R. David Helling

Obituary of R. David Helling

Family and friends in Waukesha and beyond deeply mourn the loss of Dave Helling, who died on May 25, 2018, at Seasons Hospice, less than three months after a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Dave was 81, born in Wausau, WI on January 2, 1937.


Dave’s life was filled to the brim with kindness and generosity, and his interests were varied and many. By profession he was a radiologist, having worked at Waukesha Memorial Hospital for over twenty-five years. In the late 1960’s Dave served for three years as a physician in the US Army, directing an Army Base Dispensary in Germany.


Among his many interests were rousing intellectual and political discussions, the company of good friends and family, traveling, gardening, and, very memorably, gourmet cooking. His remarkable dishes graced the tables of countless family dinners, picnics, and potlucks.


Dave’s vision of a life well lived extended to working toward the good of the greater community. He was a social justice activist, an ardent feminist, and a generous donor to many agencies and causes. One of his greatest passions was the mission and work of The Women’s Center of Waukesha. As former Director Marie Kingsbury comments, “Dave was much more than a generous donor, volunteer, board member, past president and advocate for The Women’s Center and its clients. He was always thinking of how to strengthen the organization and its donor base to make certain that victims and survivors of domestic and sexual abuse had a safe place to go for comfort and support. His passion for the mission of The Women’s Center was rooted in his heartfelt conviction that all of us are a part of the solution to ending violence in our homes and communities.” Dave was also one of the founders of the Food Pantry of Waukesha, served for many years on the boards of United Way and various non-profit organizations, and was currently a board member of social-justice-oriented interfaith groups SOPHIA and CLS.


Among those most grievously missing him are Bonnie Birk, his wife of almost thirty years; his children, Moni (Jonas) Grushkin of Durango, CO, Elizabeth (Mark Mead) Capdevila of Denver, CO, Jenny (Jeff Day) Helling of Novato, CA, and Michael Helling of Austin, TX; his grandchildren Chelsey, Liria, Jackson, Griffin, and Landon; his sister Kay (Ed) Slewitzke of Merrill, WI, and his brother Charles (Barbara) Helling of Waukesha.


Also sorely missing Dave, their ‘second Dad,’ are Bonnie’s daughters, Michelle Moran, Robin (Shon) Johnson, Lisbeth Glumm, and Natalie Glumm, all of Waukesha; her grandchildren Curtis, Kyle, Craig, Bobby, Brian, Bridget, Brett, Brooke, and Alex; and great-grandchildren Aiden, Paxton, Brayden, Calvin, and Elise.


He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Ann (Blecha) Helling, his sister Sally, and his brother Michael.


Per Dave’s wishes there will be no funeral service, but a celebration of his life will be held at a later date. Donations in his memory to any good cause will be appreciated; suggested are The Women’s Center or Planned Parenthood.

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