Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Aunt Helena

With gentle time-worn grandmother arms she welcomed me into the family. The first time I met Dean's Great Aunt Helena she had just purchased herself a brand spanking new Macintosh computer.

Being that Aunt Helena was around seventy years old at the time, and the Mac was new to the world...I was instantly intrigued by her brave advance into technology.

Helena Dorothea Daniels Brown Watson born in 1915, passed away this summer at the very young age of 96. Funeral services for this remarkable woman were held just a few short blocks from where she was born and where she lived most of her life. After introductions to some of Aunt Helena's family the day of the funeral, I found it illuminating to see just how much my immediate family resembled Helena's...

from the red hair to the thousands of freckles! But it wasn't just the physical characteristics that were similar, there was the gardening, love of learning and literature, work ethic, and family values. 

Aunt Helena was the seventh and last child born to parents Jethro and Emma in the old rock house on Farr West Drive. Her parents instilled in her the value of hard work, importance of education, and resilience in adversity. After moving away from home for the first time in her young adulthood, Helena met the love of her life...Odell.

Helena and Odell were living the American dream raising five daughters and twin sons, when tragedy struck. Helena's husband whom she affectionately called "her Watsoni" passed away from leukemia...a "downwinder". Catastrophe often defines a person whether for good or bad. In Helena's case...true character emerged. 

While raising seven children as a single mother, Helena earned a bachelors degree, a masters degree, and became the only woman Principal in the county. Character and strength...I tell you! In her spare time...she gardened, studied genealogy, and wrote poetry. Her career as a teacher and educator spanned decades and her influence is still felt among so many of her students even today. Aunt Helena was a woman of the ages who left an indelible mark on the world.
Helena second from the right, posing here with her sisters. Dean's grandmother is on the left.
While Aunt Helena wrote a volume full of poetry, perhaps my favorite is the one she wrote for 19 year old Dean.

 Dean O. Garlick
(written January 1979)

Born of goodly parents
In good old Farr West town,
Dean O. grew up happy
With friends that gathered 'round.

He liked his country living,
Farms and pastures on each side,
Where the rugged, rocky mountains
Hem in the valley wide.

He roams the fields together
With dog, Rufus, and his gun.
He likes to shoot at pheasants
As through the grass they run.

He loves to go out fishing
And climb Uintah Mountains high
Where the trail is rough and dangerous
Up near the clear blue sky.

With aching bones and blisters
His most challenging hike did make
From the beautiful Beaver Mountains
Over into Rainbow Lake

Skiing is a favorite sport,
Dean rides the slopes with skill.
For two years he'll miss these things.
Ah yes, I'm sure he will.

Chasing 'round in his loved Jeep
Dating girls and such,
These sacrifices he'll learn to make
For this he loves so much.

His family all will miss him
And his ever hungry face.
There will be more food for Rufus
If he eats at Dean O's place.


  1. What a wonderful woman she seemed to be and that poem is priceless. Beautiful tribute to her!

  2. What a heartwarming tribute Lisa. Brought tears to my eyes. Reminded me of my own grandmother.

  3. Of course I loved the photo of her with her beau and their babe...and the sheep!
    Such a sweet tribute. Amazing how much trickles down through the genrations in so many areas! I am learning all about this in a class I am taking right now.
    Families are just facinating!!

  4. What a beautiful, loving tribute to an amazing woman! She sounds like a woman ahead of her time. Thanks for sharing her story and all those beautiful photos.