Helen Kane Kelleher

Honored by:Joan K. Mitchell & Family
Brick location:PAVER:7  map

RESUME: 1936 - 1956 - operated farm in Madison County Iowa. Member State Advisory Board of the Farm Security Administration Chairman Madison County FSA; Chairman Advisory Committee of Creston Production Credit Association; President Iowa Polled Hereford Association; Director Madison County Memorial Hospital Association; recipient of Merit Achievement Award ISU (1948) and Wallace's Farmer's Master Farm Homemaker award; National Catholic Rural Life Conference; American Home Economics Association; featured on Ralph Edwards national TV show "This is Your Life" (1955); named to "Who's Who of American Women (1958).

1956 - 1960: Women's Editor Capper's Farmer Magazine. 1960 - 1963: Iowa Department of Social Services Des Moines. Member. Iowa League of Women Voters. All of this before the women’s movement affirmative action the empowerment of women. A woman respected by both men and women for intelligence competence and diligent efforts.

That little resume doesn't begin to tell you of the time thought and caring she gave to both those whose lives touched hers personally and those who are in the broader spectrum of all our lives. But most important to us it doesn't tell you what she gave to her children and to our families in a new generation. Let this be our narrative. Helen Kane Kelleher graduated from ISU in 1918 with a major in Home Economics Education. A major role in her life was continuing that education; and while imprinting that need for knowledge touched the lives of many it was keenly felt by her children.

A city girl turned farm homemaker by marriage to John Kelleher (ISU BS 1908 MS 1912) her home management and child development techniques soon became sorely needed as was her knowledge of dietetics and food preservation and preparation. There were seven children in nine years (1921 to 1930) farmhands to feed often three times a day a garden that must be cared for plus additional produce to be purchased prepared and canned to feed all of those people throughout the winter months. Cattle and hogs were slaughtered the meat canned and smoked. Chickens the milk separator fruits from the orchard ... and washday the ironing the sewing the mending ... it was endless; in addition it was during the Great Depression and there was very little money for anything.

In 1936, just before Helen Kelleher's fortieth birthday, our father John Kelleher, died following a heart attack. The seven of us ranged in age from 15 to six; the oldest Peggy died four months later of polio. We had all already learned that diligent efforts both physical and mental were expected from each one appropriate to the age. With her strength and guidance we were able to pull together through the tough years.

We grew up accustomed to hearing our mother sing as she worked - one that began "When I was a student in college ..." was often heard. This led to questions "What is college?" We learned early on in the Great Depression that "they" could take away everything you had meaning all the material things but "they" could never take away what you had learned. What you learned you kept forever what you had in your brain and mind was always yours and always would be. Throughout our formative years our life at home led to the thought that the most important thing in life was to take full responsibility for yourself followed closely by the ultimate goal of a higher education which was to be your base for a lifetime of learning.

These goals were to be attained by building a foundation using every tool available. We learned to take life's uncontrollable changes as they happened then no matter what it was pleasant or unpleasant put your mind to it and determine how to make the best of it.

Each month on a trip to Des Moines she selected a boxful of books some appropriate for each one of us from the city library. Thus we learned to love reading and had a wide variety of reading materials. An encyclopedia and an unabridged dictionary were great for browsing when all of the other books were read.

She organized and was the leader of our township's 4-H club and we actively participated. The Home Demonstration Agent brought classical recordings for the group to listen to as we studied Old Masters' paintings. There was always more to learn.

However she managed it three of her daughters attended a girls' high school in Des Moines (we lived with a grandmother sold farm-fresh eggs to her neighbors and the nuns forgave half the tuition) and later two of the boys boarded at a boys' school in Des Moines.

Now please go back to the first paragraph RESUME. This is what she was achieving while we were in grade school high school college and later.

How did she do it? We don't know but we're proud of her, proud to be her children, and thankful that she lived long enough for our children to have known and felt the legacy they inherited.

In loving memory of Helen Kane Kelleher (1896-1982).

Paver Inscription:

"Helen Kane
Kelleher 1918
Honored by her
children and their