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
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|
|Helen with mother Grace and sister Betty at Pine Lawn Farm|
outside Newberg, Oregon circa 1939
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.