Helen M. Stephenson

Helen M. Stephenson, 88, passed away on September 23, 2016 in Overland Park, Kansas.

Helen was born to John C. and Hannah (Monroe) Stephenson on August 7, 1928 at Midway Stock Farm, the family farm located east of Downs.

Helen graduated from Downs High School, received a BA in Art from Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, Kansas, and a Masters degree in Religious Education from Boston University School of Theology.

Helen became a member of Eastern Star at the age of 18, and was installed as Worthy Matron of the Wauwatosa chapter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1972.

Helen devoted her life to being of service to others, beginning with a three-year missionary position in Hawaii upon graduation from KWU.  This inspired her to return to school to earn her Masters Degree, and was then selected to serve as Director of Christian Education at Irvington Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Her professional career took a turn a few years later, and she accepted an opportunity with Mutual of New York (MONY) as a Cashier, and later Office Supervisor.  She earned her CLU and passed the exam for Registered Rep, and served on the Supervisor’s advisory committee as well as in other company-wide capacities.  She moved often through her 28 years with MONY, which kept her far from home and family.  Her heart was always in Kansas, however, and she was thrilled to be transferred to the Overland Park office in 1981.  She retired from MONY in 1989.

Back in Kansas, Helen enjoyed living close to family and participating in family events and gatherings.  She felt honored to be able to care for her mother for several years, and enjoyed being a part of the growing years of her great niece and nephew who lived nearby.

Helen’s strong faith and devotion were evident wherever she lived, and she served her church in many capacities, including Finance Chairperson, Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Lay Leader, and served on a Stewardship team as well as many other committees.

In Overland Park, Helen joined a local club of Pilot International, a service organization focused on brain safety and health, and supporting those who care for others.  Her nearly 30-year commitment included serving as President, Newsletter Editor, Chaplain, and Seniors Representative on the District level, and Governor of the KS-MO District.

Helen’s art talent re-emerged when she took a local wood-carving class.  Thereafter, she spent many late nights in her workshop creating award-winning realistic figures, caricatures, and both stylized and realistic animals.

Helen was much loved by her family and admired by friends and those who had the pleasure and honor to work with her in service.

Her inner strength and determination, combined with the life skills she developed as a career woman on her own, made her a strong model for independent women, not the least of whom were her five nieces who have each followed Helen’s lead in their own successful pursuits.

Helen was preceded in death by her parents and brother Blaine M. Stephenson.  She is survived by brother, Kenneth C. Stephenson.  Helen had seven nieces and nephews.  They include Karen Tiede (Grand Junction, CO), Lora Nienau (Redding, CA), John Stephenson (Lincoln, NE), and Cindy Separovich (Kirkland, WA), children of brother Blaine.; and Judy Hamilton (Manlius, NY), Nancy Steele (Merriam, KS), and David Stephenson (Paradise Valley, AZ), children of brother Kenneth.  Also special to her were eight great nieces and nephews (Crystal Jarvis, Jamin Tiede, Sommer Padgett, Nathan Nienau, Sarah Smedley, Shawn Hamilton, Carly Steele DeFrees, and Matt Steele), and numerous great-great nieces and nephews.  She is also survived by cousins Bill Stephenson (Edmond, OK) and Jane Valcore (Salina, KS).

Funeral services were Thursday, September 29, 2016, 11:00 am at Domoney Funeral Home, with Pastor Maureen Appenfeller officiating.  Pianist for the service was Judy Hamilton, who accompanied Bill Stephenson as he sang “Goin’ Home” and “If I Can Help Somebody.”
Serving as pallbearers were Kenneth C. Stephenson, Nancy Steele, David Stephenson, Shawn Hamilton, Carly Steel DeFrees, and Matt Steele.  Burial was in the Downs Cemetery.
Memorials may be given to the Stephenson Memorial Fund/Downs United Methodist Church Foundation, Downs, Kansas; and Pilot International in care of Domoney Funeral Home, PO Box 127, Downs, KS 67437.

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