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Helen E. Vala

February 14, 1930 September 29, 2019
Helen E. Vala
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Obituary for Helen E. Vala

Helen E. Vala of Rochester Hills died peacefully September 29, 2019. She was 89 years old. Helen (also lovingly known as “Toots” and “Tootsie”) was born in Detroit, Michigan on February 14, 1930 to Margaret and Julius Popp. She grew up in Highland Park and graduated from Pershing High School in 1948. An accomplished student, she graduated from the Detroit Business Institute in 1950. She then went on to work as a secretary at Greyhound.

In 1953, she married the love of her life, John Vala, and by 1961, they had 6 children! They settled on the East side of Detroit and lived there until 1976 when they moved to Rochester Hills. Helen was a stay at home mom until later returning to work as secretary to the head of Adult Education at the Detroit Board of Education, Rochester Schools Adult Education and finishing out her career as the school secretary at Longmeadow Elementary School. In addition to her business and secretarial skills, Helen was an accomplished classical pianist, artist, cook, baker, seamstress, crocheter, embroiderer, writer and voracious reader. She possessed a keen mind and loved playing games like Scrabble and dominoes as well as testing herself with crossword puzzles, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! An amazing wife and mother, her proudest accomplishment was her family. She was a remarkable yet modest woman. She was a perfectionist who set the bar high, yet she never did any of it to impress. It was just who she was.

Helen had a fear of heights, but little else. She was always willing to try new things and always encouraged her children to do the same! She loved to travel but with 6 children it was difficult, so together with her husband she created her beloved summer home in northern Michigan on Mullet Lake’s Grandview Beach. Although she had to put her travel dreams on hold until they were grown, she later more than made up for it travelling extensively in Europe… even travelling to St. Petersburg, while managing to chronicle it all in her detailed and extensive travel journals. Helen could always be counted on for help, a wise word or a kick in the pants if needed.

With Helen, there was always room at the table for another (or others) - those in need of a warm meal and family were always welcome. Besides her beautiful smile, Helen will always be remembered for her kindness, her strength, her faith, her graciousness, her wisdom, her generosity, her sense of humor and her love.

Helen is survived by her children, Marilyn (Doug McConnell), Laurie (Bill Holcomb), Claudia (Tom Young), John (Sandra), Susan (Bengt Hagstrom), and Bob (Ann). She is also survived by her grandchildren, Tara (Joe), Brooke (Tony), Ariel (Curtis), Justin (Betsy), Kaylin (Johan), Alexandra, Monica (Justin), Elisabeth, Abigail (James), Lauren (John-Talyor), Madeleine, Kiersten, Adrienne, Anna, Marcus, John, and Robert and great-grandchildren, Anthony, Ilona, Hazel, Jaylin, Axel, Briley, Astrid, and Kellan. Helen is preceded in death by her beloved husband, John Vala and grandchildren, Grace and John Emmett.

A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Mercy Bellbrook, 873 W. Avon Road, Rochester Hills, Friday October 25th at 11am. Friends may visit beginning at 10am. Burial will be in Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly.

Memorials appreciated to the Autism Alliance of Michigan, 30100 Telegraph Road, Bingham Farms, Michigan 48025.

Memorial Contribution

Autism Alliance of Michigan

To make a donation online, click the link above to visit the Autism Alliance of Michigan website.

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