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Daniel White Helt died of cancer in his Mansfield, Conn., home on February 17th, surrounded by family and friends.

He was born in Clinton, Ind., in 1946, grew up in Dana, Ind.,  and graduated from South Vermillion High School in 1964, and from DePauw University in 1968. He received a J.D. from University of Michigan Law School in 1971, at which point began his life-long devotion to college football (Go Blue!).  In 1972 he returned to Vermillion County to practice law and was appointed a Clinton City Court judge in 1976.

Mr. Helt was an avid and brilliant bridge player, specializing in pre-emptive “three no-trump” bids.  He was a world-wanderer, enjoying tacky roadside attractions and tourist traps throughout the country, and UNESCO world heritage sites around the globe.  He loved history, political science, murder mysteries, gardening, and each and every episode of ‘F-Troop.’  He was known and loved for late-night political and philosophical debates.  Mr. Helt’s sense of humor was both endearing and outrageous, family members said, citing among other things, the Blue Barracuda joke.  He was utterly devoted to his family and friends.  He was loved for his humor, his grace and his kindness.  

In 2003 Mr. Helt moved to the East Coast to start his career as a professional grandfather.  He shared a home with his elder daughter, Molly Helt, son-in-law and best friend, Marc Baron, and two grandsons, Matty and Jackson Helt Baron of Mansfield, CT.  He is also survived by his younger daughter, Kelly Helt and her intended, David (Nigel)  Cracknell; his former wife and long-time friend, Mary Shea Helt; a sister, Mary Helt Gavin, and brother-in-law, Lawrence Gavin; one niece, Catherine Masarirambi (Rodney), one nephew, Michael Gavin (Alycia); and many cousins and close friends who loved him.  He will be sadly missed.

His family anticipates that numerous book and movie characters will be based on his life and that he will go on to become one of the most beloved figures in modern folklore.

A service is planned for 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Donations in his memory can be made to Autism Speaks.