Colleen Ione (Johnson, Helgeson) Ristau, age 92 of Hammond, WI died on Thursday, November 26, 2020 of COVID-19.
A family only service is being planned. The service will be live streamed on Keehr Funeral Home Facebook page on Friday, December 4, 2020 at 11 a.m.
Colleen was born on August 5, 1928 in Eau Galle Township to Otis and Esther (Nelson) Johnson. She was baptized and confirmed at Woodside Church, Baldwin, WI. After attending several country grade schools, she graduated from Woodville High School, Woodville, WI in 1946. Following high school, she attended Business College in Minneapolis, MN for one year. On October 1, 1947, she married Wilferd Helgeson at Woodside Church. They resided in the Woodville area. To this union, seven children were born. They later divorced in 1970.
Colleen’s children were very much a priority to her and this love was displayed in everything she did. When they got older, she sold Avon, as well as organized home parties selling children’s books and toys. Colleen’s post-high school education was useful later in life as she held several secretarial positions including assisting the Woodville Elementary School principal during his secretary's medical leave. When the secretary returned to school, Colleen was hired by Tubbs Accounting in Woodville, WI. In 1971, she was offered a position with St. Croix County Public Health Nursing Service in Hammond, WI and remained there until 1984.
On November 23, 1984, Colleen married Herman Ristau. Not only did Herman gain a wife, but also welcomed six children, spouses and four grandchildren into his life. Herman and Colleen made their home in Rochester, MN for several years before moving to Dexter, MN. Colleen worked part-time at J.C. Pennys in Rochester, MN until her retirement. Colleen and Herman enjoyed church, getting together with family, dancing, going to local parades and a good game of ‘500’. Colleen also enjoyed tending to her flowers; she could spend hours digging in the dirt!
Herman died in 2005. In 2007 Colleen made the decision to return to Baldwin, WI to be closer to family. Following the move, her interests navigated to genealogy, as well as she took a manuscript writing class. Genealogy occupied most of her time, but in-between she jotted down notes about her life with the intention of one day publishing a book for her grandchildren. This became a reality in November 2015 when “Tell Our Grandchildren” was self-published and sold locally. It covers Colleen’s life from 1928 to 2015.
Colleen was preceded in death by her parents, infant stillborn son, Wilferd Helgeson and husband, Herman Ristau.
Colleen is survived by her six children: Darlene (Charles) Kleba, Stone Lake, WI; Danny Helgeson, Brooklyn Park, MN; Randy Helgeson, Yuma, AZ; Diane (Steven) Herzog, Denver, CO; Jimmy (Heidi) Helgeson, River Falls, WI; and Michael (Patricia) Helgeson, New Richmond, WI.
Twelve grandchildren: Kerri (Kevin) Bauer, Khristopher (Elizabeth) Kleba, Martin (Adrienne) Helgeson, Joseph (Kristin) Helgeson, Deanna (Alpha) Ndebele, Matthew (Cathryn Greene) Herzog, Andrew (Mary Dorr) Herzog, Nicole (Felipe Contreras) Helgeson, Nathan Helgeson, Natalie (Samuel) Jonas, Zachary Helgeson and Rachel Helgeson.
Eleven great-grandchildren: Caeden Bauer, Nevaeh Bauer, Jack Kleba, Samantha Kleba, Abraham Helgeson, Elijah Helgeson, Vera Helgeson, Emma Helgeson, Nolan Helgeson, Brady Helgeson, and Julian Ndebele.
One sister, Lorraine (Robert) Hammer of Grantsburg, WI; numerous nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.
Due to the pandemic, services will be held at the Historic Woodside Place, Baldwin, WI for immediate family only (children/spouses, grandchildren/spouses and great-grandchildren).
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Historic Woodside Place, 2053 Cty. Road N., Baldwin, WI 54002. Condolences may be sent to Darlene Kleba, W1039 Horseshoe Road, Stone Lake, WI 54876.
Burial will be in Woodside Cemetery, rural Baldwin.
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