Obituary: Helen Louise Gray Sauvageau

Helen Louise Gray Sauvageau, over 100 years old, passed away Friday afternoon December 29. She left peacefully with the hospice chaplain singing a prayer psalm, her daughter holding her hand, and her long serving caregiver, Lyuda, in attendance.

Funeral Services were January 2 at Overman-Jones Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 15219 S. Joliet Rd., Plainfield. A private family burial followed at Plainfield Township Cemetery.

Helen is survived by her daughter, Sue; her niece, Helen (Dwight) Baker, their children Margaret and David; nephew, Jeffrey (Sue) Gray and their children Catherine and Megan. She leaves behind an army of friends, younger relatives, neighbors, her oldest friend Harriet Glasgow, her super caregiver Lyuda, and her frequent visitors and great helpers George, Jim, Alice, Mary, Pat, Nancy, Bunk, Melitha, Cathy, Rick, Susie…there are too many to name, but she cared deeply for all of you.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Howard and Margaret Gleason Gray, her sister, Margaret Martin and brother, Robert Gray; her former husband Vernie Sauvageau; significant friend, Ray Offerman; and her treasured son Stevan.

Helen’s 100 eventful years were celebrated March 25, 2017 in the activities room of the Plainfield Methodist Church with great help from the historical society, church members, and numerous friends and family. Hundreds attended, sharing cake and good memories.

She was born March 25, 1917 at home at the corner of Mill Street and Naperville Road to Margaret and Howard Gray. With her siblings she grew up on the Gray Farm; enjoying farm life and her beloved DuPage River. Helen attended Plainfield Schools and graduated from high school during the great depression. Cheap entertainment for those years meant attending dances. Helen danced a lot! She landed a job at the Plainfield Grain Company where she did office work and weighed loads of grain.

With the U.S. entry into WWII, the Navy opened its doors to women recruits. Helen signed on as a WAVE in January 1943, and trained at Hunter College in N.Y. and Memphis Tenn. She was stationed at Corpus Christi Texas where she fixed airplanes, and met and married a sailor from Minnesota named Vernie Sauvageau.

Except for her service time, Helen was a life resident of Plainfield. A birdwatcher, conservationist, church lady, Scout leader, Helen lead an active life, contributed to many local projects, and always advocated for those who needed it. She always enjoyed swimming, gardening, horseback riding, and many outdoor activities. Kids gathered at her home for skating, baseball and wading in the DuPage River. Many, in addition to her own, were hauled to swimming lessons, Boy Scout and Girl Scout camps and Methodist church activities.

Helen was active in the League of Women Voters. She was always civic minded and paid attention to politics throughout her long life.

For many years Helen did bookkeeping for Clegg’s Nursery and worked in Jones Hardware. She also served on the cemetery board. Helen was a founding member of the Plainfield Historical and for many years acted as a human encyclopedic resource on Plainfield places and personalities of the past. She has had an eventful run.

For more information please call 815/436-9221 or visit

For those who prefer, memorials in Helen’s honor may be made to: Defenders of Wildlife, 1130 17th St., Washington, DC 20036, National Audubon Society, 225 Varick St. 7th Floor, New York, NY 10014 or to any Veteran’s group would be appreciated.


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