Galen Louis Helmke (February 27, 1916 – September 18, 2016)
After 100 years traveling our earth, Galen Louis Helmke found his final place to rest Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016 at the Community Living Center of the VA in Grand Junction, CO.
After the Utes were ousted from Escalante Canyon near Grand Junction in 1881, Galen’s grandparents, Ernst and Augusta Helmke, newly arrived from Germany, braved the canyon walls using pulleys and ropes for their wagons, horses, and household goods to embrace a new frontier in ranching.
Galen’s parents, Louis Frederick Helmke and Sarah Rees, married June, 7, 1915. Galen was born a year later, February 27, 1916. A heavy snowstorm in November, 1919 wiped out Louis’ herd. Galen’s parents, left the canyon and bought another ranch up Northeast Creek on the Uncompahgre Plateau. From then on Galen was “farmed” out to relatives for his schooling, which included a time in the Salton Sea Valley in California and other places across the west. He was graduated from Delta High School in 1935.
Galen’s love of the land took him to Colorado University where he followed a degree in geology. His first job was with Texaco Oil as a surveyor. He married Flora Evelyn Cook, who worked for the Delta, CO newspaper, in 1939 in Telluride, CO. Shortly afterward, he was called to serve in World War II with the U.S. Army in a regimental reconnaissance platoon. In the dead of night, he silently canvassed and then mapped French towns for hospitals, schools, and the advancement of German soldiers. He was involved with freeing the first slave labor camp with the allied troops in Europe.
After the war, he went to work for Standard Oil &Gas as a geologist. In 1950, he started an independent consulting business in Casper and was successful in finding oil fields in Colorado and Utah. He retired in 1996, but never tired of talking about the rocks and land he loved.
Galen is survived by his son, Dick Helmke and his daughter-in-law, Marice Doll, both of Glenwood Springs, CO, and his granddaughter, Elise (Kelly) Anderson, Grand Junction, CO. Galen requested a private ceremony to return his body to the land he traveled upon during his life.
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