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Published: Friday, 12/26/2008

Garage owner was trustee of Terra College

GIBSONBURG - Dale P. Helle, 85, owner of Helle Garage, a former volunteer firefighter, and a member of the Gibsonburg Exempted Village Board of Education during the 1960s, died Monday in his home.

He likely died of a heart attack, said his son Paul.

Mr. Helle was owner/operator of Helle Garage, with his wife Erma, for more than 55 years. The garage was first opened in 1947, a year after Mr. Helle had served in the Army Air Corps.

In 1954, the garage moved to its current location on North Webster Street, where he also sold Dodge, Plymouth, and Packard cars.

Mr. Helle started by fixing bicycles, then advanced to lawn mowers before mastering vehicle repair.

"He worked on everything and anything," Paul Helle said. "He's always done that kind of stuff."

The former showroom now is a variety store and the garage is his son Paul's hobby room. Although the garage is no longer a functioning business it is still intact.

Mr. Helle successfully ran for the local school board in 1962. He served four terms before moving on to the Northwest Region Executive Committee of the state school board association, and the board of trustees of Terra State Community College in Fremont.

Paul Helle said his father got a lot of satisfaction out of serving on boards of education. "He got some things done for the people that was good for everybody and not just one." He served on the Terra State board until 1984.

In 1968, while serving on the Gibsonburg Exempted Village Board of Education, Mr. Helle was instrumental in deciding the location of Hilfiker Elementary where they didn't have to build roads to get to it. "He got that school landed in a more practical location," Paul Helle said.

Mr. Helle was also a member of the Masonic Lodge 575 and the American Legion Post 17, both in Gibsonburg. He was a Zenobia Shriner of Toledo and was a member of the Fremont Flag Unit. Mr. Helle also played a key role as head of the Gibsonburg bicentennial in 1971.

"He was a well-respected man," Paul Helle said. "When you do the right thing they respect you for that. Practical thinking is still a pretty good way to go."

In recent years, Mr. Helle was a frequent patron of Hoys Again Restaurant and Tavern across the alley from the garage where he had coffee with friends. The gathering of a dozen older men in town was frequently called "the Gibsonburg recreation," Paul said.

Mr. Helle also belonged to the Fremont VFW and the Loyal Order of the Moose. He was a longtime member of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church.

He is survived by his children, Paul D. Helle of Gibsonburg, Lois M. Buchs of Montpelier, and Jim Helle of Fremont; eight grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Erma, and a brother, Lee Helle.

Visitation will be today from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Herman-Kinn-Veh Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Gibsonburg, where Masonic Services will begin at 7 p.m.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the funeral home, with Pastor Blair Miller officiating. Burial will follow at West Union Cemetery where military services will be conducted by the Gibsonburg American Legion.

The family requests memorials honoring Mr. Helle be made to the Gibsonburg Masonic Lodge 575 or to the Gibsonburg American Legion Post 17.



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