judy and I have known each other since then and are the greatest of friends. Reuben always had a great, positive attitude and certainly showed great warmth and love for her and his entire family. A very talented man, I’ve admired the wonder woodworking projects he did, from Judy’s bed with the storage drawers built underneath, to the beautiful VCR tapes holder, to the wonderful wooden duck she cherishes. Whenever I came to visit, I knew Mr Helander would welcome me with genuine delight. I had an opportunity to see him at his assisted living and had a terrific visit. A wonderful man. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire family.
  • Chris Montalto Judy, I know how dearly you loved your dad, and how he adored his Judy-kins! I know it's hard to say goodbye, but I am grateful that you had his loving presence in your life for so many years. Hugs, love and peace to you and all of your family.
  • Kathy & Ralph Flores We met Rueben at Rick & Judy's wedding. We know how much Judy loved and cared for her father. She would tell us stories about Rueben and how much she loved growing up under his loving care. Our deepest sympathy to all the family.