Helen J. Knechtges, age 85, of Monona, passed away on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, at her home.

She was born on April 19, 1929, in Monroe, Wis., the daughter of Arthur and Ione (Robert) Beinema. She married William Knechtges on Feb. 9, 1952, in Monroe; together, they had five daughters. Helen was a freshman member of the honor society Sigma Epsilon Sigma and graduated in 1952 from the University of Wisconsin School of Nursing. She worked at UW Hospitals as a staff nurse on the surgical medical floor from 1953 to 1989. Helen was known by her family and friends to be exceptionally kindhearted (“100% sweet”), of dignity and grace, a maker of traditions, and the bedrock of her family. Her quiet strength and infinite kindness inspired others to be more thoughtful and compassionate. Helen was a voracious reader, a history buff, an avid birder and naturalist, a talented gardener, and a loyal supporter of liberal causes. She enjoyed nature walks, baking sweets, her clock collection, talking with friends and family, and her time alone. She loved flowers and springtime. She will be especially missed for her self-effacing humor, her thoughtful conversation, and for the love she showed to those who were lucky enough to know her.

Helen is survived by her daughters, Debra (Peter) Eisch and Laura (Scott) Grove; grandchildren, Erica (Matt) Meyers, Stephanie Eisch, Ben and Anna Grove, Nicholas Terrian, and Nicole and Natalie Lemke; great-grandson, Leopold Meyers; and brother, Robert Beinema.

Helen was preceded in death by her husband; three daughters, Katherine Knechtges, Heidi Lemke and Linda Feger; grandchild, Nathan Lemke; and a brother, Richard Bienema.

Funeral services will be held at GUNDERSON EAST FUNERAL HOME, 5203 Monona Drive, Madison, at 6 p.m., on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. Burial will be held at Blooming Grove Cemetery. Visitation will be held at the funeral home from 4 p.m. until time of the service on Tuesday.

Memorials may be made to Monona Public Library, Nature Conservancy Wisconsin or UW School of Nursing. Online condolences may be made at www.gundersonfh.com.