Gene Hellman, 80, of Sparta, died Monday, March 16, 2020 at Gundersen Health System, La Crosse after a brief battle with kidney cancer. He was born on October 27, 1939 in Barron, WI to Anthony and Ruth (Rammer) Hellman. He grew up in Haugen, Barron, Rice Lake, and Eau Claire. He graduated from Eau Claire Regis in 1957.
Gene served in the US Air Force after high school. He married Betty Patrow on November 10, 1962 in Eau Claire. They had six children. Gene attended UW-Parkside while working full time and was a few credits short of receiving his Math degree when the family moved to Sparta.
Gene and Betty purchased Wilgrubs Distributing, a beer distributor, on May 1, 1973. They owned and operated Hellman Distributors from 1973 until his retirement in 2003.
Gene had a keen interest in knowing how things worked. While living in Racine he built and piloted his own gyrocopter. He could usually be found in his pole barn modifying something on his motorhome that was not designed to his standards. Gene enjoyed playing guitar, singing, fishing, golfing, downhill skiing, dune buggy rides in Arizona, crossword puzzles, and his evening beer. He was a member of the Sparta Lions, a founding member and president of Sparta Butterfest, and a Family Motorcoach Association member.
Gene is survived by his wife, Betty of Sparta; children, James (Allison) Hellman of Sparta, Kristine (Jeff) Bechard of Eau Claire, David (Elizabeth) Hellman of Eau Claire, Carolyn (Christopher Sack) Hellman of Green Bay, and Daniel Hellman of Sparta; 15 grandchildren; siblings, Joanne Ingram of Eau Claire, Judyne Hellman of Minneapolis, MN, and Robert (Judy) Hellman of Neenah, WI; and other family and close friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his daughter, Jill.
Gene will be laid to rest in a private family ceremony. The family will invite friends and family to celebrate Gene’s life at a later date.
The Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home, Sparta, is assisting the family with arrangements.
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