|Honored by:||Pam Donahue and Sherril Finney|
|Brick location:||C:12 map|
Our mother, Helenjane Merrick Rasmussen, was born to Helen Jane Cramer and Herbert Ross Merrick in Des Moines, Iowa on March 8, 1932. She is the youngest of four brothers and sisters and grew up as a close companion to her mother and her youngest brother, Richard.
Our mother is a tall and beautiful woman with a loving, protective and compassionate spirit. She has the special ability to see into one's heart and cherish and nurture that special talent or virtue, and then set a person onto a path of success and self-esteem worthy of their individual abilities. She has three daughters, Pamela Susan Webster, Sherril Ann Webster and Jennifer Jane Webster, whom she raised with limitless affection.
When we were children, Helenjane attained her private and commercial pilot's licenses and flight instructor's certificate. She worked as a flight instructor and charter pilot in the early 1960's. She was the only woman instructor in Des Moines at that time. Helenjane was active in the 99's, a national group of women pilots which was organized by Amelia Earhart. These women pilots were groundbreakers in many areas of life, and the 99's was formed to promote camaraderie among them. When the post office issued the first stamp to honor Amelia Earhart, our mother was selected to fly to Atcheson, Kansas, birthplace of Amelia Earhart, to fly the "First Day of Issue" stamps back to Des Moines.
When Pam and Sherril were grown, Helenjane returned to college and earned her elementary teaching certificate. She taught school in the West Des Moines Community School District for twenty-three years and had many opportunities to provide special encouragement to children during their growing years. She especially enjoyed teaching fourth grade, a special age where she found an eagerness and excitement for learning without the peer pressure or jaded attitudes of older age groups. We know that she was the "favorite teacher" of many of her students in whom she instilled increased confidence and enthusiasm for exploring in an open-minded and tolerant classroom atmosphere. Helenjane prizes higher education. She is highly educated herself and talented in many areas. After high school, she attended the University of Iowa, majoring in vocal music and art. She created oil paintings as a hobby and was a soprano soloist for many years. She earned her B.S.A. from Drake University, and her M.A. from Iowa State University, specializing in literature for gifted and talented programs. All three of her daughters had an education in music while young, and all graduated from college with her constant support and encouragement.
Helenjane was very devoted to her mother, Helen Cramer Merrick, who died in 1993 at the age of 94. For many years, she volunteered as the family caregiver for her mother, taking her to medical appointments and social outings and spending every holiday with her. Helen felt loved and protected, knowing that our mother was near.
Our mother is dignified, gracious, and dedicated as she presides over her social and philanthropic organizations. She is enthusiastic and free spirited as she takes us to the amusement park in heavy rain. She is a lot of fun and a dear friend to many. She is the kind of friend who will let you pick which game to play and will then have just as good a time as if she had chosen it.
Helenjane now has a large extended family, including her husband, Donald Eugene Rasmussen, a step-daughter, Donna, and two step-sons, David and Rolland, and a total of 7 grandchildren as of August '94. All of us are exceedingly lucky to have such a wise, bright, loving, and spiritual light in our lives.
Pamela Susan (Webster) Donahue, daughter
Sherril Ann Webster Finney, daughter
Related Women Honored in the Plaza of Heroines:
Helen Cramer Merrick - mother
Bobette Goerdt - sister
Jennifer Jane Koppmann - daughter
Avis Duffy Webster - mother-in-law
Submitted on 7/12/94