Helen Louise Karls

August 09, 1917 - October 29, 2023


Obituary For Helen Louise Karls

Helen Louise Karls passed away peacefully at Saint Mary’s Hospital on Sunday October 29, 2023 after a long 106-year life. Helen was born on August 9, 1917, in the midst of World War I. She was born in Madison, WI where she lived her entire life. She was the daughter of Mathias Karls and Emma Bumann Karls. Helen was the eldest of three siblings. Her father owned a meat market on N Bassett Street for many years and Helen grew up in a home on West Washington Ave. Helen attended Edgewood High School and would take the streetcar to get to school. She graduated from Edgewood in 1935, and received a National Honor Society award. Helen never married, and when her parents moved to Virginia Terrace she moved with them. After her father died in 1965, Helen and Emma moved to Holly Avenue in the Westmorland neighborhood. She lived with her mother and took care of her until her death in 1980.

As a young woman, Helen loved to travel with friends and her sister Kay. One of her favorite stories recalls the harrowing adventure of driving up to Pikes Peak in a rickety bus on a road with a very steep drop off. Helen was also part of a women’s bowling team and enjoyed spending time with her friends.

Helen worked for the Wisconsin Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations (DILHR) now known as the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, for 45 years, and retired in 1981. She was an analyst in the department’s adjudication and fraud-control unit.

After retiring, Helen volunteered at Midvale School working with children. She would walk the four blocks to the school from her home and would work with the first and second graders on their reading. Having no children of her own, she loved the unofficial role of “classroom grandmother”. Once a year the students would come to her home for a picnic and enjoyed playing with her dog in the yard. Helen owned several dogs as companions after she retired, all of them Shelties.

Helen’s Catholic faith was very important to her. She was initially a member of Holy Redeemer Church in downtown Madison, which served the Madison German community. After moving to Virginia Terrace the family joined Blessed Sacrament Parish where Helen remained a faithful member for the rest of her life. She was a very active parishioner and was generous in supporting both local and international charities. Helen counted several priests among her special friends including her cousin Father Tony Karls, Father Pat Norris, Brother Edward Van Merrienboer and Father Luke. Special friends also include her neighbor Delores (Ned) Schmitt, and fellow Blessed Sacrament parishioners Sue and Mark Landgraf, and John Schmitz and Jean Tretow-Schmitz.

Helen was preceded in death by her father Mathias Karls, mother Emma Karls, brother Fredrick Karls and his wife Madeline, sister Catherine (Kay) Ophime and her husband Ed, and niece and Goddaughter Virginia Buehler. Her survivors include Virginia’s husband Kent Buehler, nieces and nephews, Kathy (John) Gifford, Stephen (Jean) Karls, Terri (Peter) Burns, Richard (Judith) Karls, and Sharon (Ken) Williams, as well as many great nieces and nephews and their children.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, November 20, 2023 at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Parish, 2116 Hollister Ave, Madison. A visitation will be held on Monday at the church from 10:00 a.m. until time of Mass. Interment will follow at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery.


20 Nov


10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church 2116 Hollister Ave Madison, Wi 53726 Get Directions »
20 Nov

Mass of Christian Burial

11:00 AM

Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church 2116 Hollister Ave Madison, Wi 53726 Get Directions »
by Obituary Assistant

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  • November 12, 2023

    I had the pleasure to know Helen for about 20 years as I came to help with her yard work. She was such a kind woman. I miss stopping for a chat after the work was done. Go with God Helen.

  • November 08, 2023

    Helen was a great lady. I fixed her and Kay's for many years. I would get finished with Helen and fix Kay's hair and have to locate Helen up at Metcalf grocery store to give them both a ride home. I did that for many years. They were both wonderful ladies. Helen you will be missed by all !

  • November 08, 2023

    Kathy, So sorry to hear of the passing of Aunt Helen. After hearing so many stories about her from you, I almost feel as though I knew her. My condolences, Jane DeRosia

  • November 07, 2023

    Helen will be remembered as a woman of wonderful faith. I find peace in knowing that she is at last with her Savior.

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