Eureka- Helen Guile Birkett Dorward, 89, passed away at
10:15 pm at Maple Lawn Nursing Home in Eureka, IL on March
14, 2013. Helen was born on October 7, 1923 in Pekin,
Illinois. Her mother died of tuberculosis soon after her
birth so Helen had a difficult early life, living in several foster
homes and orphanages before coming to live with Harry and Mary
Birkett at age 7. Helen grew up on their farm, which was on
Guth Road outside of Washington, living with Aunt Mae and Uncle
Harry until she was married.
Helen attended Pleasant View School from grade 3 to 8 when it was
still a one-room schoolhouse. She graduated from Washington
High School in 1942 and entered Proctor Hospital School of Nursing
in Peoria where she graduated 3 years later. She went on to
do post graduate work at the University of Chicago in
In 1950, Helen married Donald Dorward. They had two sons,
whom they raised in Columbus, OH. James, who now lives in
Logan, UT and David who now lives in Hamilton, MT. Helen
enjoyed traveling to Europe and Hawaii with her family. She was
later divorced from Donald.
Helen continued to pursue her career in nursing, even while
raising two boys. She worked at hospitals in Detroit, MI;
Columbus, OH and eventually returned to her beloved Illinois-
working at Hawthorne Lodge in El Paso until her retirement.
Even after retirement, Helen enjoyed volunteering in a variety of
settings. She was a long time member of the Eureka Women's
club and the Washington PEO, where she had many friends.
Helen was a woman of many talents and interests. She loved
to needlepoint and knit. For many years she knitted baby clothes,
Barbie doll clothes, scarves and booties, donating numerous hours
for various causes. She also loved antiques, furnishing and
decorating her home on Leo Street in Eureka, before moving to a
Maple Lawn cottage and then the nursing home. Helen's
favorite color was pink, especially pink flowers.
Helen is survived by her 2 sons James (Sherry) and David (Renae)
Dorward as well as three grandchildren: Lori D. Nichols (Scott),
Benjamin Dorward and Heidi Dorward and 3 step grandchildren
Leilani, Melissa and Maria, all of whom she loved dearly. She
was preceded in death by one brother, Melvin Guile and one sister,
Leva B. Cluts.
Funeral services will be held at 10 am on Monday March 18, 2013 at
Maple Lawn Memorial Hall. Pastors Doane Brubaker and Robert
Harnish will officiate. Visitation will be from 9-10 am before the
services at Memorial Hall. Burial will be at Glendale
Cemetery in Washington.
Memorial contributions may be made to Maple Lawn Health Care
Center. Online condolences may be sent to the family at
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