Helen Ladine McDowell, 91, of Bloomington, formerly of Saunemin, passed away at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, at her son’s home in Normal, surrounded by family.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. at Saunemin United Methodist Church Friday with Pastor Jane Bradford officiating. Burial will follow at Sunny Slope Cemetery in Saunemin.
Friends may call two hours prior to services at the church Friday.
Calvert & Martin Funeral Home, Pontiac, has charge of arrangements.
Helen was born Nov. 4, 1924, in Pontiac, a daughter of William and Almira (Danforth) Kennedy. She graduated from Pontiac Township High School. On Jan. 19, 1947, Helen married Alva H. McDowell. He passed away March 8, 1978.
She is survived by two sons, Gerald (Marilyn) McDowell, Deltona, Fla., and James (Anne) McDowell, Normal; four grandchildren, Tim, LeeAnne, Jake and Sam; great-grandchildren, Alexis Kelly and Addison McDowell, daughters of Tim (Amy) McDowell, Kylee Hockenberry, daughter of LeeAnne (Kyle) Hockenberry; and several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
Her parents; one sister, Fern (Lavern) Martin; and one brother, Harold (Mildred) Kennedy, also preceded her in death.
Helen was a member of the Saunemin United Methodist Church, Saunemin Woman’s Club, Saunemin American Legion Unit 531. Helen organized many chicken suppers for the church where she was known for her homemade chicken gravy. She never missed a Memorial Day service.
She worked as a part-time secretary at Wolf Battery in the late 1940s. She raised two boys and was involved in school and church activities throughout her life. After the death of her husband in 1978, she drove a school bus for Saunemin schools for 25 years. Helen took many teams to ball games and groups on trips to Chicago. She came to be known lovingly as “Hot Rod Helen” by the students she served.
Helen also sold Avon for 35 years, winning many top sales awards. In the early 2000s, she moved to Normal to be closer to her family and began to work as a food demonstrator at Sam’s Club. She made many friends there, both co-workers and customers.
Helen loved spending time with family and friends. She never missed an Alan Jackson concert within driving distance. She enjoyed life, never complained and was always there if something needed done. She had written this quote by Hunter S. Thompson in one of her many photo albums and it speaks to her spirit: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways — chocolate in one h and, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up and totally worn out and screaming, ‘Wow, what a ride!’”
Memorial contributions may be made to Saunemin United Methodist Church.
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