Helen Mae O’Donnell

Resided in Escanaba, Michigan
Died July 24th, 2018

Helen Mae O’Donnell, 95 of Escanaba, passed away early Tuesday morning July 24, 2018 at Pinecrest Medical Facility in Powers.

Helen was born on Christmas Eve 1922, daughter of Rudolph and Mary (Cmelja) Vetrovec. The family spent a few years in Chicago when Helen was young and again as a young adult but her heart was always being back in Perronville on the family farm.

She worked at Schoen’s Mink Ranch and the TB Sanitarium in Powers where she met life-long friends Eileen Boerschinger and Gerry Kluz.

On September 3, 1955, Helen married Robert O’Donnell at St. Patrick’s Church in Escanaba. He preceded her in death on April 1, 1987.

She enjoyed writing letters to her cousins and friends. She loved tending her garden with neighbors Ruth and Richard Arkens, canning vegetables and fruits, baking, visits with beloved nephew Richard and his wife Karen, making wreaths, sewing clothes, talking on the phone, taking long rides with Ann Anger (the Duck), being in nature with the animals and birds. For many years she looked forward to entering vegetables, flowers, canned and baked goods at the U.P. State Fair where she earned many awards. But most of all she cherished spending time with her grandson Bobby, together they were a team of love, adventures and sometimes mischief. She and her friend Eileen enjoyed sitting in the car watching Bobby and Eileen’s grandson Jonathan Pepin race. She was a fan of music and loved singing silly songs.

Helen had a special saying “I Love you a bushel and a peck”. She said it often and meant every word. She learned at an early age to enjoy people and that she did!

She was a member of the Dart ball League at Bethany Lutheran Church for many years.

Among survivors are her daughter, Kathy (Steve Sr.) Rose, grandson, Bobby Rose; special niece, Karen Vetrovec; step grandchildren, Steve (Crystal) Rose Jr, Laurie Krouth (Rick), Sarah (Karl) Kleiman, Scot (Reyna) Rose and their 18 great grandchildren and 10 great, great grandchildren; cousins, Laurel (Mike) Stephens, David (Judy) Cmejla,  Russ (Donna) Cmejla, Pat (Lorne) Ruzicka; and many O’Donnell nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents and husband; siblings, Miles Cerny and Eddie Vetrovec; sister in law, Anne Vetrovec; nephew, Richard Vetrovec; aunt and uncle, Doris and Russ Cmejla and cousin, Myra Holmi.

The family would like to thank the staff of Perspectives, Pinecrest and UPCAP staff, especially Tonya Reynolds and Charlene Hansen, along with her caregivers, Cathy and Danielle Winling, Barb Johnson, Debbie and Alexis Baker and Myrna Hughes.

The visitation will be held on Wednesday, August 1, 2018 at the Crawford Funeral Home, 302 South 13th Street, Escanaba, from 2-5 p.m. The funeral service will follow at 5 p.m. with Rev. Eric Olson officiating.

Burial will take place in Gardens of Rest Cemetery.

A message of condolence may be directed to the family by visiting

The Crawford Funeral Homes are assisting the O’Donnell family.


7 Tributes to “Helen Mae O’Donnell”

  1. I will never forget my Helen, so glad shes resting easy but one of few people I cared for that I’ve shed tears for. I’ll never forget her blind driving, her “I’m chuck full!” She would say when she was done eating. Forever my heart is fuller after knowing her. Kathy, you are the most amazing daughter she could have ever asked for, never forget that. Rest easy Helen. 💕

  2. Dear Kathy, Steve & Bobby,
    Your in our thoughts and prayers. Your Mother was a special lady and friend to all. Enjoyed her great sense of humor and kindness. How we enjoyed the visits with your parents and them showing us the hunting camp with many interesting stories attached. Cherish the many memories. They are something no one can take away. With sympathy and love,
    Your SD cousins, Lorne & Pat Ruzicka

  3. Never forget July 1999 Rich (Helens Beloved Nephew RIP June 2018) phoned me after our engagement party. “Auntie called there is a house for sale next door to her”. On our honey moon trip around Lake Michigan with a purposeful stop in Escanaba, looked at the house in August and bought it ! Small cape cod, 1509 2nd Ave South 🙂 .So many good memories Kathy of all of you there for 10+ years our summer home with Auntie, singing, crafting, going to Jim’s Dairy Kream for Ice Cream, Ludding Park for summer concerts, rides to see the dear which she loved. Thanksgiving meals. You always stopping by so check on “Mama” next door.My sympathies to you, Bobby and Steven now for your loss. Love, Your Sunshine,Karen(RIP, Rich).

  4. Kathy, just read that your mother died, and wanted you to know how sorry I was to hear of your loss! I remember how you cared for her both physically and emotionally. She couldn’t have asked for a better daughter. Will say a special prayer for her today at mass.

  5. Many memories of the “camp” and grand times of good conversation. I will always remember her genuine sincerity and neverending great nature which was always shining. And “Bucky” will be the trigger for the memories. A fine life lived by a wonderful lady.

  6. I’ll always remember the great times at “camp” and good conversation. A grand lady who lived a good life. Her genuine sincerity always shined bright. “Bucky” will be one of the triggers for the many wonderful memories. She was a marvelous soul.
    Rest well.

  7. Dear Kathy, Steve, & Family,
    So sorry to hear of Helen’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. So many fond memories of Helen and her smile, teachings, and rides with Milo in the old army jeep on the property in Perronville. I remember her and our Mom and Dad telling stories and them laughing so hard, there were tears rolling down their faces. She was a special lady!

    Wish I could be there today, but am helping out Kurt’s Dad, who is 90 years young.
    Kind thoughts and prayers are with all of you,
    Loren & Janet Potter Girls-Donna, Linda, Laura, and Diane
    Donna Wiiliams

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