Cover photo for Helen Wheeler Achenbach's Obituary
Helen Wheeler Achenbach Profile Photo

Helen Wheeler Achenbach

September 21, 1923 — August 18, 2023

Elm City, NC

Helen Wheeler Achenbach

Helen Elizabeth Wheeler Achenbach, 99, passed away on Friday, August 18.  A special Celebration of Life will be held on Thursday, September 21 on Helen’s 100th birthday.


Helen was born and raised in Pittsburgh and, as such, she bled black and gold, being an avid fan of the Steelers and Pirates.  She attended Columbia Union College in Maryland where she met and fell in love with her husband, Orison.  On April 13, 1958, they were married in Silver Spring, MD.  While she was in Maryland, Helen worked for the Government and the General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists.  Their daughter, Sonja was born in Tacoma Park, MD.  They returned to Pen Argyl, PA in 1963, the childhood home of Orison, where they lived until the early 2000’s.  While there, they worked at Harris Pine Mills, Garden State Academy, and a local doctor’s office.  During their time in Pennsylvania, they had two more daughters, Andrea and Cindy.  Helen retired in 1995.  Shortly thereafter, they built their dream home in Greenville, TN.  In 2011, they sold their house and put down roots in Elm City, NC and enjoyed extended visits with Andrea and Cindy in North Dakota, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Florida and Pennsylvania. 


After moving to Wilson, they joined the First Wilson SDA Church where they enjoyed many potlucks and fellowship with their church family.  Helen had a love for animals as far back as her chihuahua, Ricky, which she had while in college.  She also loved feeding lunch and giving treats to the horses on Sonja’s farm.  Helen loved her flowers and birds, especially the peacock, Pete.  Helen was also an avid reader of many genres, always interested in learning more.  She enjoyed playing board games, especially word games such as Scrabble, a tradition that has carried on through her children and grandchildren.


She loved her husband, Orison more than anything.  Even after his passing in December 2018, she still spoke of him often and the memories they made together during their sixty years of marriage.  She loved her family and friends and will be loved and missed dearly by everyone who knew her.


Helen is survived by her daughters, Sonja S. Duke and life partner, Lee, Andrea Nelson and husband, Keith, and Cindy Ashburn and husband, Jim; grandson, Ryan Nelson; granddaughters, Kari Manu, Amanda Renslow, and Hannah Ashburn; and great-granddaughter, Rinna Nelson; nephew, Jonathan Wheeler; nieces, Judith Wheeler Ashley and Rachel Wheeler Jones; and special, life-long friend, Eleanor Smart.


Helen was preceded in death by her husband, Orison Elmer Achenbach; parents, Arthur and Ida Wheeler; and three brothers.


Condolences directed to Joyner’s Funeral Home and Crematory at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Helen Wheeler Achenbach, please visit our flower store.


Visits: 716

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree