Willie Helen (Commander) Galloway of Sweet Gum Head, lost her battle with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis on Saturday, May 25, 2013. After an extended illness, Helen passed away peacefully at her home surrounded by husband and family. She was 85 years of age. Born May 14, 1928, Helen spent her youth roaming the dirt roads of the Sweet Gum Head community she loved so much. At the young age of 13, she met C.C. (Bill) Galloway, also of Sweet Gum Head. Thus began a love story for the ages. The childhood sweethearts married in 1948, and, except for a short period of time, were life-long residents of Holmes County. She graduated from Florida State University in the spring of 1949. Later that year, she and Bill welcomed their first son. They would go on to raise five children and enjoy the full measure of love brought by seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Following college, Helen built a career, spanning 30 years, as an educator for the Holmes County School System. She served as a teacher at Prosperity Elementary, Westville, Bethlehem and Ponce de Leon Schools. She is primarily remembered by her students as the Home Economics teacher, girl's basketball coach and Future Homemakers of America (now FCCLA) sponsor. As an educator and FHA sponsor, she engaged students not only in the classroom but at local, state, and national events and competitions. She helped sponsor many field trips, including ones to Washington D.C. and the King Tut exhibition in New Orleans. She was always a caring and encouraging influence on her students. She truly loved teaching and touched many lives during her career. Helen was not just a teacher, but a pioneer in her field. She was the first home economics teacher in the state of Florida to bring hands-on application to the classroom. Establishing kitchen "labs," she enabled her students to experience the joy of cooking first-hand rather than through demonstration only. She assisted hundreds of young men and women in learning to reach new horizons through community involvement, public speaking, parliamentary procedure and all manner of creative and leadership oriented projects and demonstrations. At one time, Helen's FHA chapter was the most highly rated in the state of Florida – with numerous students achieving the highly coveted State Officer position. She was always willing to go the extra mile for her students – an attitude that yielded her the State Distinguished Service Award in Vocational Education in 1976. Helen retired in 1982. In retirement, she was a member of Phi Delta Kappa and the Retired Teachers Association. While she worked lovingly in her flower gardens, enjoyed any shopping trip that came her way, and quilted, the real passion of her twilight years was researching local history of all things related to Holmes County and genealogy. In typical fashion, Helen didn't just dabble on Ancestry.com.
With the same grit, creativity and resolve she had applied in the classroom, she started researching the lineage of the Galloway and Commander families. Her bedroom was converted to an extensive archive. The den became her office, with binders, printers, laptops and scanners all around. Closets were filled with research, all in support of "The Book" which traced the Galloway lineage from 1730 to present day. She saw her precious book into final draft, and in true Helen fashion secured the commitments of various loved ones to insure her book would be finished posthumously. She was a life-long member of the Sweet Gum Head Church of Christ, and now the Lord has called her home.
Helen was preceded in death by her parents, the late Emogene and Willie Louise (Harrell) Commander of Sweet Gum Head.
She is survived by her husband, Cyrial Cotton (Bill) Galloway of Sweet Gum Head, and their five children and spouses, Gary Leon Galloway and wife Sherron Byrd Galloway of Sweet Gum Head, Dr. Jerry Brian Galloway and his wife Joy Sheryl (Philips) Galloway of Geneva, Ala., Hilton Cyrial Galloway and his wife Martha Hammond Galloway of Enterprise, Ala., Mary Helen Galloway Platt and her husband Dr. Richard Gordon "Richie" Platt of Pensacola and Melissa Lynn "Lisa" Middleton and husband Charles Albert "Chuck" Middleton of Dallas, Texas. She is also survived by seven grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren, Sherri Dawn (Galloway) Campbell and husband Donald "Don" Renwick Campbell and their children Colton LaDon, Ashton Grace, Evelyn Faith, and Cecilia "Cece" Love, Eric Leon Galloway and wife Magen Sarah Madaris Galloway and their children Gage Leon, Hutch Cotton, and Curtis Thomas, Nicole Leigh (Galloway) Sewell and husband Jonathan Andrew Sewell and their children Sawyer Quinn, Zander Drake and Fisher Cole, Jared Brian Galloway of Geneva, Ala., William "Will" Garrett Galloway of Enterprise, Ala., Sarah Leanne Galloway Dunaway and husband Tyler Wayne Dunaway of Atlanta, Ga., and Emily Helen Galloway of Birmingham, Ala. Finally, Helen is survived by her only brother, Ernest Gene Commander, Sr. and wife Carolyn Louise (Coursey) Commander of Sweet Gum Head, their son Ernest Gene Commander, Jr., and wife Hope Louise (Castleberry) Commander and their daughter Grayson Riley of Chipley and daughter Kimberly Carolyn Commander and her daughter Kimberly Jaicee Mayo of DeFuniak Springs, and numerous other nieces and nephews all of whom fondly remember "Aunt Helen."
The family would like to thank all those who visited Helen in her final years. Those visits kept her connected to the community, students and friends that she loved so dearly. The family also thanks those who have expressed their love and sympathy since her death. In addition, the family thanks her caregivers, including Vanessa Hamilton and all the members of Covenant Hospice – Western Division, especially Lana Blackburn, Jack Howell, Tracy Joiner, Jimmy King, Toby Murray, Cindy Peacock , the late Jackie Register, Adrianna Taylor, Marianne Whitfield, and Tommy Wood – all of whom rendered dignified caring, devoted compassion and love to Helen in her final years. Helen will be missed as a wife, mother, granny, aunt, friend and Christian lady.
Serving as active pall bearers were Gene Commander, Eric Galloway, Jared Galloway, Will Galloway, Tyler Dunaway, and Colton Campbell. Serving as honorary pall bearers were Howard Bottoms, Archie Byrd, Cliff Carroll, Buck Commander, Junior Justice, Eddie King, Roger Owen, Wayne Smith, Gary Treadwell, and Alford Williams. Officiates were Bob Williams of Rose Hill Church of Christ in Columbus, Ga.; Don McBrayer and Jonathan Sewell of Sweet Gum Head Church of Christ in Sweet Gum Head, and Don Campbell of Hunter Hills, a Church of Christ in Prattville, Ala. The family received visitors Wednesday, May 29, 2013 from 5 to 8 p.m., at Pittman Funeral Home in Geneva, Ala. The funeral was held Thursday, May 30, 2013, at 2 in the afternoon at the Sweet Gum Head Church of Christ on Hwy. 185 with graveside services to follow at the Tara Cemetery located approx. ½ mile from Hwy 185 on Tara-Cylebrico Road. "As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples." John 13: 13-35