Cover photo for Helen Selma Henderson's Obituary
Helen Selma Henderson Profile Photo
1930 Helen 2020

Helen Selma Henderson

September 25, 1930 — November 6, 2020



September 25, 1930 – November 6, 2020


      Helen Selma (Longfors) Coats Henderson, age 90, of Park Rapids, MN, formerly of Osage, MN, passed peacefully from this life into eternal life on Friday, November 6, 2020 at the Heritage Living Center in Park Rapids, MN. Her loving nieces, Geraldine Christofferson and Karen Branstrom were there with her for care and comfort on the day of her passing.

      Helen was born at home in Toad Lake Township, MN on September 25, 1930 to John William (Bill) and Ida (Kinnunen) Longfors.  She became self-reliant at age 14, learning to sew and knit early in life.  Gardening and canning were a big part of her upbringing and she utilized those skills all through her life.  Helen learned English as a second language. In school, kids would get in trouble for speaking anything other than English. Helen always walked to school, no matter the weather.  Times were tough and women were not expected to complete school but Helen was determined to graduate.  She attended school at Shell Lake, Toad Lake, and was a graduate of Frazee High School in 1949. 

      Helen met and married Durwood “Woody” Coats in Seattle, WA while he was in the US Coast Guard.  The couple moved to Hawaii where Durwood was stationed with the USS Ironwood.  Upon his discharge, they moved to Moscow, Idaho while Durwood studied forestry at the University Of Idaho.  The happy couple called many places home including Oregon, California, and New York.  After Durwood’s passing in 1995, Helen then relocated to Park Rapids, MN.  She later met and married Archie Henderson and they resided in Osage, MN.

      Helen was enterprising, courageous, and fiercely independent.  She learned to be a mechanic with her 1972 Volkswagen squareback, changing the sparkplugs and diagnosing fuel pressure issues.  She gladly tackled carpentry projects and added a deck to more than one house.  In her 40s, Helen backpacked across the Sierra Nevada Mountains with her son Aarne, niece Leslie, and another boy, Steve.  It was 30 miles each way with a summit of 11,000 feet at Goodale Pass and another at 10, 800 feet above Mammoth Lakes CA.  Helen really wanted to live until 90 since she would be the first of all her known relatives to achieve this.

      Helen is survived by her two sons: Frank “Bob” (Carla) Coats of West Deptford, New Jersey, and Aarne (Cindy) Coats of Lone Pine, CA; seven grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren; and her sister, Verniel (Robert) Yliniemi Latto of Anchorage, AK.

      She is preceded in death by her parents; sisters: Elsie Longfors, Violet Yliniemi, Mildred Gray, and Lila Yliniemi; brother, Arlie; step-father, Joe Yliniemi; husband, Durwood Coats; husband, Archie Henderson; and two daughters: Helmi Coats, and LaDessa Coats Chief.

      Graveside services will be held at 2 PM, Friday November 13, 2020 at the Snellman Cemetery, Snellman, MN with Pastor Bill Knaack officiating.


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Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Friday, November 13, 2020

Starts at 2:00 pm (Central time)

Snellman Cemetery

, Snellman, MN 56570

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