Helen L. EngenJanuary 8, 1937 ~ March 23, 2017 (age 80)
Helen L. Engen, age 80, of Viroqua, formerly of Stoddard, passed away at the Hillview Care Center in La Crosse on March 23rd, 2017. Helen Lucille (Ross) Engen was born January 8, 1937, on her family's farm near Retreat Wisconsin to Robert and Eva (Oliver) Ross. She was the third of their four children. She attended Retreat's Grade School through 8th Grade, and in 1955 was in the first graduating class to attend all four years at De Soto's new high school. As a young girl she provided care to elderly neighbors, enjoyed going out dancing with her big brother Howard and his friends, was a founding member of the Retreat Ramblers 4-H Club, sang alto in choirs at school, in 4-H, and at the Retreat United Methodist Church. In 1957 she married Guy Ernest Engen. They farmed in the Retreat and Ferryville area, eventually returning to purchase the farm where she was born after having spent a few years in Stoddard. She managed the farm bookkeeping, tobacco crop, the kitchen garden, chickens and young cattle while Ernie managed the crops and milk cows. Together they raised 3 children, and then asked for more, providing a home for many foster children. They were very active in the Wisconsin Foster Parents Association developing training and support for rural foster parents throughout the state. After most of the kids were grown and gone, she and Ernie left the farm and returned to their "retirement" home in Stoddard. Ernie finished college and Helen worked with developmentally disabled folks and folks with dementia in group homes and assisted living facilities. She left that work when Ernie's health required that she care for him. During that time she suffered a brain tumor for which she had a successful surgery. Throughout her life she maintained ties with her home church in Retreat and secondary home church in Stoddard, and Freeman Lutheran Church where she and Ernie were members throughout their married years.
She is survived by her sister Ardis Stilwell, Brother Gale (Sandra) Ross, children and foster children: Charlene (Barbara) Engen-Mangskau, Joel Engen, Lisa (Tim) Justis, Tim Baker and Bobby Running. She is also survived by 7 grandchildren and step-grandchildren: (Lillian Bozonie, Erin (Jennifer) Collins, Anna (Justin) Collins-Davis, Ajia (Christian) Hagen, Mali (George) Collins-White, Beni Collins, and Claire Justis. She recently welcomed her first great grandchild: Louis Patrick Collins-Davis.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Brother Howard Ross, infant daughter Linda, infant grandson Terry Justis, her husband Ernie.
Funeral Services will be held on Wednesday, March 29th at the Freeman Lutheran Church at 10:30 a.m. Burial will take place in the church cemetery. Family and friends may call on Tuesday at the Thorson Funeral Home in Viroqua from 4-7 p.m., they may also call after 9:30 a.m. until the time of the service at the church. Online condolences may be left at www.thorsonfuneralhome.com. The Thorson Funeral Home of Viroqua is serving the family.