Helen Judd, 92

Published 2:35 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Helen Judd, 92

Helen Elgie Judd, 92, of Austin, Minnesota, passed away at St. Mark’s Lutheran Home on Wednesday, January 31, 2024, after having a stroke two days prior.

Helen was born March 19, 1931 (her father’s birthday) in Austin, only child of James “Jamie” Robert and Elgie Jane (Branum) Dearmin. She was named after Jamie’s sister who died in the 1918 flu epidemic. Their family lived in a single room home named the “bee house” on her paternal grandparent’s farm in Moscow Township until age 3, when they moved to Austin. Their home on the Dearmin farm was modest with no electricity or running water. Her Dearmin/Lowry ancestors were territorial pioneers in the Moscow area, and the Branum family had lived in the Austin/Lansing area since the late nineteenth century. Her ancestors included Rev. Samuel G. Lowry, founding pastor of the current day Westminster Presbyterian Church. Helen enjoyed reminiscing about buggy rides to the neighboring farms and Moscow creamery with her Grandma Lucy Dearmin, and winter sleigh rides with Grandpa Howard Dearmin. She enjoyed trips to visit Grandma Iva Branum in Little Falls and later St. Paul, and the many Branum aunts and uncles, especially Aunt Mary who was only five years older. Helen would talk about going with Aunt Mary to see Abbot and Costello at the Austin bandshell. Helen had vivid memories of WWII and her five Branum uncles serving in the military throughout the world.

Helen attended a one room school Burr Oak, then Whittier School. She attended Austin High School starting in sixth grade through graduation in 1949. In high school she faced the decision of taking either sewing or band. She gladly took up the clarinet under the direction of “Pop” Speratti, and thoroughly enjoyed being in the Packers Marching Band.

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Helen married Leonard Leo Bierlen on August 7, 1949, at Central Presbyterian Church in Austin. She became a farmer’s wife overnight, learning to drive a John Deere tractor, and delivering calves and piglets. They happily added to their family, including Ralph’s back seat birth. They resided on the Bierlen family farm in London, MN, until Leonard’s tragic death on February 11, 1957, near Clinton, IA. At the time, they had children Roger, Linda, Ralph, Diana, and Michael on the way. The family then relocated to NW Austin; a neighborhood known to locals as Skunk Hollow (present day Sherman Park).

Helen remarried to Wayne William Judd on June 6, 1964, in Albert Lea. Wayne brought with him children Tom, Karen, and Randy, and together they had son Dan. Helen cheered Wayne on during many years of softball tournaments, they enjoyed Minnesota Twins games, regular trips Up North and to Wyoming. Helen, Wayne, and Dan moved to the Sumner area in 1980 where Helen remained until 2016. Wayne preceded Helen in death on December 3, 2000, in Austin.

Helen joined the Church of Christ in 1957 and was a charter member of the NW Church of Christ. She was involved in church activities including choir and serving as a Sunday School teacher. She volunteered with the American Red Cross bloodmobiles for 15+ years. Helen nurtured her friendships, with the London birthday club, class of ’49 lunches/gatherings, and walking with friends well into her 80s.

Helen loved a good book and read everything from Agatha Christie to J.K. Rowling. She was a pet lover and shared fond memories of dogs Scottie, Snoopy, and Shannon. She enjoyed making chocolate chip cookies for her family and Christmas caramel corn. Helen never turned down M&M’s. She took great delight in cheering on her family’s activities from music to sports.

Helen was preceded in death by her mother Elgie (1996), stepfather Art Nelson (1984), father Jamie (1983), stepmother Alice Dearmin (1990), son Michael Bierlen (2022), grandson Ryan Bierlen (1998), fathers-in-law Fred Bierlen (1963) and Leonard Judd (1975), mothers-in-law Rosemond Botts Bierlen (1989) and Lillian Gulbrandson Judd (1999), brothers and sisters-in-law Marjorie (Bierlen) and Adrian Watney, Viola (Bierlen) and Lorenz Lorenzen, Ralph Bierlen, Betty (Bierlen) and Burnett “Bud” Johnson, Keith and Dolores “Pete” Judd, Hildegard (James) Judd, Duane Judd, Mary Ann Judd Ruffins and John Ruffins, nephews Dean Johnson, Wade Judd, Mark Oakland, Jim Judd, Rich Anderson, and Kermit Watney, and niece Colleen Judd.

Helen is survived by children Roger (Denise) Bierlen of Kasson; Linda (Adam) Weiss of Okatie, SC; Tom (Pat) Judd of Sheridan, WY; Karen (Doug) Kelly of Austin; Ralph (Margarita) Bierlen of Iowa City; Randy (Teresa) Judd of Austin; Diana Bierlen of Austin; Dan (Janine Tea) Judd, Shoreview.

She is also survived by grandchildren Trevor (Wendy) Milner of Corvallis, MT and their child Laycee; Robin (Steve) King of Comfort, NC and their children Jacob, Bryan, and Bradley; Matt (Stacy Schneider) Judd of Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia and their children Carew, Brooks, Walker, and Crosby; Jamie Bierlen of Waseca and his children Brooklyn and Ryan; Kyle (Heidi) Kelly of Andover and their children Oliver and Alice; Jarod (Sydney) Judd of Sheridan, WY and their child Sawyer; John Judd of Rapid City; Elizabeth (Heather) Judd Foster of Austin and their child Karver; Tiffany (Dan Johnson) Bierlen of Byron and their children Kinslei, Jaxx, and Thea; David Judd of Minneapolis; Amy (Ray) Kelly Bissen of Owatonna and their children Zach, Averi, Isaac, and Lauren; Metzere (Michael Gallagher) Bierlein of San Diego; Gabby Bierlein of Iowa City; Madison (Mitchell) Weiss Carr of New York City; Daniel Judd, Shoreview.

Additional survivors include brothers-in-law James Judd of St. Paul, Michael Judd of Austin; sisters-in-law Barbara (Ron) Huffman, Austin, and Maggie Judd, Albert Lea. Also, many other relatives and friends.

Helen resided at St. Mark’s since December 2016. The family expresses their sincere gratitude for the compassion and support provided by St. Mark’s staff. Special thanks go to Sally Hardy who always kept watch over “Mama Helen”.

A memorial service and reception will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday, March 16th at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center – Rudy Rupner Auditorium, 1304 21st Street NE, Austin, with Pastor Randy Hardy officiating. Helen’s favorite color was lilac/light purple – attendees are invited to wear this color in her memory. Internment of cremated remains will be at a future date in Calvary Cemetery as Helen bequeathed her body to the Mayo Clinic.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the American Red Cross, your local public library, Paramount Theater, or the charity of your choice.

“To love another person is to see the face of God” – Victor Hugo