Honoring Sister Helen Huewe, 1935-2020
Even facing a critical illness, Sister Helen Huewe was determined to improve life for people in Dubuque.
While hospitalized for a rare form of pneumonia in January, Huewe was working to raise money to help Dubuque’s Marshallese community to purchase and renovate Paradise Church, an important hub for worship and gathering.
“Her work with the Marshallese has been amazing,” said Nancy Van Milligen president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. “I always felt she was so healthy and strong. Two weeks ago, she was making (Paradise Church) fundraising calls.”
Huewe died January 11 at age 84, and her most recent and urgent cause was to improve the lives, both physical and spiritual, of the Marshallese people she knew as neighbors and friends. While ill, she directed her closest associates to carry on with plans for Paradise Church. She she joined with them in urging friends and leaders toward the remaining $100,000 goal.
Her family of 65 years, the Sisters of St. Francis, has since requested the Community Foundation to assist in her dream of completing the Paradise Church Improvement Project.
The Paradise Church project is just one of many ways Huewe worked to make a difference in the community. After retiring in 1997 as president and CEO of what is today MercyOne Dubuque Medical Center, she led efforts to help the city’s most vulnerable residents.
In addition to working on the Paradise Church project, she was involved in Crescent Community Health Center’s Pacific Islander Health Project, a health care assistance program for the Marshallese community.
Born October 1, 1935, in Remsen, Iowa, Huewe became a Franciscan sister in 1955 and trained for a career in nursing. She worked in Dubuque-area health care for 40 years as a nurse and hospital administrator.
In retirement, she was instrumental in:
- Establishing Opening Doors, a transitional housing shelter for women.
- The founding of Crescent Community Health Center, a federally funded community health center for the underinsured.
- The transformation of the former St. Mary’s Church into Steeple Square.
“Her commitment (and) her persistence were amazing,” Van Milligen told the Telegraph Herald. “She would say, ‘Come on. We’ve got to do this.’ When Sister Helen does something, she’s all in.”