The Heroines

Helen Mary Romeo

is honored with a Brick from Drs. Margaret Ann and Gene Hughes.

 Helen Mary Romeo Born: November 29, 1916
Died: March 6, 1983

Born in Wisconsin to Polish immigrant parents (Stephanie and Joseph Sadowski), Helen's early years were spent in the paper-mill town of Menasha, Wisconsin. After the death of her father, her mother moved Helen and her four siblings, two sisters and two brothers, to Milwaukee, where Helen lived for the rest of her life. Helen married Frank Anthony Romeo, Jr. in Milwaukee April 17, 1937.

Frank was the son of Italian immigrants, Margaret and Frank Romeo, Sr. His father came to America at age 16 and worked to earn enough money to send for his fiancee and two of his sisters to join him in Indiana, PA. Frank, Jr. was raised in Indiana, PA and then moved to Milwaukee and lived with his aunt while he attended Marquette University. He planned to become a lawyer. He was working part-time at Gimbel's department store when he met Helen who also worked there. They fell in love and wanted to marry but this was the Depression era; Frank decided to give up his law school plans in order to seek full time employment and enable him to marry and support Helen. Helen and Frank lived happily together until her untimely passing in 1983, never regretting his decision to leave college after completing his pre-law program. She was the love of his life.

Frank and Helen Romeo had four children: Robert Frank, born March 15, 1938; Margaret Ann (Cibik, Hughes), born July 28, 1940 (see Plaza of Heroines listing for Dr. Margaret Ann Hughes, wife of WSU's 11th President and WSU's First Lady from 1993 -1998); Carol Jean (Liebscher), born February 5, 1944; and Janet Marilyn (Slupski), born July 31, 1949.

Helen Romeo was full of life and had such a zest for living that she provided happiness to all those around her. She was the perennial PTA member, the constant booster at every event in which her children were participants, the ultimate Brownie and Girl Scout Leader, the card and game lover, and, the jokester.

She had a lifelong, almost child-like love for special events. She was the one with the brightest gleam in her eye and the loudest hands-clapping as she exploded with joy and enthusiasm for the Milwaukee Circus parade, the Fourth of July fireworks, every Green Bay Packer game, the Milwaukee Braves and Milwaukee Brewers baseball games. But the loudest applause and the brightest gleam and the biggest smiles were always for her children as she watched each one of them grow up and receive a variety of awards, as they each graduated from high school, college, and then succeed in their various chosen roles and careers.

The Romeo family was known by all for its special closeness and love for each other. And, Helen was the heart of that home, setting that example. But Helen's heart was broken when her first child, Bob, suffered a life-changing automobile accident at age 16. Bob survived a broken neck, but suffered its effects for his entire life. Bob's story is another one; he is a hero in and of himself. His drive and determination to not just 'survive' but to live a productive and generous life resulted in his being a role model for many.

Helen carried the pain of Bob's physical limitations, as well as the brunt of the workload required in his post-accident care, for her entire life. But she never complained nor viewed her labor of love as a burden. She always was extremely proud of Bob and all that he was able to accomplish, both before and after his accident ... as she was of each of her children. With loving 'disrespect' and humor, the entire family called Bob "King" because each one catered to his every whim and need; but, none could do so quite like his Mom, the unsung heroine.

She lived to see six of her eight grand children born. Coincidentally, or by design of a Higher Hand, her first great-granddaughter, Taylor Christine Kalmer, was born on March 6th, the anniversary date of her death. The circle of life. Helen's untimely death on March 6, 1983, at age 66, occurred while Frank and Helen were enjoying their annual vacation in Hawaii, their "paradise on earth."

Helen was loved beyond words ... beyond measure; to this day, every time they gather, the Romeo family members shed tears of love, joy, wonderful memories, and great loss. Helen Mary Sadowski Romeo ... an incredible woman ... an unsung true heroine of this world.

August 4, 1998