Ronald Willis Helms

July 10, 2021

Ronald Willis Helms, the son of Herman Cecil and Dora Martha (Oliphant) Helms, was born Dec. 5, 1936, in Lincoln, Neb. Ron graduated from Cedar Rapids Franklin in 1955 and from the University of Iowa in 1960.

Ron was united in marriage with Marcy Myers Oct. 20, 1990, in Newton. He was a 50-year member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. Ron enjoyed sports car racing, traveling, golfing, hiking, canoeing, racket ball, rock climbing and skiing in Colorado. He was an avid Iowa Hawkeye fan and was part of multiple RAGBRAI events.

Ron worked at the Standard Oil Training Station in Des Moines in the early 1960s before joining Travelers Insurance. In 1968, he moved to Newton to join Insurance & Financial Services. Ron worked as a real estate agent in Newton for more than 30 years and founded both the Century 21 and RE/ MAX agencies.

Ron was founding member and chairman of Progress Industries, a non-profit organization that provides residential, employment and day habilitation services for people with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout central Iowa. Progress Industries has served as a model for other communities around the country. Ron was awarded the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce Key Award for his leadership on behalf of Progress Industries and the community.

Ron was longtime supporter of the YMCA and worked tirelessly on behalf of the YMCA foundation to support the operation. He also had served on the board of Kids Against Hunger, the United Way and the Newton Rotary.

Ron died Saturday, July 10, 2021, at MercyOne Newton Medical Center in Newton. He was 84 years old. Ron was preceded in death by his parents; his twin brother, Don; his sisters, Phyllis Storm and Nancy Loftsgard.

Those left to honor Ron’s memory include his wife, Marcy; his sons, Curt (Teresa) Helms, Tom (Pat) Wright and Joel (Leslie) Wright; his daughter, Nancy (Hans) Neumann; his grandchildren, Sydney Helms, Emily Helms, Haley (Levi) Thompson, Brandon Page, Alex (Hailey) Wright, Emma Wright, Kate Wright, Max Neumann, Spencer Neumann, Laura (Andrew) Kneib, Roger (Rita) Braun and Samantha (Steven) Weber; his great-grandchildren, Nataley Thompson, Vincent Kneib and Griffin Kneib; a sister, Julie Evans; and many nieces and nephews.

A visitation with the family will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, July 16 at the Pence-Reese Funeral Home in Newton. A funeral service will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 17 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Newton. A Facebook Live broadcast of the service will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 17 on the Pence-Reese Funeral Home and Cremation Services Facebook page. Memorials may be designated to Progress Industries, the Newton YMCA or a charity of your choice.