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Helyn Hillyer

Helyn M. Hillyer

October 29th, 1927 - April 12th, 2023

Helyn's Obituary

Helyn Martha Hillyer went to join the Lord and the love of her life, Robert Hillyer, on Wednesday, April 12, 2023, at the River Ridge Memory Care facility in South Haven, MI. Helyn was born in Bronson, Michigan, October 29, 1927 to Elmer and Mary Radford.

Helyn’s name was spelled Helen until she was in her teens, and she decided to change the spelling after seeing it spelled “Helyn”. She graduated from Bronson High School in 1945 and then went to Western Union School followed by work in St. Joseph, Benton Harbor, and Kalamazoo. While she was a senior in high school, she took part in a program of writing to soldiers that were serving in WWII. She was assigned to a local fellow by the name of Robert Hillyer and they communicated regularly during his service in the U.S. Navy. When he got out of the service he returned home and looked up Helyn and the rest is history. They married in April 1948 and spent 25 happy years together before he died in 1973.

Robert and Helyn moved to Kalamazoo in 1950, where Robert joined the Kalamazoo Police Dept. and Helyn worked for Miller Davis Co. and Henry Upjohn Co. In 1955, they decided to buy their own business to work together and bought the Decatur Newsstand.

On June 19, 1959, they adopted two young brothers, Ed and Joe. Helyn always said this was the biggest day of her life. She and Bob sold the Newsstand in 1963 and for several years they worked side by side in a couple of business ventures, including the Hillyer’s Toy Store in Paw Paw. In 1969, they bought the Decatur Newsstand again and Helyn owned it until she retired in 1995. Helyn spent a total of 34 years on the main street of Decatur doing what she enjoyed, serving the customers.

Most people will remember Helyn holding her camera and taking pictures of everything. She would generously share a copy of the pictures with whoever was in the picture and displayed pictures of town proudly in the front window of her business. Helyn was also involved in the Decatur Chamber of Commerce as secretary for many years.

Norma and Elmer Jackson quickly became friends when they moved to Decatur in the 1950’s and their families became close through the years. New Year’s Eve was spent at one home or the others for over 40 years. Ed and Joe thank the Jackson family for their friendship and kindness throughout the years.

Survivors are her sons, Edward (Sue) Hillyer of Sun City West, AZ, and Joe (Laura) Hillyer of Decatur, MI; her grandchildren, Heather (Mike) Zimmerman, Matthew Hillyer (Chris), Joshua Hillyer, and Michelle (Skyler) Schoff; her great grandchildren, Ava, Brayden, Skyla, Deegan, Jaxson, Novalynn, Serenity, and Theodore; her brother, Robert Radford of Clearwater, FL; and several nieces and nephews. Preceding her in death were her husband, Robert; her parents, Elmer and Mary Radford; her in-laws, Bert and Glema Hillyer; and several brothers and sisters-in-law.

The family will receive guests from 11am until time of celebration of life service at 1pm, Saturday, April 15, 2023 at Newell Chapel, 83313 M-51, Decatur. Burial to follow at Cuddeback Cemetery, Paw Paw. Memorial contributions may be given to Decatur Human Services, 102 S. Phelps St., Decatur, MI or the Decatur Athletic Booster Club, 110 Cedar St., Decatur, MI.

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