Beatrice John van Borkum Frances Witulski John & Frances

Helen Pauline van Borkum

Crippled at birth, Helen lived a life restricted to her home with her parents, mostly her mother Frances.  While every effort was made to make life easier for Helen, she never talked or walked unassitsted.  Although she did manage to utter 'Ha' when she recognized her brother Harold. Her mother cared for her until she died at the age of 33. 

When braces provided no relief, Helen spent her adult life being carried from the couch to a special chair made for her allowing her to sit at the dining table in the kitchen. Then back to the couch and finally carried to bed at night by her mother.  Complaints by Helen's mother Frances were unknown as far as us kids knew.  Frances was told by some that Helen's crippling ailment was the result of Frances' 'sinning' in her life.  Comforting I'm sure.

On what must have been very difficult for Helen, Mom and Dad take Helen for a short walk, just a few feet from their home at 1022 East Scott Street in Beatrice.  The house is in the background and is the home that Helen would live in until her death.


Helen was born on November 4th, 1919 and died September 19, 1957



Helen would be taken outside on a regular basis when she was young.  She was propped up in chairs to occasionally enjoy the sunshine. Her brother Harold is on the left, Frances, Helen's mother, is in the back holding Helen's sister Betty.  Helen's head is being supported by Hilda, a woman hired to help the family in caring for Helen.

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