Rochester resident, Mrs. Helen L. Bitterling, 96 years, 1 month and 15 days, departed this life, 8 a.m. Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Bowling Green, Ky.
On March 10, 1923, Helen Louise Conn was born in Winamac. She was a treasured daughter of Rufus and Katie Hoch Conn. Growing up as the second youngest of the Conn children, she shared her childhood with a sister Olive and two brothers Harry and Don. As a member of the “Greatest Generation,” and a pre-teen during the Depression years, she developed a strong work ethic. In 1941 she graduated from Winamac High School.
In Jackson, Mich., she married the love of her life, Mr. Ralph H. Bitterling March 12, 1941. They shared 62 years of life’s adventures. From their union came three wonderful children a daughter, Lona and three sons, Bob, Alan and Jim. The added blessings of three more generations have been added to the family tree.
Assisting Mr. Bittlerling on the farm with the daily operations, she could do many things. In the early years their dairy farm was home to a herd of 50 Holsteins, a flock of chickens, goats and pigs. Whether it was milking, assisting with a livestock birth or gathering eggs she was always in the thick of all of the events. Summer brought on baling hay and straw and it was Helen driving the tractor. She always prepared full farm style meal buffets for the help. When Lona turned 10, Helen groomed her for kitchen duty. As she rounded the field she would swing by and check in on Lona’s progress.
Annually the Bitterlings planted a truck patch garden. Autumn brought on the bountiful harvest allowing her to freeze and can for the family’s winter use. They raised and butchered the beef, chickens, and hogs essentially living off the land.
As the matriarch of the Bitterling family, Grandma Helen was proud to oversee five generations. She looked forward to visits from her 11 grandchildren and rejoiced at the arrivals of each of the great-grands and the great-greats! She was very proud of her legacy and vibrant family tree. Celebrating the holidays and special family events were always when the best memories were made.
Helen is lovingly remembered by a daughter, Lona Hoover of Peru; two sons: Alan Bitterling and wife Carol of Rochester, James Bitterling of Bowling Green, KY; 11 grandchildren; numerous great-grandchildren, and several great-great-grandchildren; a brother, Donald Conn and wife Helen of South Bend; and several nieces and nephews.
Preceding Helen Bitterling in death are her parents Rufus and Katie Conn; beloved husband Ralph on Sept. 13, 2003; son, Robert Bitterling; a sister, Olive Lebo and a brother, Harry Conn; son-in-law, David Hoover; and two great-grandchildren.
A celebration of the life of Mrs. Helen L. Bitterling will be at 3 p.m., Thursday, May 2, in the Good Family Funeral Home, 1200 W. 18th St., Rochester. Pastor Rod Ruberg will officiate. Friends may visit with the family from noon-3 p.m. on Thursday in the funeral home. Interment will be in the Lake Bruce Cemetery near Kewanna. Memorials may be made to Riverview Community Church, 3780 State Road 110, Tippecanoe, IN 46570.