The Life of Helen Ruth Havens
Helen Ruth (Taylor) Havens, 87, of Olathe, KS, passed away at home on September 15, 2018, not long after watching her favorite Kansas City Royals baseball player hit a grand-slam home run. Helen was born in Battle Creek, MI, December 24, 1930, the daughter of John and Katherine (Wright) Taylor. She married John Gordon Havens on October 9, 1953. He preceded her in death on May 13, 2012.
Helen is survived by her three children, Linda and her husband Roger West, Shelbyville, IL; John Havens and wife Judy, Wamego, KS; and Julie and her husband Chris Heese, Columbia, MO; grandchildren Derek West, Jennifer West, Jessica (Havens) Fulkerson, Jill (Havens) Arnold, Jana Havens, Andria Heese, Brianna Heese and Nathanael Heese; great-grandchildren Reece, Bryce and Zac West, and Owen Arnold with Baby Arnold on the way; and a sister, Joyce (Compton) Cowan, Battle Creek, MI. She is also preceded in death by her parents and her brother, Wayne Taylor.
Helen lived with her grandparents, Robert and Cecily Taylor, in Battle Creek, MI, after her father, John Taylor, passed away when she was only two years of age. Helen, her brother, Wayne, and her mother lived with them a short time before moving to a house next door, until her mother remarried Gayle R. Compton in 1945 when Helen was a teenager. A baby sister, Joyce, soon joined the family. Helen, her sister and two aunts who were close to Helen's age, had a grand time playing on “Granny and Pa's” farm. Due to this upbringing, she developed a love for animals and all things of nature. She spoke of riding the work horses, tapping maple trees, cracking nuts from the trees, catching frogs, and her Granny frying up frog legs! Helen even had a pet crow named Pete in addition to many cats and dogs. She was an “old farm hand” helping her Pa by milking cows, driving horses, loading hay, and feeding chickens. She remembers listening to the radio for entertainment and her favorite show was “The Lone Ranger”. Her favorite treat while listening was bread and milk sprinkled with sugar. Helen also helped with the gardening, canning and churning of the cream to make their own butter. Her mother helped develop Helen's fine cooking skills and she especially excelled in making cookies, fudge and chocolate malts, which is still a family favorite to this day! She recalled going to Sonoma Church where her Granny and aunts sang. She always teared up when she heard her Granny's favorite hymn, “In the Garden”. Helen admired her Granny's lilac bushes, and she made sure to transplant them all over the country—Granny's lilacs now have offspring in PA, KS, MO, IL and several parts of Michigan.
At a young age Helen began fishing and hunting with her Pa and brother, Wayne. She became an avid fisher-woman, and at the age of 70, she was still climbing large boulders to fish at the base of dams at Kansas lakes fishing for walleye! She made many trips to Canada to fish as well with family and friends. Her last fishing trip was this Spring, at age 87, catching bass and crappie with her son and his family. Helen and her brother attended a one room school house in Sonoma, MI. She grew up playing baseball and turned into an avid sports enthusiast and athlete. She would go on to coach her daughter's softball teams to many victories! Helen's first job was as a telephone operator at Michigan Bell Telephone. She had to learn to operate the massive switch board just like the one shown on “Laugh-in” with Lily Tomlin. She later took a job at Oliver's Airplane Plant where she learned to drill and rivet in the manufacture of planes just like “Rosie the Riveter”! There she met and married John G. Havens. Helen shared her love of bird watching, gardening and cooking with her children. They especially liked her rolls, breads, fudge, homemade jams and canned peaches! She and her husband enjoyed dancing, bowling, water skiing, deer hunting, and morel mushroom hunting together over the years.
When the family moved from Montoursville, PA to Olathe, KS, they were thrilled to learn that their daughter Linda, who was in the Air Force, was to be stationed very close to them at the Richards Gebaur Air Force Base in Missouri. In Olathe, Helen took a job with the Olathe school district in the Food Service department. She worked at every school her daughter attended, as well as the Olathe Central Kitchens until her retirement from there in 1998. Many students knew Helen as the “French Fry Lady” or the “Dessert Lady”. Her own family reaped the benefits of her becoming a great maker of cinnamon rolls and dinner rolls. Helen enjoyed recollections of her 47 years in Olathe—becoming a supervisor in Food Service, bowling, fishing, garage sales with wonderful friends, bird watching, gardening, and watching SPORTS—she loved the Royals and Tigers baseball teams! Above all else she lived to love her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren with all of her heart, spirit, and soul. We were blessed upon measure to have this Great Lady in our lives for all these years. We thank God above for all her wonderful blessings to our family.
Memorial services will be held on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 at the McGilley and Frye Funeral Home in Olathe, KS. Visitation will be from 12:00 noon to 1:00 PM, with the funeral service at 1:00 PM, and burial will follow at the Olathe Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested memorials to Olathe Christian Church Youth Group at 1115 S. Ridgeview Rd, Olathe, KS 66062 or to the Ernie Miller Nature Preserve, 909 N. Hwy 7, Olathe KS 66061.