March 3, 1931 — November 3, 2018
Independent / Brave / Driven / Advocate / Never Idle / Open and Accepting
Helen was born March 3, 1931, in Ely, Nevada, the oldest of nine children of Enoch and Myrna Taylor. She grew up in Salt Lake City with her large extended Mormon family.
After completing high school early, she moved to Monmouth, Oregon, in 1946 to attend Oregon College of Education (now Western Oregon University). She lived with Floyd and Helen Albin and helped care for their two children, Nancy and Glenn, becoming one of the family. After her graduation in 1951, she moved to Lebanon where she started her long teaching career in public schools and her long life of service to God through St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.
In August 1955, Helen married John Francis Richard, who died in 2008, after both joined the Episcopal Church. Family life, church life, and teaching were the core of Helen’s life.
During her 35-year teaching career, Helen taught at Lebanon, Crowfoot, Gore, and Knox Butte schools. Helen created a kindergarten at St. Martin’s Church in 1956 when there were not yet any public kindergartens in Oregon.
After Helen retired from teaching elementary school in 1990, she and St. Martin's rector, the Rev. Steve Norcross, wanted to find a way to volunteer in schools so they started the St. Martin’s Learning Perch program to help third-grade students with reading. The program started with Queen Anne Elementary School near St. Martin’s, and later with Riverview School, and ending in 2018 with second-graders at Sand Ridge Charter School.
Helen and John helped form the Lebanon Soup Kitchen over 25 years ago and were faithful volunteers. Then Helen created the St. Martin’s Personal Care Kits Ministry at the Soup Kitchen where blessing bags and other items are given out six times a year.
In 1983, when the Diocese of Oregon started a school for Deacons, Helen felt the call to serve, so she studied there and was ordained on All Saints Day, November 1, 1987. In this role, she served with several clergy at St. Martin’s including The Rev. Don Wilson, The Rev. Larry Davidson, The Rev. Stephen Norcross, The Rev. Carol Sedlacek, The Rev. Charlotte Wells, and The Rev. Melodie Kimball, plus Bishop John Thornton, and was active with the Diocesan Diaconate.
After Helen and John retired, they started Strawberry City Coffee House in Lebanon and ran it from 1985 to 2001. Both also volunteered at Lebanon Community Hospital, Helen as Chaplain, and both with the hospital’s Garden Grounds Espresso Bar.
Helen was an outstanding knitter and crocheter and excelled at jigsaw puzzles. Over the years, she combated a number of health issues, and she was lovingly cared for in her last years by family, friends, clergy and devoted caregivers, Gerry Grabinski and Jonni Hudgens.
Helen is survived by her two children, daughter, Terrisa Helen Richard of Lebanon and son, John Timothy “Tim” Richard of Portland; two grandchildren, Derek Raymond Cole and Rakka Katheryn Louise Cole; and two great-grandchildren, Kira Anderson and Hunter Anderson; her siblings, Myrna Banks of Thousand Oaks, California, Marilyn Lundberg of Manti, Utah, Don Taylor of Salt Lake City, Utah, Joyce White of San Pedro, California, Glen Taylor of Bountiful, Utah, and Linda During of Pleasant Grove, Utah; and "sister," Nancy Albin Benedict of Albany.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her sister, Lou Anne Putnam; and her brother, Melvin Taylor.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 1, at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, 257 E. Milton, Lebanon, with ashes placed into St. Martin’s Memorial Garden, created in part with memorial donations when her husband, John, died in May of 2008.