Helen Elizabeth Hanifen, 92, died August 7, 2019 after suffering a heart attack last week. Visitation will be held Friday evening, August 9 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Hamilton’s on Westown Parkway, 3601 Westown Parkway in West Des Moines and the memorial service on Saturday, August 10 at 10:00 a.m. at Faith Lutheran Church, 10395 University Ave. in Clive, IA. Burial will be at Resthaven Cemetery.

Helen was born on January 12, 1927 in Whittemore, IA to Julius and Regina (Lehman) Baas. She graduated from Algona High School and then from Iowa Lutheran School of Nursing in Des Moines, IA in the spring of 1946. Helen married James E. Hanifen, Jr. in September of 1948, they would have celebrated 71 years together next month. The couple lived in West Des Moines for 65 years of their marriage.

Helen was a nurse at Iowa Lutheran Hospital and retired as a Supervisor in the Mental Health Department after 44 years. She was instrumental in the development of the adult, adolescent and preadolescent departments. Helen was also a long-time member of the Iowa Lutheran Retirees Group.

After retirement, Helen worked part-time at Hanifen Company with her husband and volunteered at the Botanical Center. She enjoyed tending her flowers and gardens, hiking, and camping. She traveled to all 50 states and various countries around the world. Helen also participated in the Women’s Health Initiative at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA from the early 90’s to the present.

She was preceded in death by her daughter, Susan Hanifen. Helen is survived by her husband, James Hanifen, Jr.; her son, James (Linda) E. Hanifen, III of Johnston, IA; daughters, Rosemary (Samuel) Watters of Orange, TX and Julie (Collin Allen) Hanifen of Ankeny, IA; 10 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Helen’s favorite charities, Habitat for Humanity or Paper for Water. Condolences may be expressed online at

Service Details

Friday, August 9, 2019
5:00 to 7:00 pm
Hamilton's on Westown Parkway
3601 Westown Parkway
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266
Saturday, August 10, 2019
10:00 am
Faith Lutheran Church
10395 University Avenue
Clive, Iowa 50325
Private Burial of Cremated Remains
Resthaven Cemetery
West Des Moines, Iowa
Hamilton's on Westown Parkway
3601 Westown Parkway
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266
(515) 224-0078

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