Helen Bertha Vadnais, 97, passed away peacefully in her Livonia, MI home on June 9, 2021.
Helen was born on November 26, 1923 in Tapiola, MI to the late Paul and Pearl (Spearman) Papke. She spent many happy years among her family and friends, going to school, being involved in sports and participating in 4H Club.
She married her high school sweetheart, Albert Vadnais, in July 1944, and was able to spend 64 years side by side as steadfast partners. In 1949, they packed up their three young children, Albert Jr.,Kenneth and Patricia, and moved to Livonia to find work. After living a few years with family, Helen and Albert were able to buy a corner property where they built their family life. Helen can be described as a crafter, building a scale model of her childhood home among many other projects; a gardner, tending to a large vegetable and flower garden; a food handler, supplying her family with preserved food year round; a gifted seamstress, diligently crafting projects from Halloween costumes to Christmas gifts; a good cooker, serving up food from her heart to anyone and everyone who would walk through the door. Strangers as well as family were greeted with a warm welcome and a hug on the way out. She was interested in the story, either telling or listening with undivided attention, always looking for an opportunity to teach. Helen was fiercely loyal, strong willed, feisty and stubborn when it mattered. Hosting family gatherings was a regular part of her life as a devoted Mom and Gram, utilizing every square inch of the park-like setting of her yard for the enjoyment of the family.
Helen worked as the Food Service Director for the Crestwood school district, managing many school kitchens, lunchrooms and staff for 30 years. Her colleagues respected her strong leadership and generous heart. One of her passions was bowling on a league with her friends from work. Her high average and holding first place as a team was a point of pride, bowling once or twice a week well into her 80’s..
She was preceded in death by her husband, Albert Joseph Vadnais, Sr., (2009); her son, Albert Joseph Vadnais, Jr. (2019); grandson Bill Rogers (2012); grandson John Pelarski (1988); sister June Gagnon (2015) and brother Emil Papke (2019).
She is survived by her son Kenneth Vadnais, her daughter Patricia (the late Joseph) Goudeseune; grandchildren Michele (Joe) Gross, Joseph (Wendy) Vadnais, Kelli (Tim) Kutrukis, Patrick Vadnais, Danyelle Goudeseune, Beth (Mike) Kobylasz, Susan Rybicki, Joe (Amy) Goudeseune; as well as many great grandchildren and great great grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and so many others whose lives she touched, most notably dear friend, Mary Axford.
A private family burial has taken place.