Helen Louise Caywood Smith

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Helen Louise Caywood Smith was born Aug. 24, 1921, in Benton County, near Edwards, Mo. She passed away Oct. 20, 2009, in El Dorado Springs, Mo.

Helen was the daughter of Hannibal McKinley and Eula Glenn Martin Caywood. Her early childhood was spent in Emerson, Iowa, until age 11, when she moved with her parents, her older brother, Herbert, and younger brother, Evan, to Cedar County, near Olympia, Mo. During high school she sometimes stayed with Glen and Amy Braden and their children at the Olympia Store, where she worked for her living. She was very attached to the Bradens and continued her friendship with the daughter, Bonnie, for many years.

Helen graduated from El Dorado Springs High School in 1940. That summer she worked at the Vernon County Jail, cooking and cleaning for the employees and the inmates. For that she earned $3 per week, plus room and board at the jail house. A part of her first earnings went into a dime bank and when it was full ($5) she opened a savings account and was never without one again. She moved to Fort Scott, Kan., and for a time worked at Key Work Clothes sewing zippers in work jeans. After saving enough money, she attended Draughns Business College in Springfield while working at Kress' 5 & 10 on the Square. Eventually, she went to work at Sunflower Munitions Plant in Kansas.

On July 4, 1943, she married George Neil Smith who had been introduced to her by her brother, Evan. Their attendants were Don and Melba McPeak. George and Helen were both working at Pratt and Lambert Paint Company when George contracted spinal meningitis and for some time after that, he wasn't expected to live. He finally was released from the hospital on Feb. 14, 1945, and their first daughter, Donna LaNeill was born 10 days later.

In 1948 the family moved to Greenville, Texas, where Helen worked at the local junior high school. On June 2, 1951, their second daughter, Lana Kay, was born. In 1952, they moved back to El Dorado Springs where George got a job working at the State Hospital No. 3 in Nevada and Helen did custom sewing. She had many customers and always kept impeccable records with measurements, etc. In 1954, Terri Lynne was born and the family was complete.

In 1958 she began working in the Accounting Department at the State Hospital. Her supervisor always commented that her work and her attitude were exemplary. She worked there until 1987 when she retired.

She joined the Cedar County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and for many years was the treasurer. She took her children and grandchildren to the First Baptist Church and it was when her first grandson, Lee, was born that she began working in the nursery. Long after Lee was grown, she continued to stay in the nursery, each day bringing in little crafts to help entertain the kids. She was in the nursery for 30 years.

Helen wasn't much of a social person, preferring to sit back and listen to others. Her children never heard her raise her voice, but she was such a sweet soul that they wouldn't have done anything to cause her distress deliberately. A harsh word was never said about Helen. She wasn't outgoing herself, but had many friends. Helen was a thrifty person and until she was unable to tend to her affairs, kept perfect records of her important papers and her savings. She was an organizer and her home reflected that. Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have reaped the benefits of her savings and generosity many times through the years.

In 1957 she and George built a home on the east side of town and Helen eventually lived there for 50 years until dementia finally made her give it up. In 2007, she moved to the Community Springs Nursing Home where she died, patiently and quietly, just as she had lived.

She is survived by her three daughters, Donna, Lana and Terri; two sons-in-law, Loel Wilson and Dale Heitz; three grandchildren, Lee Wilson and Cliff and Ashley Heitz; four great-grandchildren, Lacie Smith, Adi and Asa Wilson and Parker Heitz; brother Herbert and his wife Geneal, brother Evan and his wife Carol; locally two nieces, Jaxcene Beisner and Jill Price; and other nieces and nephews.

She will be buried at a private service at the Bethel Campgrounds Cemetery in Benton County not far from where she was born. She will join George; her parents; grandparents; great-grandparents; great-great-grandparents; and many other aunts, uncles and cousins. Life for her family will never be the same without this wonderful person. She was the epitome of goodness and kindness.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, 1500 S. Glenstone, Springfield, MO 65804.