With sadness my sister and I regret to announce the passing of our Mother, Helen L. Lingenfelter Maichel (“Helen”) aged 90. On July 23rd she died from natural causes with her children close by in her home at “The Springs at Butte” in Butte, Montana, She is preceded in death by her Husband Homer in 1997.
Helen was born May 25th, 1930 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania to Richard and Marie Lingenfelter. She was the ninth of eleven children. In 1949 her father, a munitions machinist, was transferred to Concord, California by his employer, the Pittsburg Steel Company. There she met our father, Homer E. Maichel, a native Montanan serving the US Marine Corps in San Diego.
On July 8th, 1950 they married, and Helen went to work for Convair Aircraft as a “Rosie the Riveter” pin striping the wings of Convair’s B-36 “Peacemaker” bombers.
In 1952 they moved to Harrison, Montana, Homer’s birthplace, where they operated a small café and a year later took over the management of the family’s farm and ranch. Without indoor toilet plumbing for several years, Helen butchered her own meat, churned her own butter, and baked her own bread; feeding her family and dozens of ranch hands. She would tell us she was a lousy cook and hated cooking. She was right on both counts, but she could cut and wrap a hog in half-a-day on her own.
She and Homer had two children, Jeff in 1955 and Jennifer in 1957. Mom used to tell us Dad only stopped working long enough to drop Mom off at the hospital in Ennis and pick up her up when she and the baby could come home. Dad would confirm this routine later.
Life on the ranch was never easy, but great fun most of the time, and Helen thrived in it. She accredited that life and the state of Montana for making her who she was… tough, independent, and strong.
In 1990 Mom and Dad sold the ranch and moved to Pipestone, Montana, a roadside hot springs along I-90 and retired in a foothill estate that Mom said was the only spot in Silver Bow County the wind never blew!
While retired she spent lots of hours creating stained glass art, making baby blankets for sick kids, and volunteering at St. James Hospital in Butte as a “candy striper”. In later years she would serve on the Board of Directors of the Hospital’s Foundation.
When Homer passed in 1997 Helen moved into Butte. There she maintained a private residence and continued to participate in donating her time and money to civic organizations such as the Widowed Persons Group (Board director), the Chelsea Bailey Animal Shelter, the Salvation Army of Butte, Montana, and the Silverbow County Sheriff’s office (she once asked the Sheriff “Now, should I bring my own gun or will you provide one?”).
Always an adventurer, Helen “free dived” from a perfectly good airplane and traveled to 37 countries on all the continents of the world except Antarctica, ranging from the outback of Australia to the pyramids of Egypt.
Her optimism and love of life was amazing, it influenced everyone. She went out of her way to help and befriend everyone she met, she told me once “if you can put a smile on someone’s face, it will put one on yours!”
Helen is also survived by her brother Ted Lingenfelter of Grass Valley, California, who was her best friend growing up; her daughter-in-law Larisa, son-in-law Keith, grandchildren Jill, Alla, and Nina, and great grandchildren Dasha, Denis, Joshua, Annabelle, and Abigail. And a great bunch of nephews and nieces, living in Montana and the Northern California area.
Helen asked not to have a funeral. She asked that her body be cremated, and her ashes be spread from above over the Tobacco Root Mountains. She also instructed us to tell you she loved you all and you have her deepest gratitude if you are reading this.
We have special thanks to Shawna and Janet, Mom’s caregivers for the past several months, and the staff at The Springs at Butte, for doing their job so well.
In Helen’s memory please donate to the important causes of the Butte Spay/Neuter Task Force, PO Box 544, Butte, MT 59703 or Albert’s Angel Fund, 699 Centennial, Butte, MT 59701.
Please visit below to offer a condolence or share a memory of Helen. Axelson Funeral and Cremation Services has been privileged to care for Helen and her family.
Read the thoughts and memories, then feel free to add your own.
Jerry & Donna Geney says
Rest in Peace Aunt Helen.
Jennifer and Jeff. So sorry for your loss.
Jerry & Donna
Melanie Clark says
Dear Jeff & Jenny,
I loved your Mom, my Aunt Helen. She was so positive, energetic, determined, independent, strong and would show you she cared by taking whatever action was necessary to get the job done. I loved her laugh, her smile and her spunk!
I remember her driving fast in little cars, zipping around to get to the next job that awaited her. But she always had time for a visit and a cup of coffee,offering her listening ear. She and my Mom were always there for each other. She was a true and reliable friend.
She joins the ranks of those few amazing women of her generation who lived 90 years and who remained faithful , living life fully engaged with those around them. I am keeping you in my prayers. Love, Melanie Clark
I had the pleasure of meeting and even hanging out with your mom at the springs when my mom was there. She was always very entertaining and very kind to my grandchildren. I missed seeing her after my mom passed. My sincere condolences. May she Rest In Peace.
Gerald Allen says
Jennifer and Jeff,
It was my privilege to get to know your mom, first as her lawyer, and then as her friend. I so enjoyed her spirit. Her life was a real adventure. First the Johnstown flood, and then California meeting and marrying a Marine, Homer, then Montana. She loved to tell me about her travels, of which she had no fear to strike out alone. May your many great memories sustain you in your loss.
Arcylle Shaw says
Dear Jenny and Jeff, Remember those many, many years ago when all four of your family stood at the front of the Cardwell Church to dedicate yourselves to Jesus? I have such special memories of all of you. Remember, Jenny, when you gave your hamster to Kelly to take care of for you and it got lost or disappeared. You were so gracious about it. We never did find it. smile
The Jefferson Valley Museum in Whitehall has been the recipient of so many of the Maichel artifacts from your Mom. She was an amazing lady!! Praying that the lives she touched will continue to be blessed. Blessings to each of you, as well. Arcylle Shaw
Lisa Shea says
Memory Eternal to a beautiful lady. I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Helen whole I was marketing director at Marquis Assisted Living – The Springs at Butte. Helen’s love of life was apparent from the moment we met and I had the great pleasure to honor her with a trip to Bozeman to go on a balloon ride with her daughter Jennifer. Helen was interviewed by Wake up MT making it possible for the residents at home to watch this special bucket list item checked off. That day was one of the best of my career at the Springs. Helen was a treasure! I enjoyed visiting with Helen almost daily for a few years. Helen also loved the Halloween parties at the Springs and always had a costume. She would make me laugh and smile.
My deepest condolences Jennifer and Jeff and families.
Helen will forever remain in my heart. ❤️💙
Julie L Bushmaker says
Jeff and Jenny,
I worked along side Helen, when she volunteered at St James for many years. She would entertain us with her stories of her travels, her ranch life and her love for you two. What a honor and pleasure to know her. God speed.
Chiarotti Fabrizio says
Bolzano (Italy) 2021/03/28
solo ora abbiamo avuto notizia della scomparsa dell Signora Helen Lingenfelter Maichel,
anche noi dall’Italia ci uniamo al dolore di Jeff e Jennifer nostri lontani cugini e cari parenti.
Ricordiamo la bella giornata del nostro incontro a Mechel in Trentino con la Signora Hellen e sua figlia Jennifer, dopo che già ci avevano fatto visita il marito Signor Homer e suo figlio Jeff.
un abbraccio pieno di affetto da Alma Micheli, Fabrizio e Antonella Chiarotti
Ricorderemo sempre la Vostra dolcissima MammaChiarotti Fabrizio