|Honored by:||Donald G. Westlake|
|Brick location:||PAVER:35 map|
HELEN GRACE GUM WESTLAKE
Helen was born November 8, 1927 in the same farmhouse as her mother, her grandfather, and her three sisters. For eight years, she attended the country school located on her family’s farm, and she never had a classmate. She graduated from high school in Elburn, Illinois and, then, from Northern Illinois University (with honors). In 1958, she received her M.S. in home economics education from Iowa State University. For 33 years, she chaired home economics/family and consumer sciences departments in Hinckley, IL; Stanhope and Story City IA; East Leyden High School in Franklin Park IL; and York High School in Elmhurst IL. For another 17 years, she was an adjunct professor of social studies at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn IL, retiring at age 80.
Always an innovator, Helen created new courses aimed at ensuring her students (both boys and girls) were prepared to live productive lives and have meaningful relationships as spouses, parents, employers/employees. She wrote or co-wrote 5 different texts which were used in high schools across the United States and Canada and, summers, she taught graduate courses in Teaching Techniques at numerous universities. Because she was recognized as a master teacher, she gave many plenary lectures at state conferences for educators. Both Northern Illinois University and Iowa State University honored her as a Distinguished Alumna, and her awards for achievement, philanthropy, and activism are too numerous to mention.
Helen married Donald G. Westlake in 1950. He received his Ph.D. in metallurgy at Iowa State University in 1959. Their daughter Dawn Westlake was born in 1965. She is a filmmaker in Los Angeles and is married to Bruce Rheins, a retired TV journalist. Helen died on September 9, 2012. Her inclusion as a Plaza Heroine is a memorial to her incredible life of service to humanity.
HELEN GUM WESTLAKE
AGENT OF CHANGE