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1926 - 2020

LAKELAND - Helen Parkin Vandivier Yates, 93, of Lakeland, Florida passed away on January 10, 2020. She was born on February 23, 1926 to Edith Parkin Rhoads and Davis Vandivier. Helen was born in Franklin, Indiana, and at age 2 moved first to Mangum, OK, then El Reno, OK, and finally Chickasha, OK when her dad became a partner in the daily newspaper, the 'Chickasha Daily Express.' Helen attended the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK and Oklahoma College for Women. She was a member of Delta Gamma.
She was predeceased by her husband of 57 years, George Yates. She met George at a USO dance during WWII, and were married on June 3, 1945. They first lived in Oklahoma City, then spent 13 years in Chickasha, during which time they had four children. In 1957, George and Helen decided to move to Lakeland, Florida, near where her grandparents lived. They packed up all the kids and began a new adventure.
In Lakeland, Helen taught kindergarten at Lime Street Elementary School (now Philip O'Brien) for 18 years, and then taught at Oscar Pope Elementary School. She continued to keep up with many of her students and their families over the years. Helen was an active member of All Saints Episcopal Church for over 62 years. She was a member and officer of the Daughters of the King, Sunday School Superintendent for 15 years, and taught Children's Church. In the early years she led the girls' choir, and was a member of Episcopal Church Women, the Altar Guild, and served several terms on the Vestry.
After years of dedicated service, she was appointed the first woman to be Senior Warden of the Vestry at All Saints Episcopal in 1993. She also belonged to St. Margaret's Guild, and was a Stephen Minister.
Helen volunteered at VISTE, was a member of the Woman's Club of Lakeland, and along with her husband, George, served on the board of Habitat for Humanity. As a proud lifelong Democrat, Helen enjoyed her politics and belonged to the League of Women Voters. She was an avid bridge player, and was blessed with many friends.
Helen is survived by her four children: George Radford 'Rad' Yates (Patty); Dr. Davis Vandivier Yates (Rosemary); Rev. William Jeffrey 'Bill' Yates (Joanie); and Edith Lynn 'Edie' Yates Henderson (David). In addition, after Helen's brother died, Helen and George then raised his four children as well: Valerie, Vicky, Davis and Doug Vandivier. All these children provided Helen with a boat-load of grandchildren and great grandchildren to spoil. The current total is 16 grandchildren and 35 great grandchildren. Helen was literally out of wall space to show all the many portraits and photos of her extended family. She was very proud of her family and the stable loving families they produced. She wrote letters and sent birthday cards to all her family members and remembered all of their important dates. If she missed sending a card, she would always get on the phone.
Helen kept up with current events and family stories right up until she passed. She was truly the matriarch of the family.
A memorial service will be held in her honor at All Saints Episcopal Church on Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 1:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to Camp Wingmann, Inc, 3404 Wingmann Road, Avon Park, FL 33825 or a .
Condolences may be made to the family at www.heathfuneralchapel.com
Published in Ledger from Jan. 16 to Jan. 17, 2020
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