Marquette University Alumni Association Alumni National Awards Weekend
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Arthur C. Helgerson, D.D.S., Arts ’65, Dent ’69
Karen J. Helgerson, Arts ’66, Grad ’68


Arthur and Karen HelgersonHe spent his career as an oral surgeon. She spent hers as a psychologist. Now the Helgersons, Arthur and Karen, spend their time together — volunteering.

As Arthur quipped to a younger partner upon announcing his retirement: “I’m retiring from the practice of oral surgery. I’m not retiring from life!”

Even before retirement, the Helgersons combined vocation and volunteering into lives that exemplify the Jesuit ideal of service to others.

After graduating from Marquette’s School of Dentistry, Arthur completed his residency training in oral and maxillofacial surgery in Chicago. He and Karen later settled in Appleton, Wis., where he practiced at several area hospitals, eventually serving as medical director of the Center for Craniomandibular Disorders at St. Elizabeth Hospital. Karen, meanwhile, worked as an organizational psychologist for Wisconsin Telephone and, later, Illinois Bell.

Arthur devoted his volunteer time to providing free dental treatment for the needy. Karen devoted hers to education, earning the Appleton Catholic Education System’s Servant Leadership Award.

Now retired in Florida, they’re considering a slate of worthy causes, including an oral surgery clinic in Kingston, Jamaica, and the Guadalupe Center, which assists the indigent and working poor with dental and medical issues, in Immokalee, Fla.

Both credit Marquette for planting the spark that ignited a lifetime of service.

“Karen and I are Jesuit Catholics,” Arthur says. “We think, we question and we learn. Without the Marquette experience, we’re sure our lives would have been quite different.”

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