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 Helen Marie <I>Poh</I> Engel

Helen Marie Poh Engel

Birth
Sturgeon Bay, Door County, Wisconsin, USA
Death 24 Dec 2004 (aged 79)
Glendale, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, USA
Burial Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, USA
Plot Block 18, sec. 1, Lot 417, grave 2
Memorial ID 80518160 · View Source
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Helen Poh was born in "Sawyer" Wisconsin to George and Martha (Wedewart) Poh. By then Sawyer was annexed by Sturgeon Bay, but it retained its own post office in Helen's childhood.

Helen was the oldest of three children in the Poh family. They attended Corpus Christi school, in the basement of the church. Then they went on to Sturgeon Bay High School, from which Helen graduated in 1942.

When she was in high school in the 1940s she decided she wanted a career. The main choices she saw available to her were to be a secretary, teacher, or nurse. When she was a junior in high school she decided to become a nurse. She speculated in later years that her choice have been influenced by her seamstress mother, who had spoken of having wanted that career herself.

Mom was seventeen when she graduated from high school and knew that if she only took a three year program she would still have to wait a year to turn 21 to be able to be licensed. So she enrolled in the School of Nursing at Marquette University to earn her B.S. and become an R.N.

Helen lived with Mick and Marion Wedewart, her aunt and uncle, in West Allis. Helen worked in the restaurant Mick and Marion operated on 84th & Beecher - LaPlante's Lunch to pay for her tuition. It was here that she met her future husband, Russ Engel, who lived around the block.

Helen and Russ started dating around 1943 but he enlisted in the US Marine Corps. He started basic training in October and then shipped out to the Pacific.

In 1944 Helen enrolled in the U.S. Army's Cadet Nurse Program. The Army paid Helen's tuition ($110 per semester) and a stipend ($15 per month) in exchange for the obligation to serve as a 2nd lieutenant nurse in the Army for the duration of World War II. Helen graduated from Marquette with her Bachelor of Science degree in 1946, the year after the war ended, and was licensed as a Registered Nurse.

Helen worked for a year at Door County Memorial Hospital in Sturgeon Bay. She then married Russ at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Sturgeon Bay on June 14, 1947. She moved to Milwaukee and took a job at St. Joseph's Hospital. She immediately got pregnant. When her condition began to show the hospital gave her two choices - quit or work in the nursery. Helen stayed a while but then left three months before the birth to the first child. But that did not keep her out of the workforce. After the first child was born Helen resumed her career as an R.N., this time at St. Michael's Hospital in Milwaukee.

Helen went on to have a total of 13 children, while juggling her career.

It was especially tough being a working mom in those years. Some expressed their disapproval of the young mother returning to the workforce. And there were no maternity benefits. Helen recalled in 1981, "When I first started working I had to quit working each time I got pregnant." She would then have to fill out an application to come back after the birth. "Things changed a little by the time I had my last two. But I still had to work right up to the end if I wanted to keep my benefits."

Helen worked at St. Michael's for over 35 years. For a good portion of that she was a head nurse. In 1981 she looked back at the changes she had seen. "We were practicing team nursing when I first came here. But since I worked on [floor] 3-West, which was all private rooms, it was kind of like primary nursing all along to me."

"We had an R.N., an L.P.N. and three nursing assistants on PM's on 3-Main then. Now I work with four other R.N.'s and two Nursing Assistants. That gives me time to teach patients. We couldn't do that before, we were too busy doing other things."

"The whole nature of nursing has changed since I began working. Now we have in-service classes to teach us about new equipment and new techniques. We have floor meetings and support groups. And the whole nursing process is better. Nurses have more responsibility today than they ever did, and that's a big step ahead."

Helen and Russ built a ranch style home in Glendale 1n 1957. The family then attended St. Eugene Catholic Parish. At one point Helen was a nurse at St. Eugene School. For a time she taught St. Eugene CCD religion classes to high school students, at night.

- - - - - - - - - - AUNT HOLLY - - - - - - - - -
My Aunt Holly was always held in high esteem by my mother. Though my mother had her demons she had a wonderful intellect and was an excellent judge of character. My mother respected and admired Aunt Holly as a woman who did it all; a mother, a professional, a devoted wife, stolid, enduring, a rock. Thirteen kids, a cornucopia of pleasure and pain, a caregiver and empowerer who gave so much of herself selflessly to others.

