Thursday, August 11, 2016
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Rupert, Durham, Marshall & Gren
409 South Main Street
Vicksburg, MI 49097
Friday, August 12, 2016
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM EDT
Prairie Baptist Church
11210 East PQ Ave
Scotts, MI 49088
Life Story / Obituary
She was born the third child of George & Alice Hayes with her next closest sibling being sixteen years older than herself. Her two brothers spoiled her and she grew up in Kalamazoo.
Helen’s dad died suddenly when she was only twelve which was a very difficult time for her. One of her fondest memories was that her sixth grade teacher sent her a card telling her how sorry she was about her dad.
Helen attended a one-room school house through the eighth grade and could remember sliding down the hill at Cork & Burdick during winter recess. Thankfully, there was no traffic in the 1930’s.
Helen worked in an office when she was thirteen and that was probably her first exposure to the kind of work she would later do. She graduated from Kalamazoo Central in 1937. She received some money as a gift that helped her enroll in Maher’s Business College. She grew up in the era where a secretary learned how to take short hand and typing fast could mean the difference between getting the job or not. Helen was on a 1939 college basketball team that won the title.
Helen went to Bethel Baptist Church as a young woman with several very close friends. This group of girls bicycled to Colon from Kalamazoo with twenty five cents between them which meant they could all get an ice cream cone for 5₵ a piece. They spent a night sleeping on straw mattresses in a cousin’s barn before riding back home. Roller skating was a big extra-curricular activity of the day. This is when she met her future husband. It was their first date and very serious stuff. The dress code was ladies in a skirt or dress and gentleman could only get into the rink if they were wearing a tie, which could be rented at the door. Real organ music and skating on a huge portable wooden floor covered by a tent with sides that could be rolled up if it was hot. Those were the days. It was the early 40’s and she remembered the Sunday the announcement came over the radio that Pearl Harbor was under attack. She and Tom were at his family’s farm.
They were married in 1942 with two of Helen’s closest friends standing up with her. The honeymoon took them to Lake Michigan. Tom worked as a hired man on a local farm until they could find a home of their own. That turned out to be a small place on State Road in Vicksburg where they lived until 1948. Tom and Helen bought their 40 acre farm in 1948 on S Avenue in Scotts. With their 3 year old daughter Diane, they set up homesteading. They raised hundreds of chickens and bought their first cow called Mary. Butchered chickens and eggs were sold at their day jobs and life went on. Tom also farmed at his father’s farm while Helen worked.
Family was important to them and Helen had strong memories of butchering on New Year’s Day for all the individual families and putting up food for the winter. Three more babies came, the first did not survive and then Nancy and David were born.
Farming, milking cows, making grape juice, giving extra garden produce to friends and neighbors, life was pretty busy.
Helen and Tom both worked at Rudes Manufacturing. She was a bookkeeper and did payroll while managing a family. The children became involved in 4-H and Helen became a leader on the county level and also taught sewing in the Scotts Club for many years. She enjoyed sharing her knowledge and helping the girls acquire a new skill.
Grandchildren started to be added to the family and it was not uncommon for several grandchildren at a time to be visiting the farm. They went for pony rides with grandpa and even helped him give rides for Bible School where Helen and Tom attended Prairie Baptist Church.
Tom passed away in 1995 and Helen remained at the farm for a few more years. She moved into an apartment in early 2000 where she fell and broke her neck which required a long recovery. Helen was a strong willed woman who was very determined.
In her later years she took to reading more because she could not embroider any longer. Helen lived with family for her last 5 ½ years. Her life had many ups and downs. She talked of the Lord taking care of her and watching over her very much the last few months. We loved her and will miss her being with us.
Helen was preceded in death by her parents and brothers, Claude and Paul Hayes. She is survived by two daughters: Diane Roellchen and Nancy (Daren) Nichols; also a son: David L. (Susan) Fritz; six grandchildren: Bradley M. (Lisa) Gibbs; Rodney L. (Kris) Gibbs; Abraham (Cori) Nichols; Bethany (Tim) Wylie; Jedidiah (Lindsay) Nichols; Moriah Grace (Steven) Bohjanen; Deborah (Todd) Bogardus; Daniel (LeAnn) Fritz.
She also has 18 great grandchildren and a much loved nephew, George (Margaret) Hayes, of AZ.
There will be a visitation for family and friends on Thursday from 4 to 7pm at Life Story Funeral Home, 409 S. Main, Vicksburg (269-649-1697). The funeral will be held on Friday at 11AM at Prairie Baptist Church, 11210 East PQ Ave, Scotts, with a visitation starting at 10AM until the time of the service. Interment will be at Mount Ever-Rest Memorial Park.
Please visit Helen’s webpage at www.lifestorynet.com where you can read her life story, sign the guestbook, and share a memory. Those who wish may make memorial contributions to Prairie Baptist Church or the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission.