Remembering Grandma Helen

Scan 6Helen Jane Moore was born on September 18, 1914. She was the only daughter of Homer and May, and sister to her brothers, Paul and Richard. Grandma Helen as many of us affectionately called her, passed from this life on December 18, 2013 at the full age of 99! She is survived by her three beautiful daughters Clare, Sandy, and Billie, 10 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren and 7 great great grandchildren. When you think about it, Grandma Helen left us an incredible legacy, and today we enjoy the blessings of family, cousins and friends because of the sweet love she showed to those that she cared for most in this world.

Born and raised in Danville, IL, Helen would make the most important decision of her life as a 8 year old girl, when at a tent revival, she went forward to receive Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior! While she might not have fully understood the implications of that decision until later in her life, it would also be at a church meeting that she would meet her first husband Bill Payton, who was traveling through town as a trumpet player in the Army Band. They would fall in love, get married and began to make a home in Danville. The wife of an army man, Helen would give birth to their first daughter Clare in Danville, and daughters Sandy and Billie in Louisiana. Later this military family would move out to California, spend a year in Germany after WW2 and later return to California, finally landing at Hamilton Field before the marriage dissolved.

As a single parent, Helen was forced to enter the marketplace and would begin working at Albert’s Department Store in San Rafael, which would later become Macy’s. It would be while working retail, that she would meet the man who would later become her doting husband of 45+ years, George Sinnott. Together they would enjoy taking rides along the coast, going to Giants games and dancing. Grandma Helen would retire from the marketplace in 1985 after 30 years with Bank of America.

It would be in her retirement years that grandma would significantly grow in her relationship with Jesus, attending Bible Study Fellowship while continuing to be part of the community of First Baptist Church of Novato, where she attended for 26 years before landing at Valley Baptist Church these past 7 years. Grandma loved Jesus and reading God’s Word. An avid reader, she often exchanged historical fiction novels, with her daughter and granddaughters. And she always loved a good crossword puzzle.

Having married into the family, I always enjoyed spending time with Grandma Helen. And she always made me feel like one of her own grandchildren. She had such a sweet disposition and I loved to hear her laugh. There was also this playful side to grandma, she was a bit of a jokester and prankster, as you’ll see evidence of in some of the photos from the life in pictures. Grandma also loved her sweets. And I will never forget one time at Nancy’s when grandma was beginning to slip into her dementia that I watched her eat four pieces of pie at one of the Warfield get-togethers. She would look around and see if anyone was watching her, and quickly grab and eat another with a huge smile on her face. It was hilarious. It was like watching a kid in a candy store.

What a life Helen enjoyed. For many of us, we have no clue of the type of world Helen was born into in 1914. Born just a few months after World War I began, parents back then worried significantly when their children came down with high fevers and bad coughs. Statistically speaking she was expected to live to the age of 59, if she survived the perilous years of infancy. But Grandma Helen survived two World Wars, and other countless challenges to live to the age of 99, which even in this day is well above the average life expectancy.

Much of Grandma Helen’s world, was lived in what we could call today, “off the grid.” In her early years, she likely had no phone, no electricity, not even plumbing. But during her life, she witnessed the evolution of much of what we take for granted today…the first  movies with sound beginning in 1935, the evolution of television from black and white to color, the dawn of the internet, email and the modernization of America. And at 99, even as a former bank teller, I doubt she did a lot of online banking, nor did she have a Facebook page, but she was definitely was part of one of the greatest generations ever to live.

We loved Grandma Helen and she loved us. And I am grateful for the legacy and memories that she leaves us. However, the greatest legacy she would want to remember her by is that she was a lover of Jesus and she would want us all to know this hope and reality, because while we may grieve her passing today, we can grieve with hope knowing that the actual date of grandma’s death is probably not written down in a record book that we can easily get our hands on, you see the date on the obituary refers to the date that her body ceased to function. But the real Helen, the part of her that lives on forever, died many years ago when she heard the call of Jesus upon her life.  As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old things have passed away behold new things have come.

New things have indeed come to Grandma Helen! And that is our hope!

One Response to Remembering Grandma Helen
  1. Ginger Moore Briles Reply

    It was so beautiful to discover this story and pictures of my Aunt Helen Jane. She was my father, Paul’s, very cherished sister. I always thought how interesting and unusual it was that all three, Paul, Richard, and Helen Jane were such very sweet, kind-hearted people. While we lived in Berkeley during the 1950s one or the other of our families made the journey on the ferry across the bay from Berkeley on a Sunday to spend the day with each other. I was younger than my cousins, Clara, Sandy and Billie, but in the summer I spent memorable weeks with them in their house in San Rafael. There was never an unkind word among them. They were like four close sisters living happily together, sharing stories and jokes and working together in the house. My dad and Aunt Helen Jane used to love to make funny faces at each other, the one trying to out-do the other. Unfortunately we lost touch a bit as we kids all grew up and moved away and our parents grew older and more frail. But memories of those years are still so precious. Thank you so very much for posting it, for the wonders of internet that brought the sweet face of my Aunt Helen Jane back to me. From Pittsburgh, PA with much love to my cousins, Clare, Sandy and Billie, Ginger Moore Briles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Please enter your name, email and a comment.