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1985 Michigan Cup Master Champ Helga Hoover passes away

Fri, Apr  25, 2014 - By Christina Tabaczka-Hover

Helga C. Hover, 88, passed away on April 14, 2014 in Ann Arbor, MI. She was born March 15, 1926 in Kassel, Germany to Jutta and Heinrich Friedrich. On March 27, 1949, she married Gerald L. Hover, also of Ann Arbor, who preceded her in death on August 13, 2012. Helga lived an amazing, varied, full, rewarding and astonishing life. She was a daughter, sister, mother, dancer, actress, volunteer, cancer survivor, and athlete. The first phase of her life was spent in pre World War II Germany in Kassel, at the age of 16 she entered a theater conservatory at the State Theater in her home town focusing primarily on ballet, but also acting and singing. She and her mother and sister survived multiple bombings of Kassel while her father was away at war. In 1945, she was employed by the American Special Services to entertain the American troops during the occupation of Germany, including officers club. It was in one of these officer clubs in Bad Wildungen that she met her future husband, American Army Captain Gerald Hover, a Field Artillery Liaison Pilot.

Helga HooverHelga arrived in the US on New Year’s Eve 1948 and married Gerald a few months later. This began the next phase of her life, wife and mother but beyond this, as an actor and dancer in amateur theater; she also helped with costumes and management of amateur and professional theater companies in Ann Arbor. She had the opportunity to work with stars such as Dana Andrews, Rosemary Harris, Gloria Swanson, Jimmy Stewart and Helen Hayes. In both Saginaw and with Ann Arbor Civic Theater (AACT), she appeared in dozens of plays and musicals, perhaps most famously as the back end of the cow in “Gypsy” (twice!). She was also a dedicated volunteer when AACT purchased their first building on W. Washington Street, helping install some of the flooring while Gerald helped with the electrical installation. Her final stage performance was in 2003 in “Follies” staged in celebration of the Michigan Theater’s 75th anniversary. In addition to the shared experience of theater, the Hover family travelled extensively in the United States and Canada, primarily camping and also wilderness canoe camping.

When Helga turned 50, she entered another phase-a competitive athlete. She began running and cross country skiing, and entered many races in Michigan, the Midwest and Canada. In skiing, she entered races up to 50K, and in running up to a half marathon (13.1 miles); she was most proud of being the 1985 Michigan Cup Cross Country Ski Racing Series masters champion. Helga also did bicycle touring, downhill skiing, canoeing and white water kayaking, and belonged to the Washtenaw Ski Touring Club, the Ann Arbor Ski Club (AASC), the Ann Arbor Track Club and biking, kayaking, canoeing groups. She also travelled to many Western downhill ski resorts with the AASC including Aspen, Sun Valley, Banff and Whistler. Her daughter Chris also fondly remembers Helga’s trip to Big Sky, Montana where Chris and her then husband Ron owned a condominium.

Helga's car could often be found packed to the ceiling with all the endurance gear she thought seh might need!

Later in life, she and Gerald entered another phase, especially after Gerald retired from the VA Hospital in 1985, that of volunteers extraordinaire. She was an active usher for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, University Musical Society, U of M School of Music, Theater and Dance, and AACT. Helga was an active supporter and enthusiastic audience member for cultural organizations in Detroit in Ann Arbor including theater, opera, ballet, and types of dance. The organization dearest to Helga’s heart was the Michigan Theater Foundation where she volunteered for 20 plus years, mostly staffing the member service desk which the theater staff still affectionately refers to as “Helga’s Store”. Helga was a theater Board member and supporter through much of the restoration phases of the theater in the 80s and 90s and helped celebrate the 75th anniversary of the theater in 2002/2003. When Helga was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1998, and had a reoccurrence 6 years later, Helga stated “through both of these difficult times, the lovely folks at the Michigan Theater-the staff, the Board and many of the customers that come to the theater every day- took care of me, loved me and treated me, quite literally as family”. Helga later had 2 more reoccurrences of cancer both of which she survived.

Helga is survived by her daughters Dr. Victoria Hover of Ypsilanti/Lafayette, Louisiana and Christina Tabaczka of Ann Arbor, niece Alexandrine Aulepp (Michael) of Buedingen Germany, nephew Ernst Jahn (Christine) of Wiesbaden Germany, and grand nephews Christian and Moritz Aulepp. A celebration of Helga’s life will be held at the Michigan Theater on June 21, 2014 at 11:00am. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Helga’s name to the Michigan Theater Foundation, 603 East Liberty, Ann Arbor, MI 48014. All of those who knew and loved Helga are invited to share memories and photos on her facebook page