Alvar Andrew Helmes
July 6, 2023
BATTLE GROUND, Wash. - Alvar Andrew Helmes, 95, passed away at his home in Battle Ground on June 11, 2023, surrounded by loved ones. His sincere love and thoughtful manner will be missed by all.
The youngest of August and Maria Helmes' 11 children, Alvar was born on May 27, 1928, in Iron Belt, Wisconsin. His father passed away when Alvar was almost 6 years old. He lived through the Great Depression and was raised by his mother in Iron Belt and Ironwood, Michigan, graduating from Luther L. Wright High School in 1946. His yearbook inscription reads, "A modest man never talks of himself." After high school he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served three years, stationed in Italy during the aftermath of World War II.
His first job after the Army was at a pharmacy and soda shop in Ironwood, where he met his future wife, Nancy (Hannu), on the first day of work. They were married a little over a year later on Dec. 27, 1950, and were blessed with eight children. The family lived in Michigan for 11 years, Minnesota for 26 years, and eventually moved to Battle Ground in 1987.
In his early career paths, Alvar studied music, owned a food truck catering business, and was an industrial graphic artist. He found his preferred career field in technical publications, and spent 25 years as a writer and writing supervisor for Honeywell. After retirement, Alvar and Nancy fulfilled a dream of starting a business with their family: New Tradition Homes.
Alvar used his God-given talents to serve in many ways. For the Apostolic Lutheran Church, he was editor of the Christian Monthly publication for 20 years, manager of the Book Concern for seven years, a member and chairman of the Foreign Mission Board for eight years, and a charter board member of Firm Foundation Christian School. During these years, he was also instrumental in the publication of hymnals, songbooks, Sunday School books, a foreign mission newsletter, and other various publications.
Over time, Alvar's interest in the foreign mission field grew, and he had many Christian writings translated into dozens of languages and distributed to various countries around the world, including Africa, Guatemala, Russia and India. During a mission trip to India in 1998, he met Dr. K. Syam Kumar and together they established a free medical clinic which eventually grew into a mission hospital. He also started a non-profit, Mission and Welfare International, to help raise funds for the mission field.
He quietly demonstrated his Christian faith by his life, his concern for others, his kindness and generosity, and his dedication to whatever he set his mind to. He enjoyed working, gardening, playing piano, coffee time with Nancy, being together with family, and game nights with the grandkids.
Alvar is survived by his children, Greg (Carmelle) Helmes, Gail (Richard) Urban, Chris Helmes, Kirk Helmes, Ken (Marianne) Helmes, Kelly (Rebecca) Helmes, Kim (Donald) Matson and Cara Helmes; along with 44 grandchildren, 79 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Nancy; his siblings, Edward Helmes, Tyyne Hendrickson, Toini Saari, Toivo Helmes, Taimi Anderson, Aino Lehocky, Ahti Helmes, Ruth Hendrickson, Norman Helmes and Lillian Anderson; and his great-grandchildren: Sienna and Grace Urban, and Keaton Traffie.
A funeral service was held on Sunday, June 18, at the Apostolic Lutheran Church in Hockinson, Washington, followed by committal at Lewisville Cemetery in Battle Ground.
Any donations made in Alvar Helmes' memory may be directed to Firm Foundation Christian School, 1919 SW 25th Ave., Battle Ground, WA 98604, and/or Mission and Welfare International, P.O. Box 1135, Battle Ground, WA 98604.
"By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: It is a gift of God." Ephesians 2:8