On May 29, 1924, a small Iowa farm family near Fort Dodge, Iowa was blessed with the birth of Helen Virginia Carlson (Stearns). Almost 93 years later, Helen’s remaining earthy family mourned their loss when she peacefully passed from here into glory on April 20, 2017 at the Kavanaugh Hospice care home in Des Moines, Iowa.
After graduating from Fort Dodge High in 1941, she entered and later graduated from Iowa Lutheran, where she earned her Registered Nursing degree. She served those who served our nation at Jefferson Barracks V.A. hospital in St. Louis, then did the same for over 20 years at the V.A. hospital in Des Moines. Later she combined her passion for nursing and her love for children while working at the Des Moines Pediatric clinic on Beaver and Hickman.
While beginning her nursing career in Des Moines, she met a handsome young army veteran who asked her to dance and never let go of her hand. She and Bill Stearns said “I do” on May 22, 1949, a vow they never broke. In the years that followed, they knew the joys and trials of raising 5 sons – Scott, Brent, Brion, Mark and Gregg; and the pain of losing one daughter in childbirth, Suzanne.
Healing and hospitality sum up Helen’s life. As a nurse, the Lord used her to physically help heal everyone from infants to aging veterans. As a mother of five boys, she helped heal skinned knees, broken bones, and even some broken hearts. All who knew her, knew that Helen practiced genuine hospitality. Her door was never closed to friend or stranger, and there was always room at the table to add one more chair and plate if someone were to stop by.
Bill and Helen loved to travel to visit family, and visited most of the U.S., as well as Europe and South America when their sons lived overseas. They loved to play games – dominoes, UNO, Scrabble, etc. But most of all, they loved their family. They were blessed with nine grandchildren: Laura Mason, Megan (Ricardo) Zuniga, Kaytee Stearns, Ryan Stearns, Sarah (Erik) Harvey, Adam Stearns, Alex Stearns, Josiah Stearns, and Benjamin Stearns; and five great-grandchildren: Abby, A.J. and Grace Mason, Isaac Zuniga, and Finn Harvey.
Helen’s family who remain here to remember her include four of her sons and their families, all of Des Moines, Iowa: Scott (Mary), Brent (Kim), Brion, Gregg (Mindi), and her daughter-in law, Barbara of Weston, MO; her grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and brother-in-law, James Percival of Mason City.
Helen outlived a long list of relatives, including her parents, three brothers, six sisters and their spouses, her daughter, Suzanne, her son, Mark, and her grandson, Adam Stearns.
Visitation will be held at Merle Hay Funeral Home, 4400 Merle Hay Road in Des Moines on Sunday, April 23 from 2:00 –4:00 pm. Funeral services will be held at First Federated Church, 4801 Franklin Ave in Des Moines on Monday, April 24 at 10:30 am, followed by a lunch at the church.
Memorials may be made to the First Federated Church Missions Fund or Gideons International.