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Judith L. "Judi" Helmer, 52

Judith L. "Judi" Helmer, age 52, of Ellsworth, Wis., passed away peacefully, on Tuesday, March 14, with her loving family by her side.

Judi was born Sept. 22, 1964, in Red Wing, Minn., to Donald and Audrey (Auth) Murphy of Ellsworth. She graduated from Ellsworth High School in 1983, and earned a BA in Education from UW-Eau Claire in 1990.

On Feb. 28, 1987, she was married to Scott Helmer of Ellsworth. The couple have two children, Benjamin (26), married to Stephanie, Duluth, Minn., and Olivia (20), who attends the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Judi taught Business Education at Ellsworth High School from 1991 until the time of her death. During her years at EHS she started and grew the school store at the High School named "The Panther's Den". For many years, under Judi's tutelage, hundreds of EHS students received invaluable real life hands-on experience in working and managing this very successful retail store that helps build school and community pride while pumping money back into the many extra-curricular programs that are promoted through the Den. This EHS school store has become a model that many other school districts throughout Wisconsin have visited and used as a guide to begin their own school store programs.

In 1992, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and courageously fought the disease for 25 years. She endured hundreds of chemo treatments, radiation treatments and surgeries without complaint. Her positive attitude and love for life provided tremendous inspiration for everyone who was fortunate enough to cross her path.

Judi was very passionate about her favorite athletic teams. Her son played on two national championship winning football teams at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and she was a very vocal and proud Bulldog supporter. Her daughter earned her way to the WIAA State Track Meet twice and Judi probably burned up more energy cheering for her than Olivia did participating in her events. Volleyball was a favorite sport of Judi's and, besides playing, she loved cheering for Olivia while she participated in high school, throughout the club season and especially while she played in the NCAA playoffs while at the University of St. Thomas. The Ellsworth Panthers, Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, and Wisconsin Badgers also received her unbridled support.

Judi is survived by her husband, Scott Helmer of Ellsworth; mother, Audrey Ann Murphy of Ellsworth; two children, Benjamin (Stephanie) Helmer of Duluth, and Olivia Helmer of Ellsworth; granddaughter, Madison Judith Helmer; four siblings, Debra Murphy of River Falls, Wis., brother-in-law, Dan Davison of River Falls, Gary (Julie) Murphy of Ellsworth, David (Tammy) Murphy of Prescott, Wis., and Jerome (Barb) Murphy of Ellsworth.

Preceding Judi in death was her father, Donald Murphy; and sister, Dawn Davison.

A public visitation and Celebration of Life for Judi was held from 4-9 p.m. on Sunday, March 19, at the Ellsworth High School Cafetorium, Ellsworth. Mass of Christian Burial for Judi will be 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 25. Visitation will be the same day from 9-11:30 a.m. prior to the service at the Church, with burial at the St. Francis Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers the family is asking that donations be made to the Judi Helmer Memorial Scholarship Fund through the Ellsworth School District Foundation, Bank Mutual, 385 West Main Street, Ellsworth, WI 54011

Hill Funeral Home and Cremation Services will be assisting the family.

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