Obituary of Helen Raymond
Helen Raymond died April 17, 2020. I write this with a heavy heart as her daughter. Mom was born in Newport Beach, California on November 26, 1923, and lived into her 90s. She died at almost 96 ½. She is left behind by her son, Larry Raymond, and his wife, Heather Raymond, and her daughter, me, Lynne Lehmer. Mom had two grandsons, Mike and Sam, and from them, three great granddaughters (ages 7-23). She will be missed so much by all of us. I want somehow to recreate the essence of my mother, our mother, as she was so special in so many ways. I’m sure more of who Mom was can be added to this.
Helen Raymond lived a wonderful and eventful life. She loved to sing and dance and made many friends after moving to Oregon from Southern California in 1991. She participated in the Hillsboro Toastmasters from maybe 2001 to 2005 or 2006. She loved to give speeches and she loved to memorize songs. She had been involved with the Toastmasters, too, in Southern California. She also was involved a little bit with the Audubon Society in Southern California. She was a Blue Bird leader, too, when her children were young.
Helen was very active in Oregon. She participated in a play reading club in Portland for a while. She sang with the Hillsboro Senior Serenaders. She enjoyed the luncheons there, too, at the Hillsboro Senior Center. Helen also led an active social life dancing and attending the luncheons at Elsie Stuhr Senior Center in Beaverton. Two times she was voted queen at the Tigard Senior Prom for seniors (not high school seniors). She had many friends from the Hillsboro Senior Center and Elsie Stuhr Senior Center.
In her younger years, Helen experienced the terrible Long Beach earthquake of 1933, where the house her mother and her were living in fell off its foundation. Her elementary school was flattened from the earthquake and she went to live at her grandparents' farm in San Bernadino, California for a year. She had fond memories of that experience, despite the tragedy of the earthquake. She liked to brag to me that she was the fastest runner in the 7th grade and she loved children, not only her own descendants but other people’s children. She went to Compton High School and Compton Junior College, CA. After that, she worked as a secretary in World War Two at Douglas Aircraft. She married her boss's son, Carl Raymond (our father), after the war and they had two children who are now the grown-up adults who miss her so much.
Helen typed 120 words a minute. She was proud of that. She was a stay-at-home mother until her husband and her divorced in 1959. Then she worked at Del Valle School as a secretary. Later in the 1960s, she worked for General Dynamics in Pomona, California as a secretary. Mom still has a good friend back in California that she met in this General Dynamics' time period. She’s a very nice lady and says she knew Mom for 60 years. She has such fond memories of their experiences as friends. Helen Raymond, our mom, later worked as a secretary for a publishing company near the Pacific Ocean when her children were in their very late teens or very early 20s. I can not totally remember. After that, she worked for Aero Space in El Segundo, California. She retired from Aero Space after working there as a secretary for 15 years.
In her off work hours she loved dancing and singing. When her children were growing up she loved to play the piano. She loved to play The Blue Danube Waltz at a time when her son and daughter were having Sergeant Garcia pillow fights. She was a great mother and brought her kids to Mt. SAC college to catch tree frogs. She brought her kids to the mountains to catch crawdads. She made great tuna sandwiches with sweet pickles in them. She liked strange things, too, like pickled pig's feet. The pickled pig's feet were in a jar next to the Pompeian Olive Oil in the cabinet to the right of the stove with a copper hood. Even a few months ago today, Mom could remember that stove and the counter to the right of it with her Mix Master on it where her kids “got to lick” the beaters after she had made a chocolate cake. Mom had so much energy. Even until her death, she had wonderful memories of the autumn leaves that were raked up in our cul-de-sac in West Covina, California. Us kids ran and jumped into the leaves. This was the same street where we played baseball in the street. Even up to six weeks ago Helen could remember our house and our street and the walnut trees we used to have in our yard in West Covina, California. She had fond memories of us going to the beach at Huntington Beach State Park.
Helen was also a great daughter to her mother, Maudie. She was a devoted daughter, even organizing our aging grandmother’s housecleaner’s comings and goings. I recorded a true story recently my mom told me about Strawberry Pie back when she and her mother still had an icebox, just when refrigerators were coming out. Helen’s mother had beautiful plants in her yard in West Covina. My brother carried a segment of one of those plants to Oregon when he moved there in the 1980s. Mom got a segment of that and had that plant in front of the windows behind her kitchen sink in Hillsboro, Oregon. I brought a segment of this Kalanchoe succulent home to my apartment in Indiana last September where it has been blooming yellow flowers ever since, giving Mom love and energy as she had moved to Jennings McCall Assisted Living in Forest Grove from her house in Hillsboro.
Helen used to love dancing and she bragged that she danced with Jerry Brown before he was governor of California. She had also danced with Al Pacino's father. After she moved up to Oregon in 1991, she got into square dancing. She just loved dancing. A friend of hers recently said that even 3-4 years ago, in Helen's early 90s, she danced up such a storm that the friend was totally amazed. Helen's positive outlook allowed her to have many great friends and her positive energy and her dancing and singing probably contributed to her long life.
She so much enjoyed the Oregon beach adventures with her son and his wife and their dogs. They spent many wonderful times at Canon Beach and at Tillamook Spit. Helen’s son and his wife and her daughter Lynne and sons have such great memories of camping at Fort Stevens near the Pacific Ocean in Oregon in the late 1980s. Mom so thoroughly enjoyed her fun time, including birthday celebrations, with Larry’s wife’s family over the years. She so much enjoyed their trips to Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall for great concerts. She also went back to Indiana to spend time with her daughter’s family as her sons grew up. She got to watch her grandsons riding their BMX bikes through the mud in Elkhart, Indiana. They loved it and so did she. There was a great memory of when keys were lost in Elkhart, Indiana, and when we went to a restaurant in a rural area and saw all the Amish men sitting at one table and the Amish women sitting at another table. One time Mom came out to northern Indiana on her way to New York to visit a friend. I have a great picture of Mom with the Twin Towers in the background. She attended her youngest grandson's wedding (my son) and went back to Indiana to visit her oldest grandson’s daughter from my oldest son when she was a little girl in the late 1990s. She and Larry came back to Indiana to visit her youngest grandson’s wedding and Mom again to visit their first daughter when she was one year old in around 2010.
Helen loved music and could easily memorize songs. She sang on open mic night in downtown Hillsboro more than once and invite her friends to come with her. She just loved to be on stage and singing. She loved her neighbors in Hillsboro and made cookies for them. She loved going to Freddies on TV Hiway to buy food. She loved buying greeting cards for her friends and family. She was so full of love.
Helen was also very inquisitive. She was interested in politics and the news and science. She liked astronomy, looking at the stars and planets. She enjoyed meeting people from other countries at the luncheons both at the Hillsboro Senior Center and Elsie Stuhr Senior Center. She enjoyed talking to the people working at Reedville Cafe, on TV Hiway in Hillsboro. She even employed one of the waitresses there to clean her house as Helen got older. Helen was full of energy almost until the end. She moved out of her house and into Jennings McCall Assisted Living in Forest Grove in September 2019. The staff loved her there. She was entertaining for them. She made them greeting cards and told them jokes. She liked to dress up and put on lipstick to go to the dining room almost until the end.
Helen had a large social circle of friends and as you read this and want to add any other great memories you have of Helen Raymond, please feel free to add them.
You will surely be missed and in our hearts, Helen Raymond, Mom. May you live forever.
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