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Dr. Helyn Catherine Luechauer

1921 - 2016 Notice Condolences
Dr.  Helyn Catherine Luechauer Notice
Dr. Helyn Catherine Luechauer Aug. 13, 1921 - Sept. 24, 2016

Her wry sense of humor, boundless energy, ability to speak her mind and tell you what you need to hear, and unwavering support of women, are some of the many facets that have endeared Dr. Helyn Luechauer to so many.

Helyn Catherine Anderson was born on Aug. 13, 1921, the second child, first daughter of seven children to Lillian Hickox and Virgil Anderson, a great granddaughter of Abraham Clark, a settler of Berryessa Valley, CA. Her early years were spent in Berryessa, where her mother taught at the Oak Grove School.

Helyn attended schools in Napa, and graduated from Napa Union High School in 1939. A year, or so later, she work for her mother, who at the time was the Napa County Superintendent of Schools.

In 1942, she went to free welding school for a week, and secured a job at Henry J. Kaiser Shipyard in Richmond, as a "Wilda the Welder". This is where she met Jarvis "Lick" Luechauer, a shipwright foreman, who she married in 1943. After the war, they began a partnership of constructing numerous homes in the Bay Area, and she began her lifelong passion for salvaging architectural artifacts from auction houses to flea markets.

At the age of 41, after putting her husband through dental school, Helyn applied to various dental schools, and was turned down, being told that she was too old, not serious enough, and would be taking a man's place. She was determined to change that perception, and the following year defied all odds, and was accepted to all four schools she applied to, choosing to attend UCSF Dental School and graduating in the top 10% of her class. She practiced dentistry for 35 years, alongside her husband, in Hollywood, CA.

A 1974 mastectomy led Helyn to her interest in nutrition, and she obtained a Master's degree in Nutritional Biochemistry. She maintained a holistic sugar-free lifestyle for the remainder of her life. Helyn and her husband often lectured on holistic medical practices and nutrition in their Hollywood office. Up until two years ago, she could be seen driving her Toyota Prius, with its personalized plate "4 NO SUGAR"

Dr. Helyn's dental distinctions include:

*In 1977, Governor Jerry Brown, in his first term as governor, appointed Helyn, as the first woman in its 90 year history to serve on the California Department of Consumer Affairs' Board of Dental Examiners.

*In 1977, Helyn was voted "Best Dental Instructor of the Year" by her students at UCLA School of Dentistry.

*A founding member, in 1978, of the Holistic Dental Association, which offers support and guidance to those seeking to participate in their own health care, and to help continue the education of dental practitioners.

*In 1991, the AAWD (American Association of Women Dentists) presented Helyn with the Lucy Hobbs Taylor Award, their highest honor, in recognition of her service to dentistry- her commitment and dedication to her patients and her support of her peers.

*Helyn is an Honorary Member of The American Dental Society of Europe, which meets annually and is made up of American Dentists practicing in their adopted European country. Very few American dentists, practicing in America, are so honored.

Helyn was both socially and politically active. In addition to belonging to the League of Women Voters, she was active in many local organizations, including the Bay Area Mayflower Society, the Vallejo Choral Society, and the Anne Loucks Chapter of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution).

Two of Helyn's many passions were advocating for women and genealogy. As a member of PEO (Philanthropic Educational Organization) Chapter ON of Vallejo, Helyn helped fund a scholarship to support women in obtaining their college education. It was as a longtime member of the Hollywood chapter of the DAR that she developed an interest and passion for genealogy.

On April 8, 2016, the UCSF School of Dentistry honored Dr. Helyn as a member of the Half Century Club, in recognition of her contribution during more than 50 years as a dental professional.

Helyn had major heart surgery in Oct. 2014, and was under Kaiser's Hospice care up until the time of her death, at the age of 95, on Saturday, Sept. 24.

Helyn is survived by her sisters, Beverly Snyder of Vallejo, and Harriet Anderson of Sonoma. She was preceded in death by her husband, Jarvis Henry Luechauer; brothers, Vinson, John and Keith Anderson, and her sister, Maxine Evans.
Published in TimesHeraldOnline on Oct. 2, 2016
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