Helen A. Gillette, 93, daughter of Harvey and Blanche Carpenter, died in Hilo on August 8. She was born May 24, 1921 on her parents farm near Wakeeney, Kansas. She had been a lifelong writer for various newspapers, but particularly the Anchorage Times. She graduated with a BA in English in 1942. In 1949 she hitched a ride to Anchorage, Alaska in a small airplane piloted by an Anchorage fireman. Initially she got work at the Spin-Inn, a cafe near Merrill Field. There she met Don Gillette, an airplane mechanic/pilot who had arrived in Anchorage the year before. They soon married--with many of the Anchorage firemen in attendance. Red Dodge, a local pilot, flew them down to the Kenai Peninsula where they landed on the highway. They had to walk a few miles to Fred Mullin's cabin, but a small school bus gave them a ride part of the way. They homesteaded 160 acres at the corner of Birch and Huffman. Their land, accessible only by jeep, was about the last parcel still available. Soon after arriving in Anchorage she became a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. After the arrival of four children, Helen resumed her writing passion as a reporter for the Anchorage Times for several decades. In the 80s she began spending more and more time on Maui and developed a new writing career for local papers and magazines there. She particularly enjoyed writing human interest articles. Helen enjoyed being physically active her entire life. She had a great passion for downhill skiing, swimming, and paddling her Klepper boat. She enjoyed associating with people of all religious persuasions and was a lifelong Seventh-day Adventist. Survivors include beloved friend Dan Wahl, children Brian of Anchorage, Maia of Anchorage, and Lance and his wife Leola of Fairbanks; six grandchildren, and three great-granddaughters. Helen was preceded in death by Don Gillette, her eldest son Jack, and her brother Joe Carpenter.
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Published in Alaska Dispatch News on Aug. 17, 2014