Helen Marie (nee Schmidt) Lenz passed away peacefully with her family by her side on Monday, February 27, 2023, at the age of 94. She was a loving daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend.
Helen was born on November 21, 1928, in Kaukauna, WI to Albert and Margaret Schmidt. She was the third of eight children. She truly loved her mother and father, brothers and sisters. She worked very hard to support her mother as the family grew. She even learned how to clean fish.
In 1946, she graduated from Kaukauna High School and started working at Giddings & Lewis with her sister, MaryAnn.
When Ignatius Lenz sent her the sheet music and words to “What are you doing New Year’s Eve” asking her for a date, Helen consented. On August 12, 1950, she married Ignatius (Iggy), the love of her life and together they raised four sons -Gregory, David, Mark and Thomas and one daughter, Mary. She was a devoted mother and a wonderful example – of faith, love, support, encouragement, generosity, and servitude- for her children. They enjoyed 33 years of marriage until Iggy’s early death in 1984.
In 1970 Helen went to work for the Kaukauna School District. She started as a study hall supervisor and worked her way up to the Administrative Payroll Assistant in the central office. She often talked about how she loved her job and the people she worked with. In 1994, after 24 years, she retired from her career. Her children certainly liked her working there as they hitched rides to and from school.
Nothing was more important to Helen than her family and helping others. She worked endlessly – supporting church projects (how much popcorn can one pop at a basketball game?, or how many envelopes can you stuff per minute?), community activities (such as the Hospital Auxiliary) and St. Mary’s Altar Society. She especially enjoyed spending time with her family - splitting wood with her sons and spending time at 7-Mile Pinecrest Resort with her whole family. Everyone was always welcome at her home -she was especially happy if they were (or even if they were not) hungry!. She would sew, knit and crochet endlessly. She also spent time making wine, gardening, and playing Canasta.
Following the example of her parents and guided by her strong Catholic faith, she lived her faith and prayed daily. Her very special prayer was the rosary and she often said more than one (or two or three) per day. Whenever anyone was struggling and needed help with anything, her fingers were automatically on the beads of a rosary.
Helen is survived by five children: Gregory (Janet) Lenz, Mary (James) Sternweis, David (Sandra) Lenz, Mark Lenz, Thomas (Karen) Lenz; seventeen grandchildren: Rebecca (Daniel) Pedersen, Jennifer (fiancé William Powell) Lenz, Emily Lenz, Thomas (Isabel) Sternweis, Sarah (Matthew) Talbot, Carol Sternweis, Garrett (Kit) Lenz, Alexandra (Scott) Niemi, Parker (fiancée Maura King ) Lenz, Madeline Lenz, Claire (Matthew) Pyron, Ellie (Travis) Schuh, Mitchell (Chelsea) Lenz, Claudia (Timothy) Hefferon, Kelsey (Jonathan) Vanden Brook, Devan (Tyler) Lenz-Fisher, Troy (Kylie) Lenz; and 16 great grandchildren. She is also survived by sisters: MaryAnn Austin, Eleanor (Marvin) Hietpas, and Florence (Mike) McKenna; brother-in-law: Edward Mentzer; sister-in-law: Barbara Schmidt; as well as numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
Helen was preceded in death by her husband: Ignatius Lenz, her parents: Albert and Margaret (Wanke) Schmidt; father and mother-in-law: Gregory and Lena Lenz; brothers: Arthur (Gladys) Schmidt, Raymond (Carol and LaVerne) Schmidt, William Schmidt; sister: Margaret Mentzer; brother-in-law: Frank Austin; sisters-in-law: Pauline (Lloyd) VandeHey, and Julitta (James) Bergeron.
In Lieu of flowers, a memorial is being established in her name to contribute to Helen’s many meaningful charities.
The funeral liturgy for Helen will be held at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at St Katharine Drexel - St Mary's Site, located at 119 W. 7th Street in Kaukauna, with Fr. Jerry Pastors officiating. There will be a visitation before the mass at the church from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM. There will also be a visitation at church on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, beginning at 5:00 PM and concluding with a rosary service at 7:45 PM.