Vigen Memorial Home obituary – John J. Helwig, 84, Keokuk

John J. Helwig, 84, of Keokuk

John Joseph Helwig went home to be with his LORD, Jesus Christ on Wednesday, June 17, 2020. 

     John was born February 22, 1936 in Grand Rapids, Michigan the son of Harry A. and Roma D. Helwig.  His father died the next year and his mother married Frank (Deac) Freeman.  Roma and Frank had two girls, Romalee and Mary Freeman and moved to Western, IL to be with her family.  John went to the 6, 7 and 8th grade in a one-room school house near his farm home.  During the 6th grade, his mother was his teacher in the one room school house.

     John graduated from Carthage High School with the class of 1954.  He enrolled at Western Illinois University and dropped out his junior year to go on active duty in the Army from the Army Reserve.  When released from active duty, he married his wife Marjorie on March 2, 1958.  He returned to Western and earned a BS in Education.

     He taught math at Keokuk Junior High School for twelve years.  He enrolled at the Ohio State University and earned his Masters and Ph.D.  He was an assistant Professor at SMSU in Springfield, Missouri for three years, then returned to Keokuk Middle School as a special education teacher for eighteen years.  He enjoyed the special relationship with the students he taught and their parents.

     He was active in the Keokuk Jaycees for many years.  He retired from the Army as a MSG (E-8) with thirty-one years of service.  He loved his church, Bel-Air Baptist, and was a member from 1978 until his death. He served in the van ministry, as a teacher, a deacon and other ministries.  John is also a member of the Lee County Gideon’s.

     John is survived by his wife, Marjorie, a daughter, Kimberly (Tony) Murphy, a son, John (Angie) Helwig, six grandchildren, Megan (Grady) Pfahl, Austin Murphy, Jordan Helwig, Aaron Helwig, Madisen Helwig, and John Logan Helwig, and three great grandchildren, Eloise, Oliver and Nora Ann Pfahl.

     He was preceded in death by his parents, Harry, Roma and Deac, two sons, William Joseph Helwig and Paul David Helwig, two sisters, Romalee and Mary.

     Funeral service will be held 1:30 p.m. Monday at the Bel Air Baptist Church in Keokuk with Pastor Mike McMillen officiating.  Burial with military rites will be in the Oakland cemetery in Keokuk.

     Visitation will be held after 1 p.m. Sunday with the family present from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the Vigen Memorial Home in Keokuk.     Social distancing requirements will be in place and attendees will be limited according to those requirements.  Masks are encouraged.            

      Memorials may be made to the Lee County Gideon’s to purchase Bibles.

     Online condolences may be sent to the family at

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