Omar Keith Helferich

Omar Keith Helferich age 89, born in Utica to Omar Kenneth and Kathryn Harriett passed away unexpectedly 03/28/24 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Omar was provided a Christian home, where he learned from his parents to live life with “Passion, Patience, and Perseverance” Omar Keith is survived by his wife Patricia Westveer, sister Harriet Smith, children: Karrie (John) Guarnaccia, Kathryn Helferich, Kimberly Helferich, and Omar Kirk (Jeannine) Helferich; step-children: Lorna (Paul) Vander Sluis, Michael (Bobbi) Kuyers, and Gina (David) Kuyers; grandchildren: Angela, Andrew (Megan), Anthony (Andrea), Alyssa (Chris), Aaron (Catie), Autumn, Chelsea, Chad, Naomi, Ellie, and Kayla; and step-grandchildren: Grace (Asa), Jack (Jenny), Madeline, Calvin (Tantzi), Michal (Matthew), Margot, Elliot, Peter, Gwyneth, Juliana, Alyssa, and Danielle. He was also blessed with nineteen great grandchildren. Omar was preceded in death by his sister Joyce Clark. While at Utica High school, Omar earned varsity letters in football, baseball, and basketball and developed a love for music as a member of the band. Omar Keith attended the University of Michigan graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, and Civil Environmental Engineering. Upon graduation in 1959 he was commissioned as a 2nd LT in the US Army Artillery Air Defense Missile program. Omar served one tour and then was in the active reserve through 1970 with an honorable discharge as a Captain. It was during this time that Omar was a nuclear radiation safety engineer for the US Atomic Energy Commission at Brookhaven National, and the Lawrence Radiation Lab; Coordinator of nuclear safety for the US nuclear burst testing program in the1960’s, and Westinghouse Atomic Power as a nuclear plant safety engineer. Omar Keith obtained an MBA from the University of Michigan in 1966 and Doctorate in business and supply chain management from Michigan State University in 1970. Upon graduation Omar became a supply chain consultant for Systems Research Inc. of Lansing, Michigan; then a partner with Cleveland Consulting Associates. In the 1980s Omar became CEO of Dialog Systems Inc. of East Lansing, Michigan, VP of AT Kearney Consultants, the Director of the MSU Supply Chain Outreach Program until 1998, and eventually VP of Integrated Strategies, Inc. an Okemos, Michigan based management consulting firm. From 2004 through 2017 Omar served as a professor for Central Michigan University, College of Business teaching, and conducting humanitarian projects. During this time, Omar devoted time as an American Red Cross disaster volunteer serving in leadership positions at the State and National Level. His disaster leadership assignments included the Mississippi Floods in the 1990s, Oklahoma Bombing in 1995, 9/11 World Trade Center – 2001, and hurricane events Katrina, and Ike. In retirement He continued his volunteer work to improve clean water and sanitation projects through Rotary International and Water@Work Ministry, working to ensure sustainable solutions to improve health, and poverty levels in Honduras, Dominican Republic, and Haiti. Omar took pride in organizing family gatherings, his favorite being an annual weeklong family vacation along the shores of Lake Michigan. Omar truly enjoyed ballroom dancing with his wife, Patricia, and counted amongst his favorite hobbies, sailing and racing his sailboat on Lake Michigan, earning top honors in many yacht races. The family will greet guests on Saturday, April 20, 2024, from 10:00 – 11:45 a.m. at Neland Church, 940 Neland Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49507. A celebration of Omar’s life will follow, and begin at 12:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, Omar has requested that contributions be made to the Kentwood Rotary Club or the Neland Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Arrangements are by the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel.

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7 Messages to “Omar Keith Helferich

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Amy Thorn
March 30, 2024 at 11:42 am

In memory of Keith Helferich, we honor a remarkable individual whose contributions to the supply chain industry and beyond have left an indelible mark. As we bid farewell, we cherish his legacy, knowing that his impact will endure through the Circle of Excellence Award, a testament to his visionary leadership co-founding it in 1993. Keith’s dedication to environmental stewardship, his unwavering support for underprivileged and underserved communities, and his intellectual prowess stand as enduring testaments to his character. Though he may have departed, his spirit lives on through the countless lives he touched and the lasting imprint he left on the world. Keith will be dearly missed, but his legacy will continue to inspire generations to come.

Norm Schleif
March 31, 2024 at 2:14 pm

Truly a great man and wonderful friend. Rest in peace. He will be missed for generations by friends and family.

Barbara ports
March 31, 2024 at 2:15 pm

Keith, to a wonderful brother in law, rest in peace

Tom Goldsby
April 1, 2024 at 10:35 am

Dr. Helferich was the distinction and class of any room in which he presided. I had the good fortune of getting to know him during my days at MSU and that connection continued through the decades of Supply Chain Leaders in Action engagement, where he was instrumental in encouraging industry leaders to leverage their skills and influence for the greater good. Keith will be missed immensely, but his legacy lives on.

Joe Veneklase
April 1, 2024 at 8:59 pm

What a full and incredible life! As a lapsed Kentwood Rotarian, I did not have the privilege of knowing him but his record of making lives better for others speaks for itself. He was certainly a man of action…and the world will miss his contributions as well as the Rotary. He is someone that deserves to rest in peace with few regrets.

Deborah M. Gray
April 3, 2024 at 5:05 pm

Dr. Helferich was an amazing colleague and made a distinct difference in the lives of Central Michigan University students and faculty. Dr. Helferich cared about the human condition and his life of service to others is a wonderful legacy. Until we meet again my friend….

Peter Kugel
April 3, 2024 at 8:40 pm

Godspeed, Omar. You will be missed


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