Helen Marie (Rowland) HaberkampMay 12, 1929 ~ December 7, 2017 (age 88)
Helen “Marie” Haberkamp, 88, of New Knoxville, died on Thursday, December 7 at 5:20am at the Otterbein Retirement Community of St. Marys.
She was born on May 12, 1929 in Memphis, TN, the youngest daughter of Mary Ethel (Payne) and Chester Lee Rowland.
Her father died in 1936 from health complications resulting from injuries he received in battle in World War I, for which he received the Croix de Guerre. This left Marie’s mother to raise three girls on her own, and required each of the girls to become self sufficient more quickly.
Marie’s excellent school grades allowed her to skip a year in school, and after high school she began her eight-year career as a telephone operator for the Southern Bell Telephone Company.
One of her co-workers set up a blind date with a gentleman who had moved to Memphis to attend the Southern College of Watchmaking to restart his life after contracting polio in World War II that had left him confined to a wheelchair. The date with Adrian Haberkamp led to marriage on June 21, 1952 at the First Baptist Church of Memphis.
After Adrian’s graduation from Watchmaking school, Marie gave up her job at Southern Bell and the couple moved to his home in New Knoxville, Ohio to open Haberkamp Jewelers on Main Street in half of what is now the Post Office Bldg. Marie initially worked in the store as a clerk and accountant, but transitioned to homemaker with the arrival of her two sons.
In the 1960s, Marie was instrumental in raising funds for New Knoxville’s first civic Christmas decorations, placing jars in nearby businesses, and working with other members of the American Legion Auxiliary and the Civic Association to bring a more festive spirit to Main Street. For many years she enjoyed decorating her house, inside and out, for Christmas and other holidays, and eventually became a go-to source for local Halloween costumes with her ever-growing collection that “someone might need some day”. She developed several iconic costumes for herself, making strong impressions as the Bride of Frankenstein, the Statue of Liberty and Medusa that are remembered fondly by those who encountered them.
Adrian’s 1959 addition of a swimming pool in the backyard was originally intended for his physical therapy, but it soon evolved into a place where Marie found herself providing access for many children in the community to learn to swim. Fortunately, her love of children, particularly babies, enabled her to nurture this extended family accordingly.
In 1963 Adrian opened a manufacturing company in New Knoxville which was originally called Pyropak, Mfg., later became Airport Mfg., and at one point employed more than 40 local people. Marie’s support was instrumental, but became particularly imperative when, in later years, Adrian’s post-polio syndrome resulted in him needing to work from his bed. Marie’s care and attention allowed Adrian to focus on the business rather than any limitations.
Marie was known for her sense of humor and her creative spirit, and enjoyed turning tuna cans into a Christmas tree and spouting into large candy canes. She loved to dance and would break into song when the right tune came on the radio, though her voice would soon evolve into laughter when she started to doubt the quality of her own singing (but not really). She kept the swimming pool clean, lifted her husband into the car to go to work, trimmed her own hedges and mothered her sons and any other kids that happened by. She was a force of nature, even as she was a loyal friend to those who knew her, and never a stranger to those who didn’t.
She was a member of the First Church of New Knoxville since 1954.
She was preceded in death by her husband in 1996, her mother in 1986, as well as her sisters, Mary Alice Traller of Warner Robbins, GA in 1997 and Opal Lorraine Franklin of Memphis, TN in 1983.
She is survived by her sons, Randy Haberkamp of Los Angeles, and Brian Haberkamp of New Knoxville.
Funeral rites will be held on Monday, December 11 at 11am at the First Church of New Knoxville, the Reverend Joel Bucklin, officiant. Burial will follow at Pilger Ruhe Cemetery.
Friends may call from 4-7pm on Sunday, December 10 in the Heritage Room of the First Church of New Knoxville, where memorial gifts may be given to Operation Smile (www.operationsmile.org) or The American Heart Association (www.heart.org).
Vornholt-Miller Funeral Home, 200 West Spring Street, New Knoxville is entrusted with Mrs. Haberkamp’s funeral arrangements. Condolences to the family may be sent to her family via Millerfuneralhomes.net.