Willard "Skip" B. Hellwig
KNOX — Willard “Skip” B. Hellwig, a man of few words who loved woodworking and electricity, died on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, at Albany Medical Center, following a sudden illness. He was 70.
Mr. Hellwig was born on Nov. 24, 1943, in Albany, the son of Willard B. and Ella Marjorie (née Kelley) Hellwig, Sr.
He graduated from Colonie High School in 1962, and enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1963.
He served his country until 1965, when he was honorably discharged. Mr. Hellwig’s wife, Marilyn (née Nordstrom) Hellwig, said that, during his time in the Air Force, he was sent to the Belgian Congo to help get Albert Schweitzer — a medical missionary in Africa — out safely.
After being discharged from the Air Force, Mr. Hellwig attended classes at Hudson Valley Community College.
He married his wife on June 22, 1968.
He worked, for 39 years, as an electrical technician and then a power-plant operator for General Electric, in Selkirk.
“He loved working at the power plant,” said Mrs. Hellwig. “His coworkers called him ‘Cowboy’ because he would do all the things everyone else was afraid to do, for fear of blowing up the plant.”
Mr. Hellwig was heavily involved in the Schoharie Valley Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Central Bridge, where he served as Bishop for a time.
It was while he was serving as bishop that Tropical Storm Irene blew through Schoharie, and, Mrs. Hellwig said, he helped get a shipment of clothes and food sent from Salt Lake City, Utah, to the church. He later helped distribute the goods throughout the community.
He also led 300 volunteers, through Mormon Helping Hands, to help rebuild Schoharie after the flood.
“He had a commitment to the church and wanted to live up to the promises he made,” said Mrs. Hellwig.
One of Mr. Hellwig’s favorite pastimes was woodworking.
“He loved to split wood,” said his wife. “He’d split wood for us, he’d split wood for his friends, just because he liked doing it.”
She described sitting peacefully in the forest with her husband, on a log, watching the fall leaves change, before he powered up the chainsaw to split some more wood.
Mr. and Mrs. Hellwig worked together to build one piece of wooden furniture for each child, given to them as wedding gifts.
Mr. Hellwig also enjoyed photography, collecting clocks, family history, his John Deere tractor, motorcycles, road trips, and anything to do with space.
“You could say he was a bit of a Star Trek fan,” Mrs. Hellwig said.
His special love, though, later in life, was his grandchildren.
“They were just drawn to him,” said Mrs. Hellwig. “They softened his heart, and he doted on them.”
In addition to his wife, Mr. Hellwig is survived by his children, Willard J. Hellwig, and his wife, Stacey Jo, of South Jordan, Utah, Eric M. Hellwig, and his wife, Lisa K., of Knox, Angela J. Hellwig-Kuhne, and her husband, Darrell, of Middletown, Conn., and Amanda S. Vallejos, and her husband, Fernando, of Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada; his grandchildren, Alexis, Hailey, Matthew, Skyler, Natalya, Saige, Gabriel, Ethan, and Logan; his sister, Marjorie Stevens, and her husband, Minor, of Knox; and many nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews.
His parents died before him, as did his infant daughter, Thera J.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Church Street, Central Bridge, where a viewing will also begin at 9 a.m. Interment will be in Memory Gardens Cemetery, Colonie. Arrangements are by the Langan Funeral Home, of Central Bridge.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Schoharie Valley Ward, Humanitarian Aid Fund, custody of Bishop Rafael Antillon, 215 Pannis Road, Delanson, NY 12053.
— Anne Hayden Harwood