Community Remembers Local Architect Dan Helwig

Helwig working on the arch at Christ Lutheran Church in Marshfield.

Helwig Remembered for Passion and Kindness

By Breanna Butler – On Saturday, September 2, hundreds of people congregated at Christ Lutheran Church in Marshfield to remember local architect Daniel J. Helwig, 66, who passed away on Sunday, August 27, 2017 while working at his lake home in Mikana, WI.

Known for his kind smile and endless patience, Helwig is responsible for many beautiful buildings throughout the Marshfield community, and beyond. A graduate of UW-Milwaukee School of Architecture, Helwig and wife, Sharon, moved to Marshfield in the late 1970’s, where Helwig began his career with The Boson Co before opening his own architecture firm, Design Unlimited, in 1984.

With a strong passion for designing homes and commercial buildings throughout the community, Helwig contributed his talents to many projects, including Wildwood Park, Jack Hackman Field, Prevention Genetics, Prairie Run Dental, Robert Kay Orthodontics, Dental Clinic of Marshfield, Abby Banks, Time Federal Savings Banks, Forward Financial Bank’s current office, First Presbyterian & Christ Lutheran Churches, and many beautiful homes.

“My experience with Dan has been that he always brought a positive energy to the projects he was working on and had very creative ideas,” said City of Marshfield Public Works Director Dan Knoeck, with whom Helwig worked on several projects. “I really enjoyed working with him over the years and will miss his involvement in local projects.”

“Dan was a wonderful man to work with. He was very easy to talk to,” said Kathy Dierickx, store manager at St Vincent de Paul. “He seemed excited to do the revamp of our new building. He made our world a more beautiful place to be in. Our building looks so nice and different because of his ideas and his work. These are all things that happened because he had a vision.”

Helwig presenting MAPS blueprints at pet shelter dinner.

Not only did Helwig shape the landscape of Marshfield with his buildings, he also made a positive impact on many local nonprofit organizations.

“Dan Helwig leaves a legacy of beautiful buildings that embody Marshfield’s character,” added Library Director Lori Belongia. “More importantly, he leaves a legacy as a community builder with his involvement in important projects and causes.”

One such project was the Marshfield Area Pet Shelter facility, which is scheduled for construction in 2019, and which Helwig helped design.

“Dan was one of the nicest people we ever had the pleasure of meeting. When we went to Dan in the fall of 2013 about designing our new building, he immediately jumped in and wanted to help. He loaded up five of our volunteers into his vehicle and we all headed to the Humane Society of Portage County to tour their facility,” said MAPS President Karen Rau. “Dan talked with the staff and the vice president of the board, took pictures and asked for blueprints of their facility to study. He was truly vested in our project and up for the challenge of building his first animal shelter. The end result was a beautiful concept rendering of our future facility.”

John Nystrom, Director of Marshfield Clinic Health Systems YMCA, which is currently undergoing construction of an expansion, also had kind words to say about Helwig.

“Dan was part of our strategic planning team that was tasked with developing a business plan to provide services for children and families in our area. He helped bring a visual presence to what collaborations with likeminded organizations could look like, while addressing community needs,” he said. “Dan created the visual materials that helped us launch a successful capital campaign. He was a person with great vision and wanted to help create the best possible community in which to raise a family.”

“We will forever treasure our time with Dan, his warm smile, kind heart and generous spirit,” added Rau. “His legacy will live on within the hallways at the future Marshfield Area Pet Shelter and through the many lives he helped us save. We are forever grateful, but saddened by the loss of our friend.”

As the Marshfield community mourns the loss of a truly exceptional individual, Helwig’s memory will live on through the many beautiful structures he leaves behind. Rest in Peace, Dan.

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