Helen Skaar Spaulding – Pioneer of Bemidji

Helen was born May 27, 1925 in Crookston, MN to Lloyd Milton Swisdal and Ruth Lillith Stay. She was delivered at her grandmother’s house by a doctor. Helen lived and attended schools in the following areas, Calumet, Minnesota Kindergarten, Seattle, Washington, Grade 1 Crookston, Minnesota Grade 2 through Grade 9 Bemidji, Minnesota Grade 10 through Grade 12 where she graduated from high school in 1943, Hibbing, Minnesota where she attended Junior College. Helen graduated from Moorhead State Teachers College on August 15, 1947 with a BA in Art and History. At the time she attended MSTC, student enrollment was predominantly female, due to the war and the facilities consisted of 2 connected buildings.

Helen and Gordon Skaar were married on August 27, 1948 in Moorhead, Minnesota. Four children were born into this family: Vicki, Bob, Tom and Gordy. The family lived in various towns in Michigan and Minnesota. They moved to Bemidji in 1972, where they established the Skaar Distributing Company. While in Bemidji, they belonged to First Presbyterian Church, Bemidji Town and Country Club, and donated or pledged to numerous building projects at the church and North Country Hospital. They made a donation to establish a maternity waiting room at the hospital. They founded the Skaar Pabst Golf Tournament to provide scholarships for athletes at Bemidji State University. This tournament lasted 45 years and is still ongoing. Gordon died in 1992 and the tournament is now called the Gordy Skaar Memorial Tournament. The couple enjoyed traveling and playing golf in retirement.

Helen married Buster (Willis J. Spaulding) on ​​July 26, 1995 in Crookston, MN. They took up residence in Bemidji. Buster was the owner of Spaulding Motors. They were members of the Bemidji Town and Country Club and actively enjoyed and supported the community and BSU Arts. They donated through pledges and donations to North Country Hospital and a piano room in the music department of Bemidji State University. Helen supported Minnesota State University, Moorhead and the Arts Department. They made many trips to Europe and the United States, where they met many interesting people. They particularly enjoyed the trips and cruises sponsored by the state of Bemidji.

In 1946, Helen was Queen of the Northwest Water Carnival in Detroit Lakes, MN. She then participated in the Minneapolis Aquatennial Pageant where she was a finalist. Helen has taught art at public schools in Fargo, Lansing and Edina. She taught art and history at Bemidji College and retired in 1980. She enjoyed playing golf and bridge, the arts, teaching school and caring for her family.

Helen belonged to the Hospital Auxiliary, PEO and Bemidji Presbyterian Church. Her involvement in the Church included elders secretary, new pastor search committee, and president of the Corinthian Circle.

Helen is survived by her children: Vicki (Tom) Johnson of Detroit Lakes, MN, Robert (Teresa) Skaar of Sun City, Arizona and Bemidji, Thomas (Suzan) Skaar of Cheyenne, Wyoming and Bemidji, Gordon (Jennifer) Skaar of Coleraine, MN. Grandchildren TJ (Pam) Johnson, Tina (Mark) Wilwant, Alison (Derek) Hanson, Angie (Adam) Rackow, Jeannie Skaar, Robbie (Alisa) Skaar, Broc Skaar, Torey (Miguel) Park, Ben (Kylie) Skaar , Evan Skaar, Sam Skaar, Gordon Skaar and Merrith Skaar. Several great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

Buster’s children; Margaret (Tim) Hins of Bemidji, Greg (Nicole) Spaulding of Thief River Falls, Susan Decker of Marshfield, WI, Rebecca Andre of St. Bonifacious, MN, Mike (Sue) Spaulding of Bemidji, MN, Jennifer (Scott) Heikkinen of Naperville, IL and Susan Spaulding of Tacoma, WA. Grandchildren Nicole Schueppert (Tom), Angela (Justin) Raab, Lynsi Kaskubar (Andy), Trevor Hins (Megan), Mari Hins (Kyle), Alex Kim-Beck (Dave), Amanda Felt (Caleb), Christopher Heikkinen ( Lauren), Alexa Heikklinen, AJ Spaulding (Casey), Nicholas Andre, Jonathan Heikkinen (Vivianne), Cierra Reed (Simon), Rory Kuhn (Je’Nai), Nachele Kolden (Ryan), Benjamin Olson (Kendra), and Nicholas Olson. Several great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Sister-in-law Donna Skaar of Tuscon, AZ.

Helen was predeceased by her father, Lloyd Swisdal, her mother, Ruth Stay, her brother, Robert Swisdal, her husband Gordon Skaar and her husband Buster Spaulding, her brother-in-law Marvin Skaar and her sister-in-law Gerri Lindell.

A private family service will be held.

It’s not goodbye, it’s just until we meet again. We love you and will miss you so much.

About Jefferey G. Cannon

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