Helen Krueger, 85

Norma “Helen” Krueger, age 85, born in Wolfe County, Ky., and long-time resident of Sturgis, passed away peacefully in her sleep Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, at Sue’s Loving Care in Kalamazoo.
Born on March 23, 1935, the youngest and last living of nine children to the late Edd and Dovie (Proffitt) Carroll, Helen lived in Kentucky into young adulthood, then moved to Michigan.
As a young girl in rural Kentucky, Helen had a passion for fashion, makeup and movie stars – her favorite was Betty Grable. Because her family was poor, she began sewing alongside her mom at age 8 and by age 11 had made a name for herself in her community as a seamstress for hire. Helen could sew anything – no pattern necessary.
Throughout her life, what most people knew about Helen was that she could sew. She could whip up costumes for plays and dance recitals and all kinds of clothes, including wedding dresses, from just a picture. She also shared her talent by teaching sewing classes during the evening at Sturgis High School.
Not many people understood how her eye for detail went beyond clothing and created a life above her humble upbringing. Some of her achievements include managing a high production sewing line at Dr. Denton’s Sleeping Garments in Centreville and Fur Coat Designer at Angelo’s Furs in Three Rivers. She also designed the drapery and led production for J C Penney showrooms. In addition to drapery, she made a name for herself as possibly the only woman in research and design in the male-dominated RV and conversion van industry. Helen’s design and color choices were used in countless Coachmen RV’s and travel trailers. She was a partner in The Knight Company, designing and selling seats to dealers across the country for several years. She was well-known enough in her field that Ford brought her to Detroit as an interior-design consultant when the company launched the 50th Anniversary Thunderbird.
In addition to building a solid career, Helen was a good wife, mother, a true friend, and a Christian. She was fun, had a fantastic and sometimes sarcastic sense of humor, knew how to make others laugh and had a knack for great storytelling. She was tough, especially on her girls, but she also had a tender heart and wanted to help everyone be their best. She was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Sturgis, sang for many years in Sweet Adelines and started her own Red Hat chapter, bringing together more than 60 area women for fun activities, including a luncheon and show at Sturges-Young Auditorium.
Surviving, are her three daughters, Jennifer (Phil) Frohriep of Blanchester, Ohio, Stephanie (John) Beyer of Holland and Carroll Graham of Littleton, Colo., along with her step-daughters Jill (Matthew) Wagner of Omaha, Neb., and Tracy (Matthew) Day of Paw Paw, as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The family will receive friends from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22 at Hackman Chapel of Hackman Family Funeral Home, 114 S. Nottawa St., Sturgis. Service will be officiated by the Rev. Calvin Kolzow at Trinity Lutheran Church, 406 S. Lakeview St., Sturgis, at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 23. Due to conditions with the COVID-19 pandemic, limitations of people inside the funeral will be followed and masks are required at all events. Final internment will be at Oak Lawn Cemetery in Sturgis.
In lieu of flowers, memorials in Helen’s name may be directed to Sue’s Loving Care, 2827 Courtlandt Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49004, which provided the most loving and attentive care to Helen in her final months;┬áDementia Society of America, PO Box 600, Doylestown, PA 18901; or at┬áDementiaSociety.org, to further research to this incurable disease.

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