Helen Boyle

May 27, 2023


Baltic: She was our North Star. Helmi Helen Laitila was born in the Copper Country of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and was raised from an early age in Baltic. She was a daughter of the late Elias and Helmi (Moilanen) Laitila and grew up with her two sisters, Karen and Barbara, and two brothers, Ed and Bill. She graduated with honors from Jeffers High School in Painesdale in 1954 and then attended Suomi College. She stayed in the dorm “Old Main” and worked at Nissila Greenhouses while attending college. She then joined the U.S. Air Force, which wasn’t common for a young woman of 18 in the 1950s.

It was in the Air Force that Helmi met her future husband. In a letter to her family she described John Boyle as “dreamy.” Their romance lasted for the rest of her life. After marrying in 1956, Helen and John transferred from the Pentagon to England. As young newlyweds they enjoyed simple pleasures such as watching the BBC while eating meals on their dinner table: an ironing board.

Helen retired from the Air Force and became a full time homemaker and mother to her three children born in quick succession: Rhennie, Johnny, and Josselyn were born in Naples, Italy where John was stationed. Imagine raising three young children and washing cloth diapers with no washer and a clothesline for a dryer.

In 1970 the family returned stateside to Maryland, then to Michigan. Overall, Helen masterminded 21 moves, domestic and international. The stop after Michigan was Dayton, Ohio, where Helen completed a Bachelor’s Degree in English at Wright State University, summa cum laude. Then onward to California, and finally, South Carolina.

Helen and John shared 66 years of devoted marriage. It was beautiful to witness their love and commitment, through good times and bad. Helen loved all children, and her four grandchildren brought much joy. She first welcomed her “ready-made” grandson, Scott, followed by Callum, Dominic and Miles. She enriched their lives with love, patience and lots of fun.

In later years, John’s dedication ensured Helen received the best of care. She had advanced dementia, complicated by Parkinson’s disease. In her last week she contracted Covid-19. In her weakened condition, Helen was unable to recover. This is a loss for anyone who knew and loved her. More than anything, Helen was known for her kindness and generosity to strangers, her undying loyalty to family, her ability to form deep friendships, and her warm and playful sense of humor that was evident even during her advanced dementia. Anyone who knew Helen loved her. And this love was always reciprocated. Always.

She is survived by her husband, John Boyle III; her siblings Karen Johnson, Barbara Berry, and Bill Laitila; daughters, Rhennie Boyle (husband Mike Adams is preceded in death), and Josselyn (Brad) Majors; her son, John (Grace) Boyle IV; grandchildren, Scott (Megane Laguerre) Tiscione, Callum Gill, Dominic Gill, and Miles Boyle. She was preceded in death by her parents and brother, Ed.

This obituary has been published by the O’Neill-Dennis Funeral Home in Hancock for Helen’s Copper Country family and friends. To leave online condolences, please go to

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