Drilling, Helen Marie (nee Nelsen)
January 15, 1921 – February 2, 2019
Age 98 of Maplewood. Helen passed into the arms of the Lord on February 2nd surrounded by family. Born January 15, 1921 in Stillwater to Fred and Minnie (Brink) Nelsen. At age 5, they moved to a farm in Lindstrom. Graduating from Chisago Lakes High in 1939, she moved to Minneapolis to attend Business College while living with an aunt. Next door lived a young man, Doug Drilling, with whom she fell in love. Already an athletic young woman who enjoyed the outdoors, Doug taught her to hunt and fish. They were married in Lindstrom in 1946, honeymooning in a tent along the North Shore. Helen worked at Swedish Hospital until the impending birth of their first child. In 1953 they bought a home in Richfield where they raised their three children and lived until 1978. In the mid ’60s Helen returned to work part time at Northwestern Hospital. Helen and Doug lived in White Bear Lake while owning a small business in St Paul for which Helen was the bookkeeper. Retiring in1995 they realized their dream of living on Island Lake near Duluth. The family enjoyed many years of swimming, water skiing, fishing, gardening and snow sports there. Helen is predeceased by her parents, brother Bob, brother Harold (Brinky), daughter Mary Jo Drilling. She is survived by her husband of 72 years, daughter Kathleen (Terry) Chmielewski, son Jim (Judy Pilz), son-in-law John Merrill, 5 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren, sister-in-laws Joe Nelsen and Jackie Nelsen. Our thanks to Allina Hospice and the staff at Ecumen Seasons at Maplewood for their care and support. The Salvation Army was one of Helen’s favorite charities. A private service was held. (Published in the Star Tribune on Feb. 10, 2019).