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Helen Irene (McGray), 96, formerly of Wilmot, SD, died on Monday, September 3, 2018, at Jenkins Living Center in Watertown, SD.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, September 8, 2018, at 2:00 pm at the First Presbyterian Church. Visitation will be held on Saturday, at the church from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Pastor Richard Poppen and Pastor Katie Hatlevig will officiate, and interment will take place in the Wilmot Cemetery.
Helen was born January 21, 1922, in Hankinson, ND, to William and Lulu (Irons) McGray. Following high school graduation in 1940, she worked at the dry cleaners in Hankinson. One day, a young man trailing a string of horses stopped by the family farm seeking water for the horses and a place to bed them down for the night. This encounter led to her marriage on November 8, 1942, to Frank Whipple, Jr. of Wilmot, SD.
The young couple made their home in Brookings, where Jr. was attending SDSC, until the war changed their plans. While Frank was serving in the Army Air Corp, they lived in several states with Helen returning home while he flew troop transport in South America. They returned to the Whipple Ranch in 1945, and began raising a family.
For several years, she and Jr. were youth leaders for the Presbyterian youth at Wilderness Tarp Camping.
Helen’s most recent employment included 21 years at the Wilmot Care Center as a CNA; several years as a Hospice volunteer in the community; nine years as a hostess at the Wilmot Rest Area; and nine years of house sitting for Berniece Smith in Watertown. The couple also wintered several years in Arizona and California, and spent several summers being Hosts at State Parks.
In 2003, Helen moved to Watertown, and in 2016, she moved to the Jenkins Living Center where she remained until her death.
Left to cherish her memory are four children: Bill (Diana) Whipple of Wilmot, SD; Sheila (Dave) Mathison of Canton, SD; Dan (Judy) Whipple of Coon Rapids, MN; and Susan (Larry) Hulsey of Albany, TX; nine grandchildren: Robert (Heather) Whipple; Heather (Welin) Castillo; Reid Mathison; Charles (Jean) Mathison; Robin Mathison; Chad (Ruth) Whipple; Andrea (Art) Carter; Daniel (Steph) Whipple; and Katie (Trent) Hatlevig; 16 great-grandchildren: Gavin Whipple; Lillian Castillo; Megan, Stephannie, Taylor and Amanda Mathison; Bela, Piper, AJ and TJ Whipple; Lydia, Elaina, Amy and Emily Carter; and Afton and Hattie Whipple; and many nieces and nephews.
Preceding her in death is her husband, Frank Jr., on April 11, 1993; her parents William and Lulu McGray; siblings: Harold McGray and Inez Sha; infant grandson, Baby Carter; and nephew, Robert McGray.