McFarland- Helen Umber of McFarland, Wisconsin passed away peacefully at home of natural causes on December 8, 2017.
Helen was born in Newark NJ in 1923 and lived in Union, NJ for 31 years. She was an Arthur Murray dance instructor and worked as a secretary at the Elizabeth Daily Journal where she met her future husband, Franklyn Umber. In 1954 they were married and soon moved to Mountainside, NJ. In 1960 they had a daughter, Robin.
Helen went to college in 1968 to be a teacher of young children with the support of Frank, Robin and the Gunn family who helped look after Robin by becoming a second home for her after school. She taught in a Montessori preschool for several years, then became a secretary for Best Foods until she retired to care for Franklyn who had a series of strokes over two years and passed away in 1987.
Then she volunteered at nursing homes in the area and an adult daycare program. She created and performed programs on many topics that included sharing information, poems, stories, and lots of music, which she played on a keyboard or ukulele as she sang. After 10 more years in Mountainside, she joined her daughter in Madison, WI and went with Robin as her jobs took her to Brockport, NY, Eau Claire, Wi and finally to McFarland, WI.
When Helen's macular degeneration, and later dementia and arthritis prevented her from volunteering to present musical programs at care facilities, she still created them and did them for friends. In her later years, Helen shared songs she had written over the years with her friends. One that reflects her love of family and friends is I Have Known Love copyright Helen Umber 2006:
I have known sorrow and I have known grief.
And I know what it means to be afraid to go to sleep.
Yet, I can say, life has been good to me because,
Because I have known love.
The love of my life, who is always there for me.
The love of a friend to give me strength and sympathy.
And the love of a child, who just by her "Hello"
Can set my heart afire and help my troubles go.
Yes, I have known sorrow and I have known grief.
And I know what it is to be afraid to go to sleep.
And yet I can say life has been good to me,
Because, because I have known love.
Helen is preceded in death by her parents Albert Joachim Werle and Cecilia Werle (Braun), her husband Franklyn Louis Umber, and many dear friends, including, Tom Gunn and Donald Oberding of NJ, Beatrice Olson of WI, and our most recent angel, Emily Prin of MN. She is survived by her daughter Robin Umber and many dear friends who became family over the years including the Prins, Hagmuellers, Gunns, Tourangeaus, Oberdings, the Olsons -"the gang"- as Helen called their extended family, members of the Circle, PSG, and Earth Tradition tribes and too many more to list here but you know who you are. All of you filled her life with laughter, support and love. Helen loved sharing her songs with you and listening to your ideas and experiences. When asked her religion, she once said, "I'm just a good person." And she was.
Helen did not want a traditional funeral. A burial of her ashes will take place in New Jersey in June on a day yet to be determined. Memorials may be made in Helen's name to Agrace HospiceCare Inc. in Madison WI - https://www.agrace.org or the Macular Degeneration Foundation - https://www.macular.org.
Please share your memories of Helen at: www.CressFuneralService.com.
Cress Funeral Service
5801 Highway 51
McFarland, WI 53558