Helen Essenhart

Inside Biography

Helen Essenhart is famous for being the spouse of Dick Butkus, the former American football player and sports commentator. She is also a dedicated and supportive partner who prefers a private life, concentrating on the upbringing of their three children. 

Tragically, Dick, her spouse, passed away on October 5, 2023, at the age of 80. To know more about Helen's early life, educational background,  career, etc, continue reading the article below.

Early Life And Educational Background

Helen was born in 1948 in Illinois, Chicago, United States. She currently resides in Malibu, California. Information about her parents, their professions, and her siblings remains a mystery as the celebrity widow hasn't disclosed anything about her family publicly.

However, the sources say that she completed her high school years at Chicago Vocational High School and graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor of arts in education. The other details about her academic life also remain disclosed.

Essenhart's Married Life

Helen and Dick shared a joyful and lasting marriage that spanned six decades. Following Dick's retirement from football in 1974 due to a knee injury, the couple relocated to Los Angeles and settled in Malibu, seeking a peaceful life away from the public eye

A portrait of Helen with her spouse, Dick Butkus. A portrait of Helen with her spouse, Dick Butkus.
SOURCE: Pinterest

.The celebrity widow has dedicated herself to supporting her husband's philanthropic works through the Butkus Foundation. She actively contributed to promoting health and well-being for both children and adults being a strong supporter of her husband. 

Read more: Witness The Beautiful Relationship Of American Football Player Joe Thomas And His Wife Annie Thomas Here!!


The couple, blessed with two sons Ricky and Matt, and a daughter Nikki each pursued distinct paths in life. Ricky, inspired by his father, pursued a football career at USC as a linebacker before transitioning to become a sports agent.

A picture of helen with her spouse Dick and their children Ricky, Matt and Nikki. A picture of Helen with her spouse Dick and their children Ricky, Matt and Nikki.
SOURCE: Pinterest

Matt, a former USC defensive lineman, chose a business career in real estate and finance. Nikki, who studied journalism at USC, became a reporter, producer, and author, writing a book titled Papa Bear: The Life and Legacy of George Halas. 

Helen, known for her affectionate nature as a mother and grandmother, cherished moments spent with her family. With a total of nine grandchildren Ryan, Jake, Luke, Cole, Max, Grace, Ava, Mia, and Leo, she found joy in family bonds and connections.

Interests And Hobbies

Essenhart cherished her privacy, prioritizing her family above all else. Devoted to her Catholic faith, she regularly attended church. A passionate animal lover, Essenhart welcomed several pets into her home over the years.

The celebrity widow possessed a unique ability to soothe her husband during moments of anger or frustration. Her culinary skills were evident in her love for cooking and baking, often delighting her family and friends. 

Sharing a passion for travel with her husband, they explored numerous countries worldwide. An enthusiastic reader, Helen immersed herself in biographies and historical novels. She also had a fondness for classic movies and musicals. Adding a personal touch to her home, she curated a collection of dolls on display.


Helen did not pursue a public career. She was a cheerleader during her high school.  However, she played a crucial role in her husband's achievements. Butkus was the third overall selection of the 1965 NFL Draft, taken by the Chicago Bears, and also in the second round of the 1965 AFL draft by the Denver Broncos of the American Football League.

After several days of recruiting by both the teams and leagues, his decision to sign with the Bears was viewed as a major victory for the NFL. Although the Bears offered him less money than the Broncos, playing for his hometown team and coach George Halas was more enticing.

A portrait of Helen with her spouse, Dick Butkus. A portrait of Helen with her spouse, Dick Butkus.
SOURCE: Pinterest

His rookie contract was worth $200,000. Along with fellow future Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (fourth overall), Butkus was one of three first-round picks for the Bears in that NFL draft. The pick they used for Butkus had been acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Serving as his greatest supporter and closest companion, Essenhart helped him in steering the trials of being an NFL star and the subsequent transition into retirement. Additionally, Helen steadfastly supported his ventures in acting and philanthropy, showcasing unwavering loyalty as a partner who stood by his side through all circumstances.

Death Of Helen's Husband And Legacy

Helen has suffered a loss as her husband, the NFL player Dick Butkus passed away on Thursday. He had an emergency at his residence, in Malibu, Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, he couldn't survive. He was 80 years old. The exact cause of Dick's death has not been revealed yet. Butkus, renowned for his career as a linebacker, played all nine seasons of his NFL career with the Chicago Bears, starting in 1965.

Essenhart's Net Worth

The celebrity widow hasn't a strong career to have a net worth. However, Dick, Helen's husband, possessed an estimated net worth of $18 million at the time of his passing.

The couple held various properties in both California and Illinois, with their Malibu residence alone being valued at $6 million. Despite her husband's financial success, Helen Essenhart is recognized for her private nature and absence of a public career.

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by Joseph, 08 Jan, 2024

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