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Columbia Missourian

Helen McLaughlin put her country and family first

By Kholood Eid
August 15, 2012 | 8:40 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — In 1945, class valedictorian Helen McLaughlin turned down a college scholarship so she could work in a shoe factory during World War II.

"Back in 1945, the war was such a strong rallying point for her generation," her son, Tim McLaughlin, said. "It was just the right thing to do, and she felt like that was her calling."


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Helen Ruth McLaughlin died on on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012. She was 84.

She was born on Nov. 18, 1927, in Ilasco to John and Lena Konko.

She married R. Wayne McLaughlin in 1951.

Her brother was in the Navy during the war and while he was abroad, Mrs. McLaughlin stayed in her hometown making shoes and boots for the servicemen instead of pursuing a higher education.

For 33 years, Mrs. McLaughlin worked as a photo lab technician for Today's Farmer Magazine, an agricultural publication by MFA Inc. She retired in 1987, spending the years traveling — and dancing — with her husband. The couple joined a dance club called "Saturday Nighters" where they indulged in their passion to dance.

In more recent years, Mrs. McLaughlin became a familiar face around the Columbia community as she enjoyed daily walks along Forum Boulevard.

She was also a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. 

“A woman of very strong faith, which I think was important to her all her life,” Tim McLaughlin said.

Mrs. McLaughlin is survived by her son, Tim McLaughlin and his wife, Yvonne; her daughter, Cindy McLaughlin; and two grandsons, Ryan and Brendan McLaughlin, all of Columbia.  

Her husband, R. Wayne McLaughlin; and her brother, John Konko, died earlier.

A visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W. Services will be held at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the funeral home. Entombment will follow in Memorial Park Cemetery.

Memorial contributions can be made to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 903 Bernadette Drive, Columbia, MO 65203.

Tributes can be posted at

Supervising editor is Celia Darrough.