Helen A. Hollister October, 1921- August 21, 2020 Our mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother Helen Hollister showed up for her tee time in heaven on August 21, 2020, just a few months shy of her 99 th birthday. Helen Vaughn Atkinson was born in October, 1921 in Denver, CO. The first child of Ed and Hazel Atkinson, she was just a year old when the family moved to San Luis Obispo where her grandmother, Christine, was living. Her dad went to work at Cal Poly as a bookkeeper and the family settled nearby on Hope Street. Back then, the roads were gravel and there were few houses around campus. The family had chickens, horses, and a fruit orchard. Helen grew up cleaning out the chicken coops and riding her horse, Chamaka, bareback. In 1924, her sister Norma was born. Norma, the brunette, and Helen, the blonde, grew up to be beautiful women; both were offered Hollywood screen tests. Her dad, Ed, became a partner in the Union Feed and Seed Company in downtown SLO. After school, Helen would go in to help run errands and clean, but mostly to play in the hay loft. She graduated from SLO High in 1938 and attended San Luis Obispo Junior College, the forerunner of today's Cuesta College, for a year and a half. She then went to work for her dad in his new insurance agency. One day, after a high school pep rally and bonfire, her ride home bailed out and asked William "Wink" Hollister if he could take her home. Well, as they say, the rest is history and Helen and Wink were married June 29, 1940 at St. Stephens Episcopal Church in San Luis Obispo. They were married for nearly 67 years. Wink graduated Cal Poly in Aeronautics and began work at Allan Hancock Field which necessitated a move to Santa Maria. Helen could still vividly remember Sunday, December 7, 1941 when the attack on Pearl Harbor changed everyone's lives. During the war, she was an aircraft spotter, and later in life she continued to impress us with her identification skills. While in Santa Maria, she gave birth to their first son Lee in 1942. They later settled in San Luis Obispo when Wink joined his father-in-law Ed in his insurance agency that then became Atkinson and Hollister, Farmers Insurance. In 1954 son Jon arrived and a year later the family moved to their newly built house on Longview Lane, near Cal Poly. Helen stayed busy going to Lee's baseball games and serving as Den Mother for Jon's Cub Scout Pack. She also was able to pursue her lifelong passion for art. She regretted that she was unable to attend a formal art college but made up for it by studying on her own and taking classes from local artists Arne Nybak and Robert Reynolds among others. Helen was actively involved in the Art Center of SLO and many local families had their homes decorated with her paintings. Though she was accomplished in many mediums, water color was her favorite. Even in the last years of her life she would pick up a pencil and sketch a portrait or two. One of Helen's other passions was golf. She and Wink joined the San Luis Obispo Country Club in 1960, just a few years after it opened, and played golf there into her 80's. She made many great friends while golfing, and late in life she still delighted in taking the family out to dinner at "The Club." Helen was preceded in death by her husband Wink, parents Ed and Hazel Atkinson, and her sister Norma Sullivan. She is survived by her son Lee and daughter-in-law Lynn; son Jon and daughter-in-law Maronee; nephew Joe Sullivan; niece Cindy Campbell; granddaughter Tracy Tedone (Martin); grandsons Jeff (Karen), Gregory, and Andrew Hollister; great-nephews Ryan and Matt Campbell; great nieces Christena Sullivan, Holly Tremper, and Lisa Borba; great-grandchildren Abby Rice, Emma Hollister, Brooks Hollister, Lilly Hollister, Gabi Tedone, Keely Tedone, Will Tedone; and great-great-grandson Walker Rice. The family would like to thank all those who helped give Helen such great care over these last few years especially Emily at Sydney Creek and Jose and Azalea at Chateau Rose. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Ed Atkinson Memorial Nursing Scholarship at Cuesta College or the Hollister Adobe Restoration Project (both care of the Cuesta College Foundation). A private, family service was held and a celebration of life is planned in the future. Thanks for being an amazing Mom and a true matriarch of our family, and yes, we're all wearing our sweaters.
Published in San Luis Obispo County Tribune on Aug. 30, 2020.