Helen Jensen Howe

Honored by:Stan and Helen Howe
Brick location:  map

When I graduated from high school I had a dream. I wanted to be a physicist and discover something that would help generations to come. I had loved the physics classes I had had in high school and felt I could handle the schoolwork involved. What I had not thought through was how to finance that dream. Since other women doubtless have a similar situation, I now have the opportunity to help them handle the financial aspect by helping fund a scholarship for third or fourth year physics majors.

I was born to Ernest and Esther Osher Jensen in the northern Iowa town of Lone Rock, in 1927. I was the third of six children. I always felt lucky to be in a small school where everyone is needed for any activity. If you could carry a tune, you were in glee club or mixed chorus; if you could get a noise out of an instrument, you were in band; if you could pass a ball and shoot a basket, you were on the team. It might not have been great music or a championship basketball team, but we felt needed and enjoyed ourselves.

My parents believed in their children receiving as much education as possible, but funding was limited so each of us girls were financed throughout two years of college with the understanding that we handled any further schooling on our own.

I enrolled at Iowa State in the class of “49” with a major in physics. As was the case for many students, I dropped out of school to earn money to return. At that time, jobs were easy to come by and teachers were in short supply so I was able to get a teaching position. I thought I would be able to live at home and be able to save funds quickly. As I had always liked children and teaching Sunday School, I felt I would be a good teacher.

But I soon discovered three things: 1. It is hard to save enough money to return to school. (It had taken all the first year to pay back the $500 I had borrowed to go to summer school.) 2. I realized how many years it would be before I would complete the education for my dream career. 3. I discovered I really enjoyed teaching elementary students. The result was I did not return to ISU, but taught six years-- three in my hometown, two in Merced, CA, and then lastly in Muscatine.

In Muscatine I met and married Stanley Howe, a native of the town, and we have lived here ever since.

I was of the fortunate generation when being a wife, a mother, and a community volunteer was a full and satisfying career. We have four children--Tom, Janet, Steve, and Jim. I did go back to college after a thirty-year absence to complete my Bachelors Degree from Iowa Wesleyan College the same week our youngest graduated from high school.

I have had a wonderful life married to a husband who has been successful both in his work and in his home relationships. I'm pleased to be able to share some of my good fortune through the Physics Scholarship.

Submitted by Helen Howe