Helen Mary McKillop was born in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 7, 1917, daughter of Stella Mary (Biggs) and Timothy Joseph McKillop. She passed away on Oct. 9, 2011, surrounded by friends and her daughter Pamela. She had two brothers, Darrell Gordon and Charles Arthur; and a sister, Rosealia who predeceased her. She is survived by a sister, Ruth Lorene Church. Helen graduated from Otter Creek High School in 1936. When World War II broke out, she took the Civil Service exam and chose to take a job in Dayton, Ohio to be closer to Terre Haute. In July of 1942 she met Willard Eugene Swenson at the Christian Science Church in Dayton. Willard was an officer in the Army Air Corps stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. They married on Aug. 28, 1942, after a brief courtship. Their first child Linda Kay arrived on Sept. 15, 1943 (William Mitchell). Pamela Jane was born on Jan. 28, 1947. Willard Jr. (Jane) followed on June 25, 1950.
In 1953 Willard was promoted to Chrysler Headquarters in Highland Park, Mich. The family moved to Grosse Pointe Woods. Helen tended to her family until she took a job with University-Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods, eventually becoming the secretary to the Headmaster of the Upper School. She enjoyed her 19 years of service making many new friends and acquaintances and the student interaction each day. Attending many student theatrical productions was one of her favorite pleasures.
The family welcomed their first grandson on Dec. 29, 1965. Michael John (Krista) was followed by Brian John Roberts in 1973 (Michelle), Sean Timothy Roberts in 1978 (Jill), Anne Elise Swenson in 1980, Ellen Elizabeth Swenson in 1983 (Phil) and their youngest grandson David Arthur Swenson in 1985. She was a happy and proud grandmother. Recently three great-grandsons, Joseph Jonathan Hall, Jackson Michael Hall, and Tyler Jay Roberts joined the family.
After losing her husband of 62 years in 2004, Helen continued to live in Newcastle attending the Grosse Pointe Farms Christian Science Church, playing cards with the Grosse Pointe Woods Seniors, reading avidly and enjoying her children and grandchildren. She loved cooking and sharing meals with family and friends. Over the years she helped many family members, offering her home and welcoming the opportunity. In April of this year she moved to Shore Pointe Village in St. Clair Shore to experience assisted living. Later she moved to Sunrise on Vernier where she received loving care from all of the caregivers and hospice.
A memorial service will be at A. H. Peters Funeral Home in Grosse Pointe Woods. She leaves a huge hole in our hearts, but is now reunited with God and her husband Willard Sr. Burial will be at Roselawn Memorial Park in Terre Haute.