Doris Beebe Helvick

Honored by:Angela J. Schmidt
Brick location:G:23  map

"Don't ever be afraid to try new things," Grandma Helvick once wrote to me. "You really are as good as anyone else and better than most. Say what you really believe and feel. Try not to say hurtful things in anger. And don't ever give up on your dreams."

My grandmother always finds a way to impart such spirited messages of hope not only to me but also to her other granddaughters, grandsons and children and great-grandchildren as well. Through her gentle words and thoughtful actions my grandmother has taught me the value of showing love and respect toward family toward friends and neighbors and toward others with whom we share the world. As an artist; she has truly inspired me to expand my horizons to be strong and to always have faith in myself. May her gently spoken wisdom and patient encouragement always endure and continue to inspire the daughters of future generations to explore their dreams and realize their aspirations. -- Angela J. Schmidt

Doris Beebe was born Oct. 10 1921 in rural Greene County Iowa to La Verne Ivan Beebe and Lora Marie Pottroff Beebe. She was the eldest of their three daughters.

In a 1995 letter Doris described her childhood... "My parents were farmers. Since there were no boys in the family we had chores to do and during the really busy times we girls did part of the milking of the cows and fed pigs and things like that. The best part of the day for me was in the evening when the work was done and we all gathered on the front porch or around the dining table to do our homework. As children we played the same old games of hopscotch hide and seek and of course foot races. As a teenager our trips to town on Saturday nights to take in eggs and cream to sell was also a time to meet and talk to friends and neighbors.

We were a family of limited resources but never felt lacking in anything. The only thing I really hated on the farm was having to wash the cream separator..." Doris attended a one-room schoolhouse through the eighth grade and went on to graduate from Churdan High School in 1939. For a brief period in 1936 the Beebes moved to California in pursuit of a better life. Within six months however the family was called back to Iowa when illness struck Doris's granddad Beebe. Following her high school graduation Doris left home to attend cosmetology college in Fort Dodge Iowa. While later working as a beautician in Humboldt, Iowa Doris met Bernie Albert Helvick. They were married in the parsonage of the Congregational Church in 1941.

Three daughters were born in Fort Dodge, Iowa (Anetta Marie in 1941, Christina Lynn in 1944, and Susan Lee in 1945). A son (Bruce La Verne) was born in 1948 in Albert Lea Minnesota where the family resided for only a short time before moving to Northwood Iowa. Doris took a break from her career as a beautician in order to raise her family. In 1955 however, after her youngest child had entered school, she went to work as a seamstress and tailor for a men's store in Northwood Iowa. In 1970 when the children had all gone their separate ways, she and Bernie moved to Mason City Iowa where she found a job in another men's store. Altogether she worked as a tailor for almost 45 years. Doris retired in 1990 and she and Bernie moved to Olmsted Falls Ohio to be near their daughters Anetta and Chris and their families.

Throughout her life and especially since her retirement Doris has enjoyed painting, woodcarving, sewing and making handcrafts, although she says "I really don't consider myself to be an artist." She paints in oils and watercolors and often draws in charcoal.

Old barns and farmsteads are among her favorite subjects but she has also chosen to focus on flowers, birds, clowns,  and another favorite: elephants. For her hand-crafted vases or miniature rooms and houses she enjoys using found materials -- dried flowers, tree bark, gnarled bits of wood -- for her materials. "I also really like to sew but I don't like to follow any rules or patterns" she wrote. Although she won't admit to being a good artist (she never received any formal training) my grandmother's artworks are treasured among her family and friends.

Today Doris is 74 years old. She is the mother of four, grandmother of 14, and great-grandmother of six. In writing about herself Doris said: "My aspirations are to grow old without complaining too much. My dreams are always for my children -- to be happy and have fulfilling lives." Because of her we shall.

Addendum: Doris Eileen Helvick passed away in Mesa, Arizona, on March 23, 2013, at the age of 91, having been preceded in death by her husband Bernie, daughter Anetta, her parents, and two sisters, Marguerite Sims and Betty Williams. In her later years, Doris traveled with children and grandchildren, to destinations including the New England Coast, the Carolinas, the Ohio Valley, Lake Erie, Florida, Oklahoma, California, Arizona, Hawaii, Alaska, Louisiana and Colorado. She made her home with family in Oologah, Oklahoma, and spent winter months with more family in Mesa, Arizona. Doris was a vibrant, fun-loving individual who enjoyed time with family and friends. She was always ready for the next adventure, wherever that might take her.

Submitted 12/15/94, updated 11/23/2013