Henry Helfrich of Wetaskiwin celebrated his 90th Birthday with good company, good food, good memories and great generosity. More than a hundred of his invited guests came to the Moose Hall to help him celebrate, including three of his four children and many of his eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Also present were his legion buddies, many friends, and even a cousin from Holland.
Throughout the afternoon and early evening event, the young Master of Ceremonies, Zach, kept things moving along at a varied, relaxed and interesting pace. Every guest received a draw ticket as they arrived, so draws were made periodically throughout the event. Fairly early, Wetaskiwin Mayor, Bill Elliot, brought greetings and congratulations, some with certificates or plaques or scrolls or pins , on behalf of all levels of government: Prime Minister Stephen Harper, M.P. Blaine Calkins, Lieutenant-Governor Donald Ethel, Premier Dave Hancock, the Honourable Verlyn Olson MLA, and the City of Wetaskiwin. Chapters from Henry's life were spread throughout. The delightful Wetaskiwin Bavarian Band was present and played a couple sets, which a few people danced to, especially some energetic little tykes. Interspersed were quiet times for visiting or looking over the display of mementos from Henry's life. The caterer, Bob Ronnie from Ponoka, always does a good job, and this meal was certainly one of his best. Birthday cake was not the only dessert.
Henry grew up on a dairy farm near Viking, learning to work hard and be responsible at an early age. His father died at age 65 in 1940, when Henry was only 16 years old, and Henry took over the farm. He and a buddy joined up for World War II on January 13, 1943, the same day that Art Smith enlisted at Wetaskiwin. After being wounded in Italy in 1943, he came back to the farm in 1944, then bought his own farm when he married Millie in 1945. He learned to weld, and in about '59 or '60 he sold the farm and joined the plumbers and pipe fitters.
He's mostly been around Wetaskiwin since then, and has turned his yard into what was described as a “unique museum.” He has found things at garage and yard sales, and has used his creativity and welding skills to develop enchanting displays, to decorate trees and steps, to combine a multitude of items of many types and materials into intricate and attractive exhibits. He is proud that school classes are sometimes brought to see his front yard.
Henry Helfrich used his birthday celebration as an opportunity to give through both the celebration itself and the draw prizes which were two antique swords, a wrapped electronic gift, and a number of envelopes containing a $50 bill each. His generosity was much appreciated.
Henry and his many guests thoroughly enjoyed his 90th Birthday Party. His guests congratulate him on his achievements, and wish him many more happy and healthy years.