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Helen's Story

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Helen H. Smeltzer died at the Homesteader Assisted Living Facility in Benzonia on Aug. 15, 2017. She had previously been a resident of Frankfort and Blaine Township.
Helen H. Smeltzer was born Helen Marie Hughes on July 28, 1921 in Washington, D.C., to Roy Ellis and Rose Elizabeth (née McDonald) Hughes. She was the elder sister of two brothers and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1939. She then attended Indiana University where she met her first husband, ROTC member, Charles I. Littell. They married on Aug. 2, 1941 and had the first wedding reception ever held at the "new" Indiana University Memorial Union. Their daughter, Mary, was born in April 1943, so Helen suspended her college studies. Sadly, U.S. Army Capt. Charles I. Littell was killed shortly after D-Day on a Normandy Beach while defending our freedom in World War II.
Helen and Mary then lived with Helen's parents and one of her younger brothers. She worked a variety of jobs and continued her college courses at George Washington University receiving an A.B. in Spanish from Indiana University in 1947. Shortly after that, she, her daughter, her parents, and brother moved to Vienna, Austria for 1 1/2 years while her father, a colonel and lawyer with the U.S. Army worked on the reconstruction following World War II.
Helen and Charles' cousin, Renee, had become close friends. Renee was married to Percy J. Smeltzer, an Army captain who had completed his service years. They lived in northern Michigan and had two daughters, Lucille and Mary Pat. Unfortunately, Renee died in 1950. Family members lovingly encouraged Helen and Percy to become better acquainted. Consequently, they married on March 28, 1951.
Helen moved to Frankfort on a cold April day. She learned to drive on snowy roads and bravely became a mother to three young daughters. She took on the incredible challenge of creating a cohesive blended family that went on to include four more children; Ann, Ronald, and twins, Susan and Donald.
Helen was a charter member of the Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, the Periwinkle Garden Club, and Chapter EY of the PEO. She was also a member of the Frankfort Study Club and the Michigan Shores Cooperative board of directors. She served on the book selection committee of the Benzie Shores District Library for several years. She was a member of Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority and the DAR. She was active with all St. Ann Church activities including the Women's Guild.
She is survived by her children, Lucille (Michel) Legault, Cantley, Quebec, Canada; Mary Patricia Thompson, Coombs, British Columbia; Ann (William) Henning, Frankfort; Ronald (Jane) Smeltzer, Ventura County, California; Susan (James) Riley, Kingsley; and Donald (Kristin) Smeltzer, Frankfort. Additional survivors include her brother, Roy E. (Joyce) Hughes; sister-in-law, B. Ann Hughes; 23 grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Helen was preceded in death by her parents; her husbands, Charles I. Littell and Percy J. Smeltzer; her brother, Charles Hughes; her daughter, Mary Helen Jarrett; and an infant grandson.
Visitation and scripture service at St. Ann Church, Frankfort, on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017 from 4 to 7 p.m. Funeral at St. Ann Church on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017 at 11 a.m. with visitation one hour prior to the funeral.
Those desiring may make contributions to St. Ann Church or the Benzie Shores District Library.
Arrangements are by Jowett Family Funeral Homes & Cremation Service.
Published on August 19, 2017
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