Helen Dina (Habermann) Simpkins, 87, formerly of Pekin, passed away Friday, April 1, 2017, at Concordia Village.
She was born on February 24, 1930.
Helen loved the outdoors. Her hobbies included vegetable and flower gardening, enjoying the spring blooms on the trees and flowers, bird watching and feeding the hummingbirds. She also enjoyed fishing and preparing her catch for family with her secret recipe and baking pies and sweets with fruits from her orchard for neighbors, friends and church activities. She loved to travel and took pride in planning mission trips around the world, taking her children and grandchildren on family vacations to learn of new cultures and world history. She also loved playing cards with her long-time girlfriends and would say that good friends can play a mean game of cards and always laugh together afterwards.
Helen attended elementary school in Steeleville, Illinois, and graduated from Campbell High School in Campbell Hill, Illinois. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Carthage College in Carthage, Illinois. She continued her studies at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, where she met her husband, Rev. Harold Simpkins Jr. She and Harold were married on June 19, 1960.
Helen and Harold lived throughout central Illinois, including the towns of Vermilion/Clay's Prairie, San Jose, Manito, Glenarm/New City, Williamsville, Jacksonville, Pekin, Nokomis, Virden and Moweaqua, while Harold served as minister at the local Methodist church parishes. Helen owned and operated a travel agency, Helen's Travel Center, Inc., of Taylorville, IL, for nearly 25 years. She dedicated her purposes to organizing, traveling and volunteering on church mission trips. Among her missions, she traveled to Zambia, where she taught Bible school to street children, built and painted churches in Alaska and Haiti, built playgrounds at orphanages in Russia and China, and helped at free vision centers for the locals in the Dominican Republic, as well as other mission trips throughout the Caribbean. She was co-chairperson of the Methodist's Sangamon River District Mission Committee, Chairperson of the Mission Committee at First United Methodist Church of Taylorville, and served as vice-chairperson for Taylorville First United Methodist Women, where she organized UMW Assemblies throughout the country. She served as District Representative for Cunningham Children's Home in Champaign, IL, volunteered at Midwest Distribution Center in Chatham, IL, and recruited people to volunteer on the "Operation Schoolhouse" project for the purpose of supplying all school children with the appropriate supplies and clothing necessary to begin public education. She was also active on the Alain Recourt Foundation Committee in Springfield, IL.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Albert and Lillie (Liefer) Habermann; husband, Rev. Harold Simpkins Jr.; and a younger brother, Clarence Habermann.
She is survived by a son, Mark (Jael) Simpkins of Eureka, IL; a daughter, Joy (Jeff) Ferry of Springfield, IL; four grandchildren, Matthew (Tracy), Michael and Katie Simpkins of Eureka, IL, and Sarah Nicole Ferry of Phoenix, AZ; three great-grandchildren, Brantley, Cole and Josie Simpkins; and three nephews.
Cremation was accorded by Butler Cremation Tribute Center, prior to ceremonies. The family is hosting a memorial gathering and ceremony. They will receive friends at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 9, 2017, at First United Methodist Church, 200 S. Walnut St., Taylorville, IL, until the time of the ceremony at 3:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Helen's name to the Preacher's Aid Society Benevolent Fund, P.O. Box 19207, Springfield, IL 62794.
Condolences may be sent to the family at 2604 Parsley Lane, Springfield, IL 62711.
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