Helen Kapaun, wife of the late Eugene Kapaun and sister-in-law of the late Father Emil Kapaun, died last week in Wichita at age 86. Eugene died in 2010.
The couple was married in St. Mark, a small town near Colwich, and their wedding dance was held in Pilsen. They had a large family. Their first child was a baby when Father Kapaun went overseas as an army chaplain.
Pilsen Catholics got to know Helen when the couple began coming to Pilsen on special occasions honoring Father Kapaun and promoting his beatification. They credit Eugene and Helen for bringing Father Kapaun’s Medal of Honor to Pilsen.
“Before he died, Eugene instructed his family to give the Medal of Honor to Pilsen,” Harriet Bina said.
Their son, Raymond, represented his mother at the Medal of Honor ceremony in Washington, District of Columbia, in 2013.
“Helen was sort of a quiet person and really friendly,” Sylvia Bezdek said.
“She was a really kind lady and soft spoken,” Bina said.
When Bina attended the Rosary for Helen’s daughter Rosann, who was murdered in Wichita in 2007, Helen wanted to know her name.
“She was a sweet lady,” Bina said. “Eugene lived in his brother’s shadow and didn’t mind at all, and Helen was by his side all of the time.”
Rose Mary Neuwirth came to know Helen when she started working with the couple to create the statue of Father Kapaun with a wounded soldier, which was dedicated in 2001.
“Helen was quiet, and Eugene was the talker,” she said. “She called him down on his choice of words sometimes. She was the force behind her husband.”
Helen and her husband unrelentingly represented Father Kapaun and advocated for his beatification throughout their lives.
“Sometimes we forget the sacrifice that Eugene and Helen gave in order to attend all of the many, many award ceremonies, masses, medal presentations, dedications, plays, Father Kapaun Days in Pilsen, and many other functions representing the Kapaun family,” Harriet Bina said. “Declining health made them miss a few, but very few. Helen Kapaun had to miss a few of the Father Kapaun Days in Pilsen when she had her stroke.
But in June, she was here and had her picture taken with her family and the Medal of Honor. Father Kapaun Day will not be the same without Eugene and Helen.”