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Helen Houge

March 27, 1923-Jan. 8, 2008

Helen E. Houge, 84, of Detroit Lakes, passed away Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at Innovis Health in Fargo.

Helen Esther Skulstad was born to Martin and Magna (Rismoen) Skulstad on March 27, 1923 on a farm near Dalton, Minn. She was baptized in Ten Mile Lake Church in Tumuli Township, Otter Tail County. Helen started country school in Underwood.

In 1933, Helen moved with her family to Hamden Township, near Audubon. She was confirmed in October 1937 from Saron Lutheran Church, Audubon. She attended country school until 1936, then continued her education by attending Audubon High School, graduating in June 1940.

In the fall of 1940, Helen attended business school in Minneapolis. Helen's first job out of business school was at an insurance company on the 24th floor of the Foshay Tower in Minneapolis. In 1941, Helen took a job at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., where she was a secretary for the Transportation Division of the War Department. She further helped the war effort by entertaining returning injured soldiers with her singing at many USO canteens near Walter Reed Hospital.

Helen returned to Minnesota and married Winston C. Houge in Moorhead. She ran their farming operation for many years while raising their six children. In 1962, she went to work at Swift's in Detroit Lakes, retiring in 1988.

Helen had a beautiful voice and throughout her life was called upon to sing at many occasions. She was an accomplished seamstress and sewed often. Helen loved gardening and growing beautiful flowers, expanding her garden every year. After retirement she took up several Norwegian cultural skills, including hardanger, rosemaling and chip carving.

Helen was active in the Sons of Norway, where she served as both vice president and cultural director, and mentored many people in a variety of Norwegian skills. She was only the seventh person in the nation to obtain the double Master of Cultural Skills distinction by completing all levels of study in the Norwegian language, genealogy, reading, music and hardanger.

Helen was also an expert genealogist, tracing her family many generations. She helped most of the members of the Vikingland Lodge 495 identify their home farms in Norway, thus obtaining much genealogical information. Fluent in Norwegian, she was often called upon to translate anything in that language. She was also very active in the United Methodist Church.

Helen is survived by her two sons and four daughters, Jon (Nancy) Houge of Tennessee, Ben (Margaret) Houge of Minnesota, JoAnne (Howard) Hogan of California, Lisa Gustafson, Chris (Roger) Guida and Karen (Clair) Hanson, all of Minnesota; eight grandchildren; six great grandchildren; brother-in-law M. Jordan Houge and sisters-in-law Marjorie Houge and Mavis (Robert) Kawlewski.

Preceding her in death were her husband, Winston; her parents, her brothers, Herbert and Manfred; sisters, Agnes and Clara; brother-in-law, Sherlock Houge; and sisters-in-law, Mary Skulstad and Idelle Meylink.

Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, at West-Kjos Funeral Home, Detroit Lakes.

Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, at United Methodist Church in Detroit Lakes, with interment following at Oak Grove Cemetery, Detroit Lakes.

Arrangements were entrusted to West-Kjos Funeral Home, Detroit Lakes. Those wanting to share memories and condolences are invited to use the funeral home's online messages of sympathy section at