Helen Arlene Arnold, 95, died peacefully on March 12, 2020. She was the fifth and youngest child of Frederick and Agnes (Korsmo) Schmelzkopf, born November 1, 1924 in Madison, Wisconsin. After living almost all of her life in the Madison area, Helen and her husband Ralph moved to Helena, Montana in 2009 to be close to their son, James, and his family.
Helen grew up during the Great Depression, an event that never truly left her. She graduated from Madison Central High School in 1942 and, thanks to the war effort, was then able to work two jobs to help out at home. In 1948, Helen met Ralph Arnold on a blind date. That was the start to a beautiful romance. Ralph was a WWII vet and, thanks to the GI Bill, a recent graduate of the Law School at the University of Wisconsin.
Helen and Ralph moved to Waunakee in the early 1950s because they found a house they could afford to buy. By 1956, her daughter, Barbara, was old enough to go to kindergarten. When Helen found out that the Waunakee Elementary School District did not have a kindergarten, she ran for the school board and made sure her son was able to attend. Helen served as treasurer of the Waunakee elementary school board for six years, giving up her seat when the elementary and high school districts merged in the mid-1960s.
You have free articles remaining.
After moving to Waunakee, Helen became the quintessential stay-at-home mom. She frequently said she would be wealthy if she got a nickel for every chocolate chip cookie she baked during those years. Helen always had a way of making those around her feel welcomed and valued. Everyone who knew her wanted some of her famous Christmas fudge, a recipe that has been handed down in the family, but no one can quite duplicate the result. She never gave up her interest in a brandy manhattan made the way Ralph made it.
In her heart, Madison was always home. In 1987, Ralph and Helen returned to live in Madison and stayed until they moved to Montana. No matter how close she was to her family or how beautiful the landscape in Helena, Helen always talked about returning to Madison, her hometown. Her remains will be buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, Madison, close to many of her relatives.
There will be a celebration of Helen’s life limited to her family. She is survived by her husband of almost 70 years, Ralph Arnold, her daughter Barbara and her husband Paul Turley, her son, James, his wife Erin and their children Chad, Piper and Forrest as well as Paul’s children David and Leanne, and many nieces and nephews. Her brothers Philip, Frederick (Fritz) and Robert and her sister Evelyn preceded her in death.
The family thanks the wonderful staff at Touchmark as well as St. Peter’s Hospice who gave Helen such good care over the last several years. If you wish to make a donation in Helen’s honor, the family suggests donating to the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute at the University of Wisconsin, http://www.wai.wisc.edu/give/give.html, as they seek to find ways to prevent and cure this horrific disease which touches so many.
Sign up to get the most recent local obituaries delievered to your inbox.