Helena Nielson Smith passed away peacefully on November 28, 2014 at the age of 96, in Centerfield. Mom was born April 13, 1918, at the family home in Crowleyville, south of Centerfield, Utah. She was the first of seven children born to Valeria Elizabeth Larsen and William Marinus “Bill Crowley” Nielson.
Helena became her dad’s right-hand-man, learning to manage a team of horses, do chores and herd cows while she growing up on the farm. She claimed never to have learned to keep house but was an excellent cook and professional seamstress. She attended elementary school in Centerfield and left GunnisonValleyHigh School in her senior year to attend business school in Salt Lake City. Following graduation she moved to Los Angeles to work. It was there she met Wilmer Charles Smith. Dad was a city boy. They were married July 23, 1938 in Santa Monica and lived happily in a new house, with a good income and daughter Marge for the first six years of their marriage. Then Dad decided he wanted to raise his children on the farm in Crowleyville instead of the streets of LA.
The family moved back to the family homestead from a life of luxury in the city to an old house with no indoor plumbing in Crowleyville. Mom and Dad were always resourceful and began life anew by building a welding shop, constantly remodeling their home and later buying a farm in Axtell. All can remember pulling up a chair to enjoy good conversation and one of Mom’s home-cooked meals on their large front porch. We were always rich, often not in cash, but in the ability to make something out of nothing while enjoying the work. While we were growing up Mom made most of our clothes, attended every school event, chaperoned all of our field trips and was a leader in our 4-H clubs. She was also a manager in the local sewing plant and kept books for the welding shop and farm. She loved being a member of the DUP and a visiting teacher, with time to help anyone who had a need for her many talents. Mom and Dad always worked together as a team to make sure their children were raised with a good work ethic, basic life skills, education and the enjoyment of whatever circumstances might arise.
Several times each year Dad came home from work in the afternoon and told Mom we needed to go to LA on vacation. She was always prepared for these spontaneous trips and would pack us into the car and make sure we kept up on our schoolwork while we were gone. Dad drove all night and we would awaken in Santa Monica at our grandparents. After visiting relatives, going to the beach, Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm we packed up new-found treasures from the ocean and returned home to share the experiences with our friends at school.
After the kids were raised and began having children of their own, Mom and Dad enjoyed spending several months each spring and fall camping at LakePowell. Going to Grandma’s house often became a vacation to the lake with swimming, hiking, water skiing and fishing. She loved to have her grandchildren and great-grandchildren visit, looking at each one as a special gift to be enjoyed in a unique way. Her optimism, love of the gorgeous blue sky that matched her gorgeous blue eyes left everyone she knew with a feeling of warmth.
As the oldest in her family, she was amazed at living to the age of 96. She has missed the friends, boating at LakePowell, cruises and trips with siblings and the association of family who have passed before her. Everyone whose life she touched will miss her more than words can express.
Survived by her children: Marge Coates and Marilou (Phil) Davis, Kelly (Barbara) Smith; daughter-in-law, Gail Smith; 13 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and 6 great-great-grandchildren; brother Neil (Colleen) and sister Betty.
Helena is preceded in death by her parents; husband; son, Charles Kirk; son-in-law, Guy Coates; daughter-in-law, Victoria Rees; brothers Ned and Jerry; sisters, Melba and Lillis.
The family extends their thanks and admiration to the staff of the CenterfieldCommunityLivingCenter, Gunnison Hospice and Dr. Embley for her continued love and care. Though she appreciated the excellent care she was given, she longed to return to the home she had built and cherished.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 12:00 Noon in the Axtell LDS Chapel, where friends may call Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Burial will be in the Centerfield Cemetery. Funeral Directors: Magleby Mortuary, Richfield, Salina and Manti. Online guestbook at www.maglebymortuary.com