May 23, 1927 – November 7, 2019
Born in Montreal, Québec
Resided in Lincoln, NE
Helen Louise Snowdon Mikasen
Helen Mikasen was born Helen Louise Snowdon on May 23, 1927 in Montreal, Québec. Helen died in Lincoln NE on November 7, 2019 at age 92. She grew up in the hale and hearty Canadian way; ice skating during the city winters and swimming all summer at the family cottage in the Eastern Townships. In those years, the Montreal public schools required Latin and eight years of French. As a result, Helen had a command of language that few college students have today. After high school, she graduated from the prestigious Notre Dame Secretarial School, working as an executive secretary in Montreal from 1945 until 1953. She was very proud of being able to type 95 words per minute, although later in life the lasting damage from that feat would come to affect the strength of her wrist.
She met Robert Mikasen, the love of her life, while traveling by train to Los Angeles for a vacation. Bob was the dining car steward for the Rock Island Railroad and just happened to meet her on both legs of her journey. They exchanged mailing addresses and their brief romance occurred by way of a series of letters that ended with Bob’s visit to Montreal to meet her parents.
They married in September 1953 and settled in Chicago. Bob traveled often with his job during the first years of their marriage and Helen commuted to the Loop, working at the Victor Chemical Company in the Chicago Board of Trade Building, then the tallest downtown. In 1956, she stopped working and started her family of two daughters, Jody and Marjorie. Her organizational and executive abilities enabled her to step into the role of Clerk of Session at the Presbyterian Church the Mikasens attended. She served in this volunteer capacity in the late 1960’s. In 1970, the family moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, where Bob worked as an accountant at the BN headquarters.
In St. Paul, Helen took a position in the Oval Room at the downtown Dayton’s store from 1972 until 1980. This was the couture department, and Helen had a flair for fashion. As a young woman she’d be trying on hats at Eaton’s in Montreal when other customers would stop to tell her how good she looked. She had the kind of charisma and integrity that made her an outstanding and valued sales person. In 1975, the Mikasen family opened Jody’s Gift Shop in downtown St. Paul, selling fashion jewelry, gifts, and Hallmark cards. Helen particularly enjoyed the buying trips with her daughters to the Apparel Mart in Chicago and seasonal promotions as part of the Carriage Hill Merchants Association. In the 1980s, the family sold the store and their daughters married and moved away. In 1986, Helen and Bob moved to Middlebury, Vermont, so they could take monthly trips to Montreal to visit Helen’s aging mother. Their retirement in Vermont was punctuated by sightseeing, antiquing and gardening; Helen maintained a beautiful flower garden. By 1998, they moved back to St. Paul. A few years after Bob died at age 87 in 2009, Helen moved to The Legacy at 56th and Pioneers in Lincoln, Nebraska.
She was the institutional memory of the family, keeping many stories alive as a special kind of inheritance. A born conversationalist, Helen had an excellent mind and a ready laugh. Throughout her life, wherever she lived, she was able to attract a large and devoted circle of friends.
Helen’s family will dearly miss her. She is survived by Jody Mikasen (Wayne Foster), Naples FL; Marjorie Mikasen (Mark Griep), Lincoln NE; grandson Robert Foster (Amy Vanderlin), great-granddaughter Mira Foster, Minneapolis MN.
Private burial. Memorials to the Nicholson-Lloyd Faculty Support Research Fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation, or the Sheldon Art Association Acquisitions Designated Fund, Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska Lincoln.
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