Sunday, March 15, 2015

Happy Birthday Helen Louise (Werst) (Pearce) Caldwell: Longest lived female family member Women's History Month Post #10

Dear Grandparents,
Today I am deviating from the suggested Women's History Month topics to wish my Aunt Helen a very Happy Birthday. She is celebrating the 87th anniversary of her birth with her son and daughter-in-law in Hawaii. Reaching this milestone makes her the longest lived female relative on my maternal side. The complications of childbirth and disease, in our family's case polycystic kidney disease, struck down many of our female ancestors in the thirties and forties.

Helen Louise Werst in arms of mother Ada Grace (Colby) Werst
circa 1928 in Spokane or Pendleton
from collection of Betty Werst Cone
Helen was born 10 March 1928 in Pendleton, Oregon. Her father, Cecil Oscar Werst, had died at age
27 the previous October 24th in Spokane, Washington from an infection that set in after having a tooth pulled. Grace and daughter Betty Lorraine were staying in Pendleton with Hal and Madge (Colby) Massey awaiting the baby's birth. Even with the support of her sister and brother-in-law, it must have been a difficult time for Grace. Recently widowed, and now with a new baby and toddler, she needed to figure out how to support her family. Grace eventually found a job in the big city. Leaving Betty with her sister, she and Helen moved to Seattle. Long before childcare centers, she boarded Helen with a couple during the day.

Grace and Helen in Seattle circa 1931
Only after the death of her stepmother, Ada, 4 December 1931, did her father William Wallace Colby ask her to bring her daughters and come home to Pine Lawn Farm in Newberg, Oregon. It became their safe haven.
Helen with mother Grace and sister Betty at Pine Lawn Farm
outside Newberg, Oregon circa 1939

Helen was educated in the Newberg schools, graduating from Newberg High School in 1946. She attended Northwestern Business college and then worked at Meier and Frank Department Store in downtown Portland until marriage.

Immensely proud of her son Ron and daughter Jill, Aunt Helen is also close to her nieces and nephews and has been an integral part of our lives.

Aunt Helen (front row center) hosted and helped us throw
a 35th wedding anniversary party for her sister Betty (Werst) and Chuck Cone
(Betty standing, 3rd from left and Chuck standing far left)
June 1985, 1732 Vallecito Drive, Hacienda Heights, California
photograph by Helen's son Ron Pearce
Once again, Happy Birthday Aunt Helen, You have achieved a record that we can all aim for.


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