In Memory

Michael Helding

Michael Helding

Residence at time of death:   Shenyang, China

Occupation:  Attorney/Teacher

Family:  Son Erik, who lives in Chicago

Circumstances of death:   Mike died of a heart ailment while working as an English teacher in Shenyang, China.

Mike's life:  He attended the University of Illinois Law School, where he was an outstanding student, winning an award as editor of the school journal in 1965.

After graduation he moved to Chicago, where he was a criminal defense attorney.   He was also active in Democratic party politics.  In the early 90's, Mike moved to Japan to teach English to Japanese students.   In 1992 he moved to China to teach English at the Dalian Light Industry University, which is near the manufacturing center of Shenyang.



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11/18/08 09:30 AM #1    

Michael Abelson

I knew Mike since first grade at Ravinia School. We were frequent playmates, cruised on our bikes and played sports together especially touch football. I always admired him, because he was a better athlete and had an older brother, Ky, to protect him on the playground. The playground at Ravinia School then was not for the small or weak, and I fell into both categories. Teasing seemed to be part of the outdoors curriculum, as were physical fights.

Mike introduced me to dixieland jazz, as he became a fairly accomplished trumpet and cornet player.

I was always surprised when I went to his house and found that he lived in a largely unheated room with his brother. I believe his sisters had better accomodations. His mother worked at the drug store in Ravinia and made great cookies which we often ate while playing in the nearby ravines. I have so many fond memories of Mike. Only wish I'd been able to say goodbye.

Mike Abelson

12/13/08 12:15 PM #2    

George Harmon

We lived a couple of blocks from each other in Ravinia and became fast friends in kindergarten or first grade. As Mr. Abelson says more eloquently, Mike always was lots of fun. Parents paid less attention to where the kids were, and we were free to roam the ravines and the beaches and to go to Shelton’s for sodas. One Good Friday when we were 9 or 10, we rode our bikes miles north to the all-day service at Trinity Church. Mike’s idea. I can imagine few parents letting us do that today. Nor can I imagine kids going to church voluntarily. (Again, it was Mike’s idea, not mine.) Last time I remember seeing him was on the street in the Loop; he was living in Bridgeport and practicing law with a fellow who later was the U.S. attorney here.

02/25/09 07:20 AM #3    

Alan Joyce

Mike, John Wolens, Bill Bruce, Don Wurm, Tom Clarkson, Jim Duffy, Walt Hurley, and I all played ice hockey in Wilmette during our Junior and Senior years. We used to play two and three games per week and shared the driving duties. During our senior year many of the above were on the winning team of the first Illinois State Amateur Championship. Mike was an excellent hockey player. During the early 70s Mike and I both lived in Chicago near the lake front. Mike enlisted my help in restoring an old wooden 48' sailboat. We sanded, caulked, varnished, and rerigged the boat for many weekends. When the boat yard attempted to step the mast it broke into several pieces thus ending our seafaring adventures. I lost track of Mike soon after but I'll always remember Mike for his determination on the ice, on the water, and for his law career.

Al Joyce

03/03/09 10:29 PM #4    

Joel Hochberger*

Mike and I were college roommates for two years. In college, he still loved skating (no more Hockey) and playing the coronet. To keep the sound down, I was amazed that he could play only the mouthpiece (without the actual coronet) and still make it sound really good! We lost touch shortly after he opened his one-man law office. He was lots of fun and always had an "angle". I miss him.

04/10/09 12:59 PM #5    

Sandra Grabell (Kite)

Mike and I were good friends during senior year of high school.

We did homework, rode our bikes, talked on the phone, and got into much trouble in the halls of HPHS.

I lost touch with Mike in 1961. There is so much I would have liked to have known about his life. I hope he was happy.

Two words come to mind when I think of those times with Mike..Respect and Laughter.


06/25/09 09:35 PM #6    

James Duffy

As a card carrying member of The Mob, I cannot reveal too much about Mike. The Code of Omerta (however it is spelled) forbids it -:)! I would probably be stripped of my London Fog trench coat.

What I can say most sincerely is he was a great guy and a very good friend.

Using today's vernacular, he and I "hung out" together a lot. Alan Joyce has talked about the hockey part of our friendship; an important facet of the relationship. Interestingly, in all the years I played hockey, Mike was one of the very few guys who challenged me to a fight (thanks be to God); happened at the Sunset Park rink and I must have really PO'd him. The fight did not take place. I talked him out of it and all the better for me I am sure.

As a hockey player, I remember Mike as imperturbable--set aside the above--in all situations...except one. In those days, we provided our own equipment and it was always in various states of repair/disrepair. In one game, Mike had a clear breakaway. As he raced down the ice with--as the rulebook characterizes a breakaway--no one between him and the goal except the goaltender, the back half of his right skate broke off causing his weight to shift backwards abruptly. His solo rush ended with him landing on his butt, waving his stick over his head like a tomahawk and shouting "Oh S***!" You would have to have been there to fully appreciate it. He was perturbed.

I remember only vaguely his musical ability and had no idea of his legal and political success. I, too, remember his Mom; although working at Gsell's in HP and making bacon rather than cookies.

We stayed in touch for a year or two after graduation playing hockey in Wilmette with the rest of the guys Alan mentioned. Then, we drifted apart. A loss I felt--and feel--when I learned of his passing.

I want to close the way I began by saying Mike was a great guy and a very good friend. I am sorry he left us so soon and wish him eternal peace.

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