Lois Denning Hellman

Honored by:Ellen Hellman
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Lois Lee Denning was born August 10, 1908, in a farmhouse in Douds, Iowa, the only child of Daisy and George Denning. Although she spent most of her growing up years on the farm in Van Buren County, her family did go to Phoenix to live for two years when she was about 10. When she visited Phoenix at the age of 82, she was still able to recognize some streets and areas that she had known as a child.

Lois went to Iowa State College in the fall of 1926. She had not been to visit. She went by train with her trunks, arriving all alone. She was the first in her family to go to college. She lived for three years in Lyon Hall. Lois was a home economics education major. One year she rode a VEISHEA float symbolizing the Spirit of Home Economics (probably 1928 or 1929). Because of finances, she was only able to attend for three years. She took a teaching job at Viola Township. There was really no town and the faculty all lived together in a teacherage overseen by the wife of the superintendent. At the end of the year, she moved to teach at Jamaica High School in Guthrie County.

Lois realized that she was not going to be able to save enough money to go back for a full year of school to get her degree. So she went to summer school, graduating the summer of 1933. In 1935 she married Oscar Wilhelm Hellman, Iowa State College class of 1930 in electrical engineering. They had wanted to get married earlier but because of the Depression only she had a job, which she would lose if she got married.

Oscar got a job working as an officer in a CCC Camp (Civilian Conservation Corps). Unfortunately, soon after they were married the camp closed. They moved to Chicago where he worked as building engineer for a YMCA. By that time, they had their two oldest children: Roger Edwin (1936) and Gordon Lee (1941). When World War II broke out, Oscar was called to active duty. He was stationed at Fort Monmoth in New Jersey.

After several months of being separated, Lois loaded up a few household items, her six-year-old and the baby and traveled by train to New Jersey. Although she did not know how long she would be there, Oscar worked as a post engineer there for most of the war before being sent to the Phillipines. After the war, the family moved to Charles City where their daughter Ellen Daisy was born. After years, they moved to the Keokuk County town of What Cheer.

They opened a plumbing and electrical business. Lois did the office work, the customer sales, while Oscar did the hands-on work. She started to return to teaching at this time with some substitute work. In 1958, the family moved to Knoxville. Lois returned to teaching full time, teaching home economics and English and coaching class plays, first at the Attica High School then Melcher Dallas. She completed her teaching career as the junior high home economics teacher in Knoxville. She retired in 1972. Her son Roger died from a motorcycle accident in 1960 at the age of 23. Oscar died in 1973.

Her son Gordon of Marietta, Georgia, is an agent for the Internal Revenue Service. His wife, Louise (who Gordon met through his mother being a class sponsor at Attica), teaches English as a second language in the Cobb County schools. Her eldest grandson, Mark, graduated from Kennesaw State College and works for the Georgia Boy Scouts; his wife, Jennifer, is a fourth grade teacher. Her younger grandson, Scott, graduated from Georgia State University and is sales for a new office furniture company. Her daughter, Ellen, graduated from Iowa State University in 1969. She is a dietitian at Vocational Rehabilitation for the State of Iowa in Des Moines.

At the age of 86, Lois is a vital interested and interesting lady. She has loved dolls all her life and has a collection of 150 antique and collector dolls. She crochets and has recently finished a tablecloth which was a several year project. She lives in the house built by William Milo Stone, one of the Iowa governors during the Civil War. It is a wonderful large old house filled with family heirlooms which she treasures. She loves to tell the family stores and to talk about "The Governor." Lois speaks of the incredible changes which have occurred in her life.

She grew up in the horse-and-buggy days and lives today with air travel and microwaves. One of the most remarkable and life enriching technologies has been the telephone: that she can pick it up and talk to her Georgia family as though they were across the street