Helen Mack Vahue, 84, passed from her earthly life into heaven on Wednesday, July 25, 2012.
A memorial service will be at 10 am, Sat., July 28, 2012 at First Presbyterian Church, 1100 S. Harrison, with a reception following the service. Paul Frederiksen will officiate. The burial will be at Llano Cemetery. Arrangements are by Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors, 2800 Paramount Blvd.
“I’ve had a wonderful life,” was Helen’s oft-repeated phrase, praising God and expressing thanks for the multitude of blessings showered upon her. Though her memories faded in recent years, she continued to remember and cherish her family and friends and even make new friends.
Born at home to Ross and Rowena Mack on July 6, 1928, in Detroit, MI, Helen and her twin sister Grace were tiny premature babies whose survival was doubtful. But they grew into healthy young girls who adored their rough and tumble older brother, Hugh.
Helen loved to recall summers the family spent at Lake Angelus, a beautiful spring-fed lake near Detroit, where they swam, sailed, fished and entertained friends.
After two years with Grace at Bennett Junior College in Milbrook, New York, Helen headed west. Memories of a visit to Colorado, where she and Grace stayed at a dude ranch owned by their aunt and uncle, led her to enroll in the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta and graduated with a degree in finance.
A blind date with a fellow student in the business school led to a visit to Amarillo, an engagement ring from Wagner’s Jewelers and marriage to L. Ray Vahue in 1951.
Helen left Michigan behind and adopted all things Texan. She loved the wide open spaces, beautiful sunsets, Mexican food, ranch rodeos, and Ray’s mother and father, Olive and Dutch Vahue – who loved her as much as she loved them.
With their daughter Carol, Helen and Ray had a happy home and a blessed life, filled with family meals, fun trips and water skiing at Lake Tanglewood.
While Ray worked as a hardware salesman, owner of an outdoor advertising business and served the city as a commissioner and mayor, Helen became deeply involved in the community, dedicating her time to causes that touched her heart.
One of the first boards she served on was the USO. In the 1960s she focused on establishing a foster home for abused and neglected African American children. It was known as the Children’s Cottage. For more than a dozen years she did everything from asking for money to improve the cottage to taking the children to New Mexico to see new sights.
She served the city she loved in numerous capacities. She was president of the Junior League, co-chair of the United Way campaign, a board member of Opportunity School, board member and officer of the Amarillo Area Foundation, president of the YWCA and Llano Cemetery Association.
She was a founding member of the Samaritan Pastoral Counseling Center board, a member of the Human Relations Council and an Elder at First Presbyterian Church. In 2000 she was named Amarillo Globe News Woman of the year.
Her commitment to her family, her faith and First Presbyterian Church were the bedrocks of her life.
Following Ray’s death of a cerebral aneurysm at age 48, Helen took on the challenge of selling outdoor advertising. With the sale of the business in 1979, Helen’s life expanded to include numerous trips abroad. But she was always happy to return to her life in Amarillo.
Relationships with friends and family were high on her priority list. She had a broad circle of friends. In the blink of an eye she’d decide to have a few friends over for lunch after church and the next minute the guest list had expanded to 40.
She enjoyed having friends and family to her cabin at the Palo Duro Club and eating steak with them on Wednesday nights.
When her daughter Carol married Sam Lovelady in 1979 she became fast friends with Sam’s mother, Pat Lovelady, and the two families merged into one – celebrating every holiday together and sharing many happy times and good meals.
Helen was generous in a myriad of ways. She shared her faith and her financial blessings freely. She took her family on trips and gave great gifts. She taught her dear friend Essie how to drive and numerous friends how to water ski.
She adored her grandchildren and frequently hugged them so hard they squealed. She repeatedly told her son-in-law how much she admired him. She told her daughter she was “her one and only perfect child.” She kissed her dog 10,000 times.
She worked to strengthen the bond with her nieces and nephews and their children. She told everyone who cared for her at Ware Care Center they were her “dear friend in Christ.”
And now her “wonderful life” on this earth has drawn to a close, but her eternal life has just begun as she has been reunited with those who welcomed her into heaven.
Her daughter Carol Vahue Lovelady, her son-in-law Sam Lovelady, her grandson Patrick Vahue Lovelady and his wife Jennilee and her granddaughter Lizzie Lovelady thank her many friends and caregivers who have enriched her life and cared tenderly for her in the last weeks.
Those who wish to make a donation in Helen’s memory may considers gifts to the L. Ray Vahue Scholarship Fund c/o Amarillo Area Foundation 801 S. Fillmore Suite 700 Amarillo TX 79101; Presbyterian Home for Children, 3400 Bowie Street, Amarillo, TX 79109; Opportunity School, 1100 S. Harrison, Amarillo, TX 79101; First Presbyterian Church, 1100 S. Harrison, Amarillo, TX 79101; or Llano Cemetery Association, P. O. Box 563 Amarillo, TX 79105.