My mother was always humbled by Aunt Holly (Saint Holly, she would sometimes say) and wished she could be more like her, don't we all, few actually are.

I didn't spend a lot of time with Aunt Holly in person but, since early childhood when we briefly lived in Milwaukee, I remembered her and she was in my thoughts often. I want to thank her for helping my mom struggle with her demons. She was a good friend to my mom. And I would like to thank her for the example she set.

When I think of Aunt Holly I see her at the sink or kitchen table or washing and folding clothes (laundry, endless mountains of laundry), always smoking a cigarette, shepherding the flock of kids around like a shop steward. Your mom always made sure Joey and/or Judy, who were closest in age to me, were close by to keep me company show me how to cope in your bewildering house of activity and commotion. With all she had to do she always made time to say some kind things to me and make me feel special and I guess that's one of the things that made her really special. She always thought about how the other person was doing. She seemed a well that never ran dry.

Her spirit and deeds live on and she will always be an inspiration to others when you need to reach down into your boots, roll up your sleeves and no matter how tired, sick, depressed or whatever you feel, you get up and do what needs to get done.

May she finally have the rest she deserves.

God Bless Aunt Holly.

Mel Jenssen
December 27, 2004
_ _ _

To my dear mother
whom I love more than any other,
If it weren't for you
I don't know what I'd do,
For me you are always there
Full of never ending loving care.
You are special in my heart,
My love for you shall never part.

Jayne Engel
10/30/87
_ _ _

20 May 1981, The Mike [Mike News, Printed for the Employees of St. Michael Hospital].

Four Women with a Silver Anniversary to Celebrate.

[Photo, with caption:] (From left to right) Helen Engel, Edith Kalchbrenner, Sr. Diane and Annie Hughes decide which 25 year award they'd like.

These four women spent one quarter of a century together as employees of St. Michael Hospital. Their respective silver anniversaries were reached during 1980.

They began working for St. Michael Hospital at the Fourth and Reservoir location. They were all involved in the move to our present location.

The kinship they feel, the changes they've seen and the stories they tell are all part of our heritage. Here is a smattering of thoughts and personal histories from each of our 1981 25-Year Award Recipients.

*****
Helen Engel, R.N., 2-South. Helen, who has had 13 children, was glad to see the recent changes in maternity leave benefits.

"When I first started working (at another Milwaukee hospital) I had to quit working each time I got pregnant," Helen said. "Things changed a little by the time I had my last two. But I still had to work right up to the end if I wanted to keep my benefits. It's not like that anymore."

When Helen was a student at Marquette, she did her clinical experience here. "That's when I decided to work at St. Mike's," she said.

"We were practicing team nursing when I first came here. But since I worked on 3-West, which was all private rooms, it was kind of like primary nursing all along to me.

"We had an R.N., an L.P.N. and three Nursing Assistants on PM's on 3-Main then. Now I work with four other R.N.'s and two Nursing Assistants. That gives me time to teach patients. We couldn't do that before, we were too busy doing other things.

"The whole nature of nursing has changed since I began working. Now we have inservice classes to teach us about new equipment and new techniques. We have floor meetings and support groups. And the whole nursing process is better. Nurses have more responsibility today than they ever did, and that's a big step ahead."

*****

Helen Engel Recipes

- Poor Man's Soup -
1 big onion - chopped
1 ring bologna, sliced thin
6 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
Salt
3-4 qts. water
Boil until potatoes tender

Russ liked this soup made with milk, Lenny liked it with kielbasa instead of bologna, and Helen likes to thicken it with potato buds.

- Slum Goulash -
1 doz. eggs, add a little bit of milk, then empty the fridge.


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  • Created by: John C. Engel
  • Added: 15 Nov 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 80518160
  • stephanie koehler
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Helen Marie Poh Engel (18 Mar 1925–24 Dec 2004), Find A Grave Memorial no. 80518160, citing Holy Cross Cemetery and Mausoleum, Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, USA ; Maintained by John C. Engel (contributor 47156252) .