In Memory

Helen Cermak

Helen Cermak

Helen Ruth Andersen Cermak

January 29, 1945  ~ July 7, 2009

 

Helen R. Cermak, 64, Moorhead, died Tuesday in Eventide Lutheran Home, Moorhead, MN. Helen Cermak was a beloved wife, mother, friend, teacher, and woman. She will be remembered for her gifts as an artist and her deep compassion and love for her family and friends. Helen lived a life full of joy and shared herself openly and honestly with every person she met. Growing up on a farm in Missouri, Helen found her first calling in performing and teaching. She pursued undergraduate and graduate degrees in Literature, Education, and Theatre Art. She married Jim Cermak in 1969 in Kansas City, MO and they began their journey as life partners in love and theatre. After re-locating to Moorhead, MN, Helen was hired in the Speech and Drama Department now CSTA and became one of the programs most respected and honored instructors. Her work in the field of feminist theatre and women's studies created opportunities for many women within the theatre program as well as helping to create new thinkers and artists along the way. She was dedicated to nurturing every individual, she encountered, along their journey together.As a theatre director, Helen was immensely gifted in her collaborative work with students, designers, and artisans. Helen made choices to direct shows that illuminated the human condition; the struggles of the marginalized and the triumphs of the challenged. Her favorite works reflected her passion for telling stories of the voices less heard: the hardships of the Joad family in Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, the impact of AIDS in our world in Angels in America, and the sharing, collectivity, and community of women in the Shaker play As It Is In Heaven.To her students, Helen was a director, a teacher, a mentor, a friend, and an advocate. She put those around her first and championed the disenfranchised at every turn. Helen loved fiercely and was dedicated to her life's work and family. "When I first arrived at Concordia and got to know you, your gargantuan smile and broad arms made me feel safe enough to explore all the people I might become and the things I might do, all in the realm of the artist I was born to be. " Hugh Hanson"Helen, you gave me a gift that altered me. You handed me a sense of myself, a belief that the glimpse of something extraordinary that I sometimes noticed in myself was real. You let me know that I wasn't the only one who saw it. You drew it out. You made me show it off. What is especially amazing is that I am not the only person to whom you gave this gift. You have made every one of us better. Better actors, better directors, better designers and builders and stitchers and riggers. Better women and men, better mothers and fathers. Just better."  Carla Grover Barnhill Regarding her retirement, Helen said "One of the great things about theatre art is that it is cyclical. You have a beginning, and the process matures, grows and blossoms, coming to a full expansion. Then it closes and you move on to something else."Helen is survived by her husband Jim; a daughter, Amy Cermak, New York; a son, Jamie Cermak, Wisconsin; one brother, Dean Pat Andersen, Lebanon, MO; and two sisters, Ann Kenneth Gorman, St. Louis, MO and Evelyn Bob Russell, Lebanon, MO.

 

If you knew Helen and would like to place a kind memory here, please follow the instructions on this page (click on "post comment"). 

Mac McDaniel and Jan Klein, Site Administrators

 

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