Florence Lattimer Helwig

helwigFlorence Lattimer Helwig passed away peacefully at her Indiana home on Sunday, October 11, 2015.

Born June 3, 1919 in Punxsutawney, PA, Florence was the youngest of three children born to Harry R. & Ethel Gourley Lattimer.

Known to her besties as F.E., she was a graduate of Punxsutawney Area High School Class of 1937. Reminiscing about her heritage was a passion of F.E.’s and she recounted in great detail childhood experiences and stories of her parents and their successful Cold Spring 7 Up Bottling Company. Throughout her life, F.E. relentlessly ordered 7 Up wherever she went, steadfastly refused any competitor’s soft drink and explained to all her loyalty to 7 UP.

She began a 23 year banking career as a teller at the Punxsutawney National Bank and participated in the initial charter of the First National Bank of Ft. Pierce, FL, from which she retired as a vice president. She was also an officer of the Wilfred E. Helwig Agency.

In 1971, Indiana became home to F.E. upon her marriage to Wilfred E. Helwig. She energetically involved herself in countless philanthropic works in the Indiana, Punxsutawney and Ft. Lauderdale communities. She was named as one of Indiana County’s most notable women by the American Association of University Women. She received numerous accolades over the years, including the Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s President’s Medal of Distinction, (IUP’S highest non-degree honor), The American Cancer Society’s Excalibur Award, which reflected her extraordinary commitment to making a positive impact in her community, the Distinguished Patron of the Performing Arts Award from the Indiana Symphony Society, and the Community Service Award from the Daughters of the American Revolution, recognizing her benevolence toward cultural achievements in the Indiana and Punxsutawney areas. WQED also honored her with the Vita award, which is its highest award given to patrons of the arts.

In 2001 she endowed a gift to the Punxsutawney Area Historical and Genealogical Society for the purchase of The Lattimer House in Punxsutawney in memory of her parents.

Florence was a Life Board member of the Indiana County Chapter of the American Red Cross, a lifetime member and past volunteer of the Indiana Regional Medical Center Auxiliary, the Indiana County Historical Society (past board member) and the Punxsutawney Area Historical Society. She was an ardent supporter of the YMCA, Four Footed Friends, the Indiana County Humane Society, the Indiana Arts Council, The Indiana Players, The Salvation Army, The American Cancer Society, The Indiana County Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Ft. Lauderdale Symphony Society and the Opera Society of Ft. Lauderdale. She tirelessly chaired the Indiana Symphony Society’s fundraising efforts for many years, including its many galas and fashion shows. She was a member of the Indiana Country Club, the Punxsutawney Country Club, Lago Mar Resort and Beach Club in Ft. Lauderdale and the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels.

Florence established the Helwig Distinguished Artist Endowment at IUP in 1987 in memory of her late husband, Wilfred. To date, seventeen artists have graced the Fisher Auditorium Stage, including Itzhak Perlman, Richard Stoltzman, Hal Holbrook, Andre Watts, Brian Bedford, Dave Brubeck, Dame Cleo Laine and Sir John Dankworth, Doc Severinsen, Chita Rivera, Billy Taylor, Peter Nero, Rosemary Clooney, Olivia Newton-John, Roger Williams, Amy Grant, Marvin Hamlisch and Bernadette Peters.

Florence was preceded in death by her parents, sister Elizabeth Lattimer Bastian, brother J. Wilbur Lattimer, husband David Brown Bidwell, husband Wilfred E. Helwig and dear friend Robert O. Warren.

She is survived by her son, David Lattimer Bidwell, and his wife, Patricia, granddaughter Caitlin Lattimer Bidwell, grandson Jeffrey Jason Perkins, his fiancée Victoria Michael, children Jadyn and Kaia, and long-time friend Barbara Brocious. Also surviving are nieces Linda Parsons, husband Michael, Kathleen Fulmer, husband Samuel, nephew James W Lattimer II, wife Alice, and many great-nieces and great-nephews.

Florence was a member of St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Punxsutawney.

Friends will be received from 1-3 pm and 6-8 pm on Thursday, October 15, 2015 at the Rairigh-Bence Funeral Home, Indiana. Additional visitation will be held on Friday from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. at Grace United Methodist Church, Indiana followed by her service at 10 a.m.at Grace United Methodist Church. Reverend Gene Beezer of Santee, CA will officiate. Entombment will be private in the Oakland Cemetery, Indiana.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Four Footed Friends and The Indiana County Humane Society.

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