Photography

Robert B. Helsel

September 3, 2021

Obituary

Helsel, Robert B. “Bob”, 86, of Johnstown, went to Heaven on September 3, 2021, at Laurel View Village, Davidsville. Born November 7, 1934, in Johnstown, the son of Aubrey “Bob” Helsel and Bertha (Wolford), Stepson of Clarence “Kipe” Keiper. Preceded in death by parents, loving wife of 53 years, Beverly (Holsopple) and infant daughter, Beth. Survived by daughter Bryn and grandson Tyler McKay, and daughter Kelly (Lloyd) and granddaughter, Olivia Rager. Brother of Barbara Mangus, Step-brother of Clarence Keiper, Lida Rose Prestipino, Joan Leary, and Half-brother Kurt Keiper. Bob lost his father at the age of 14 and immediately went to work to provide for his mother and sister. He worked at The Embassy Theatre, Karmelkorn, Florsheim Shoes, and at his Uncle Dwight's market in Moxham. He also made milk deliveries and picked strawberries for 25 cents a day. Bob graduated from Johnstown High School in 1953. He liked to say he wasn't the dumbest kid in the class, but he was next to last. (We're not sure of this!) He also marched with the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps. Later he was a buyer for Bethlehem Steel and then became a shoe salesman for the Mishawaka Rubber Company. Several times he was the top salesman in the nation and earned cruises to Bermuda and the Bahamas. While selling Red Ball Jets sneakers, Bob convinced his bosses to invest in some television commercials. He pitched the idea for an astronaut named Commander Jet whose shoes could make kids run faster and jump higher. They loved the idea so much that they asked him to star in the commercials. Bob was a born salesman! In the late 60's, Bob left the shoe business to join forces with Fred Fox who owned the LeMans Corporation. He traveled the country selling LeMans products as well as Arctic Cat snowmobiles. Along the way he met many celebrities such as Mohammed Ali, Evil Knievel, and Hubert Humphrey. By 1974, Bob had grown tired of making others rich (his words!) so he opened his own motorcycle and snowmobile parts store. This was the beginning of several stores known as The Outhouse. Over the years, The Outhouse morphed into a party goods store and spawned the Bel-Aire Bridals wedding shop. In his spare time, Bob started a local newspaper known as The Dollar Saver Shopper for which he wrote a column called "Just Sittin' in The Outhouse Thinkin' “.  Bob was also the founder and first president of the East Hills Business Association. Bob served on the School Board of the Greater Johnstown Vocational/Technical School and along with his wife was a Richland School Board director for many years. Bob and Beverly were the first married couple in the state to serve at the same time on a school board. It should be noted that at the time Beverly was a Democrat and Bob a Republican. One can imagine the lively dinner table discussions! Bob served as chairperson for the Richland Sesquicentennial Parade and as a Band Booster for the Richland Marching Rams. He was instrumental in establishing the first Richland Post Prom Party in 1977. Bob was a member of the Salix Bethel United Methodist Church and a former member of the Homestead Avenue U.M. Church and Bethany U.M. Church where he was a lay speaker, a Trustee, and a Sunday School teacher. Bob will be remembered as a loving husband, father and grandfather, as well as a generous contributor to his community. Bob always liked to say, "I am here to serve." Rest in Peace, Dad. Relatives and friends received from 1 pm to 2 pm Sunday at Harris Funeral Home, 500 Cherry Lane, Richland where a Celebration of Life will be held at 2 pm. Private interment at Berkey Cemetery. All who knew and loved Bob are invited to come and share a story or two. (Online condolences may be posted to www.wharrisfuneralhome.com)

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Services

Visitation
Sunday
September 5, 2021

1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Harris Funeral Home
500 Cherry Lane
Johnstown, PA 15904

Celebration of Life
Sunday
September 5, 2021

2:00 PM
Harris Funeral Home
500 Cherry Lane
Johnstown, PA 15904

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