Helen attended local parochial and public schools, graduated in 1937 from Illinois College, Jacksonville, IL, with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and received an MBA from Saint Louis University in 1959. Her teaching career included Illiopolis Illinois Community High School and the Belleville Public School District, including Central Jr. High School. In 1985, she received the Distinguished Citizen Award from Illinois College, and in 1987, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from the college.
During World War II, Helen served as the director of NCCS – USO Club in Alexandria, LA. She worked for the American National Red Cross for more than 32 years. From 1959 to 1961, Helen was assigned to Japan as Director of Personnel for the Far Eastern Area office, and then returned to the United States to become Director of Personnel for the Midwestern area until her retirement in 1978. She enjoyed her involvement in the St. Louis district of the retirees from the American Red Cross.
A world traveler with a keen interest in the history, culture, people, and language of countries she visited was especially evident, and was extended to the local community and county. Her involvement in local organizations included president of the Belleville Branch of the American Association of University Women (honorary life member) and life membership in the St. Clair County Historical Society and the St. Clair County Genealogy Society. Helen was a volunteer reader for Radio Information Service and drove for the Meals on Wheels program at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, where she was a life member of the Hospital Auxiliary and served on their scholarship committee. In 1990, Helen was a member of the St. Clair County Bicentennial committee. She was active in Friends of the Belleville Public Library, the Belleville Heritage Society, and the St. Clair County Serra Club.
Helen was a parishioner of St. Augustine of Canterbury Catholic Church in Belleville, was a member of the Ladies Sodality, and served as a lector and Eucharistic Minister at the church.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Leon “Lee” P. and Ella M., nee Fersch, Grandcolas; four brothers Edward A. Grandcolas, Peter S. Grandcolas, William A. Grandcolas, and Paul Grandcolas; three sisters-in-law, Melva Grandcolas, Audrie Grandcolas, and Frances Grant; and a dear aunt, Florence, nee Fersch, Ebner.
Surviving are one brother, Leon M. (Rita) Grandcolas of Carmel, CA;
one sister-in-law, Marcella Grandcolas of Overland Park, KS;
two nieces, Susan (William) Bauer of Oregon,
and Nancy (Alan) Meyer of Nebraska;
12 nephews, Thomas (Nancy) Grandcolas,
Jeffrey (Cathy) Grandcolas,
Stephen (Carla) Grandcolas, all of Belleville, IL,
Dr. David Grandcolas and Robert (Jan) Grandcolas, both of New Jersey,
Richard (Laura) Grandcolas, James Grandcolas,
Mark Grandcolas, Jack Grandcolas, and Michael Grandcolas, all of California,
Daniel Grandcolas and Gary (Meg) Grandcolas, both of Kansas;
14 grand-nieces and grand-nephews;
and eight great-grand nieces and great-grand-nephews.
Memorials may be made to the charity of the donor’s choice or to any of the organizations listed above. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.rennerfh.com.
Visitation: Friends may visit with the family from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. Monday, August 8, 2016, at St. Augustine of Canterbury Catholic Church, Belleville, IL.
Funeral: A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11:00 a.m. Monday, August 8, 2016, at St. Augustine of Canterbury Catholic Church, Belleville, IL, with Msgr. William McGhee officiating. Burial will be at Green Mount Catholic Cemetery, Belleville, IL.
On behalf of the officers, directors, and members of the St Clair County Historical Society, I offer our sincerest condolences to the Grandcolas family on the loss of a truly remarkable woman. Helen Grandcolas was a Life Member, Past President, and Volunteer of the Year in 1997. We would not be what we are today without her.
William P Shannon IV, Belleville, IL, 62220
My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. It has been my pleasure to know Miss Helen. May God hold you close and comfort you.
Ava Carr, Swansea , Il, 62226