Cover photo for Helen Christopher's Obituary
1946 Helen Christopher 2024

Helen Christopher

July 4, 1946 — March 29, 2024

Moline, Illinois

Helen Christopher, 77, of Moline, Illinois, passed away Friday, March 29, 2024, at UnityPoint Health – Trinity Rock Island, after a courageous battle with cancer.

Private burial is in Rock Island National Cemetery under the direction of Trimble Funeral Home, Moline.  In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Moody Radio Quad Cities (WDLM). 

The former Helen Bykowsky was born July 4, 1946, in Kempton, Germany, the daughter of Vasile and Natasha (Tozick) Bykowsky.  She graduated from Rock Island High School in 1964 and went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Augustana College and master’s degree from Western Illinois University.

Drawing from her own experiences as an immigrant, she dedicated her life to assisting others in similar circumstances throughout her long and devoted career as an ESL educator.  Helen's career spanned across various educational institutions, including the Moline and Rock Island school districts, where she tirelessly worked to empower students with the language skills needed to thrive in their new environment. Additionally, her commitment extended to the Black Hawk Area Education Center and the Dyslexic Learning Center.

Helen's life was adorned with love, beginning with her marriage to Ronald Van Vooren on September 25, 1965.  The couple was blessed with three children prior to his passing on September 22, 1993.   She later married John “J.R.” Christopher on June 21, 1997.  Their union brought light and happiness into Helen’s life in her later years.

A woman of faith, Helen found solace and community at Heritage Church, Rock Island. She was also a member of the Black Hawk Hiking Club, where her love for the outdoors flourished. Helen found joy in the simple pleasures of life, particularly in playing tennis and pickleball, exploring nature through hiking and birdwatching, and tending to her garden.

However, above all her passions, Helen held her family closest to her heart. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, finding profound joy and purpose in nurturing and supporting her family.  Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren held a special place in her heart, and she cherished every moment spent with them, creating memories that will be treasured for generations to come.

She is survived by her loving husband, J.R.; three children, Dean (Susan Hafner) Van Vooren, Kelene (Rich) Henning, and Stephanie (Kent) Pottebaum, all of Moline; step-children, Terrence (Tedgie) Christopher and Lisa (Jay Moore) Christopher, both of Moline; grandchildren, William, Truman, Phineas, Harry, and Maisy Van Vooren, Richard (Alexa) Henning, Chelena (Corey) Saberton, Hunter Henning and Natasha Henning; and Ezra, Stella and Henry Pottebaum; step-grandchildren, Noah Christopher, Chloe (Luke) Hodgerson, and Laila Moore; great-grandchildren, Theo and Walker Henning, and Vasile Saberton; a sister, Stella Lanaghan of Naples, Florida; and a niece, Julie Showalter.  She was preceded in death by her parents; and siblings, Paul, Frank and Marie.

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