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Obituary for Helen Marie Pias

December 12, 1926 – July 3, 2023

Helen Marie Pias, age 96, passed away peacefully on July 3, 2023, at Whispering Pines in Plover, Wis. She was born on Dec. 12, 1926, the daughter of the late Charles and Mary Cermak. She was a lifelong resident of Racine, Wis., and graduated from Horlick High School, “Class of 1945.”

Helen Marie Pias
Helen Marie Pias

After high school, she took a job as a punch-card operator where she met her husband, Arnie, in a fashion that would set the tone for the rest of their marriage. Being too shy to ask Helen out himself, Arnie convinced his brother, Jack, to ask her out instead. Helen agreed to go out with Jack, so she was sure surprised to see Arnie at her door on date night, and not Jack.

A bit confused, but never without her sense of humor, Helen shrugged her shoulders and went out with Arnie that night instead. They had pulled the old switcheroo on her, and it worked. It must have been a wonderful first date because they were married a few years later on Feb. 19, 1949. Their shared sense of humor and love of life bonded them together for the next 61 years (though each of them at times may have jokingly described them as “61 looooong years”).

Helen and Arnie had two children, David and Linda. Being born only 15 months apart, Helen joked that having “two under two” was the reason for any early gray hairs she may have had. With her young family, Helen very much enjoyed cookouts, vacationing and holiday celebrations.

Before retiring in 1983, Helen worked at Porter’s Furniture, located in Downtown Racine, in Inventory Control for approximately 20 years. She made sure that everyone in the family had at least a few very fine pieces of Porter’s furniture in their homes.

In retirement, she enjoyed traveling with Arnie (always bringing their dogs along on each adventure) and spending time with family, especially her three grandchildren Jason, Lisa and Bridget. She was an amazing, and very patient, grandma (who often went by the affectionate nickname “Granny Gritz”). We tested that patience many times, including our never-ending demand to hear the story about her encounter with a mouse in her house that she managed to trap under a plunger until Arnie came home. She must have told us that story over 100 times, but she was always happy to do it.

In addition to her family life, Helen had a very active social life and always enjoyed entertaining for all occasions, but especially loved hosting her annual Halloween parties. She had many friends, interests and hobbies, but in her own words, “Taking care of my family was my number one joy!”

While she loved to sew and knit, more than anything, she enjoyed her time in the kitchen. That’s where you could always find her at every gathering: busy cooking away in the kitchen. She loved to cook all sorts of different things, but she is definitely best known for her famous “Cukes” (more commonly known as dilled cucumbers). She would arrive at the house with her green “Little Scotch Jug” cooler filled with a fresh batch of Cukes. Then the race was on.

Who would get the spot at the table closest to the big bowl of Cukes? There may even have been a few elbows thrown for that seat from time to time, but hey, all’s fair in love and Cukes. Whenever we make that recipe today, no matter what time of year it is, the house always smells like the holidays.

It is never easy to let a loved one go, but there is some comfort in knowing that they were content and fulfilled in life. Helen reassured us of this often by reminding us in her humorous way: “I’ve got one foot in the grave and the other one on a banana peel.” She was loving and funny and full of life; a devoted wife, mother and grandmother who will be very dearly missed, but always very warmly remembered.

Surviving Helen are her children, David (Linda) Pias of Plover, Wis. and Linda (Pete) Ruffalo of Racine; grandchildren, Jason Ruffalo of Minnesota, Lisa Ruffalo of Franksville and Bridget Ruffalo of Racine; great-grandchildren, Sailor Ruffalo and Tucker Ruffalo; her brother, Charles (Carmen) Cermak of Racine; nieces, nephews; other relatives and dear friends. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Arnie Pias on July 26, 2010, and sister, Dorothy (Edward) Skowronski.


A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, July 11, 2023, at St. Rita Catholic Church, 4339 Douglas Ave., with Reverend Michael Petersen officiating. Entombment will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery and Mausoleum, Highway 32, where she will lay to rest next to her husband, Arnie, of 61 years. Relatives and friends may meet prior to the mass from 10-11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials to St Rita’s Parish or the Wisconsin Humane Society have been suggested.

Helen Marie Pias
Helen Marie Pias – Life Panel® courtesy of Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home

Obituary and photo courtesy of Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home.

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