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Helen was born July 29, 1921, in Colburn, Indiana, as Helen Ruth Lowther, the youngest child of Arthur G. "Bud" and Grace Anderson Lowther. They named their youngest child after the two daughters, Helen and Ruth, of the delivering physician. She attended schools in Buck Creek, Brookston, and Lafayette, graduating from Lafayette Jefferson High School. She was preceded in death by both of her parents, her brother Ralph Levi, and sister Julia June Lowther Brack.
Helen met her lifelong love, George Needham, Jr., in high school, and they married on May 4, 1941. They reared their three sons, George Ronald "Ron," Gordon Richard, and Douglas C Needham in Lafayette, Indiana. Helen took great pride and pleasure in being mother to her three sons and many others who looked to her for loving counsel and advice. Her mantra was always, "If you can't say something nice about someone, say nothing at all." In her later years, she often commented she didn't know why she was still living when so many friends and family had passed before her, other than to be a great listener and help to comfort others.
There is one lesson Helen taught Ron that he clearly remembers today. He was a young boy, maybe in third or fourth grade, and he came home from school and said, "I hate that Billy Jones." His mom said, "Oh, Ronnie, we don't hate anybody. Try to find some good in everyone." "Even Hitler?" Ron said. "Yes, even Hitler," she replied.
Helen's first job was at the Chestnut Room in the Purdue Union Building. She was a very shy, young girl, and was very nervous as Geneva Nugent interviewed her for the job as server. Since Helen was very petite and young, Ms. Nugent asked her if she could carry a tray of food, and Helen said, "Well, I can carry a sack of potatoes." She got the job and credited Ms. Nugent for training her, giving her confidence, and bringing her out of her shell. Helen had a very sharp mind, excellent memory, and great compassion for others. Given a different time period, she likely would have studied medicine and used her gift of counsel to comfort and heal.
She was preceded in death by her husband, George Jr., President of Biggs Pump and Supply, Inc. on May 2, 1979, and by her middle son, Gordon, on May 21, 1996. She married James Martin on August 6, 1982, and he preceded her in death. Helen died on March 6, 2014, at her home following a stroke.
She is survived by her oldest son, Ron, and his wife, Adele Wright Needham, of Lafayette; her youngest son, Doug, and his wife, Jackie Sledd Needham, of Oxford, Pennsylvania. She has five grand children: George Scott "Scott" Needham (wife, Anne-Marie Szabo) of Paris, France; David Laurence Needham (wife, Kimberly Routh Needham) of Avon, Indiana; and Jennifer Needham Graf (husband, Shawn) of Indianapolis, Indiana; Benjamin Edward Needham (wife, Anna Hosek Needham) of Canadian, Texas; and Sarah Needham Stellman (husband, Jeffrey "Taylor") of Seattle, Washington; and she has five great grand children: Jordan and Peyton Graf, Delaney and Kaitlyn Needham, and Méliane Needham.
Visitation from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Hippensteel Funeral Home. Funeral service Monday at 10 a.m. at the funeral home with Rev. Dr. Bill Smutz officiating. Burial to follow at Resthaven Memorial Park. Hippensteel Funeral Home is entrusted with care. Share memories and condolences online at www.hippensteelfuneralservice.com
Hippensteel Funeral Home, Inc.
822 North Ninth Street Lafayette, IN 47904
Published in the Journal & Courier from Mar. 7 to Mar. 9, 2014