A Life Lived: Helen Cates was a meek, humble person who enjoyed helping others

Published 10:56 am Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Helen Cates’ obituary noted that she lived a very meek and humble life, but she was a busy person. A niece, Kathy Loveland, who along with her sister, Susan Whitehead, cared for Helen the last few years noted that Helen was a very meticulous housekeeper and kept a well-manicured yard.
She was 93 years old (almost 94) when she died earlier this month. In her earlier years she had worked at Raytheon Corp. Her last work was with Laws & Troutman Insurance Agency. Helen had also worked as a teacher’s aide at Hampton High School.
Susan was quick to add that her aunt was a cheerleader at Hampton High School when she was a student – that was several, several years ago when it was the Hampton Pioneers, not Bulldogs.
Helen was the last surviving member of her family which included seven other brothers and sisters. Her parents were the late Dan and Julie Stout Potter. “Oh my, did she have stories to tell about growing up, and we enjoyed all of them,” said Susan.
Helen was a long-time member of Hampton Christian Church, and she rarely missed church until about three years ago when she suffered a stroke. “She loved her church family and minister Dwayne Calhoun, who in Helen’s most recent illness visited her almost every day either at home or at the hospital,” said Kathy.
She shared that her aunt enjoyed going out with a group of the ladies at the church to eat. “Sometimes they would go to breakfast, other times for lunch. That group of friends served as her honorary pallbearers,” Kathy added.
Susan shared that Helen drove her car up until she had her stroke. “It curtailed a lot of her activities, including cooking and much of her outside work,” she said.
Both Susan and Kathy said their aunt enjoyed shopping. “She liked to dress nicely, and every two or three months we would take her on a shopping trip to Hamricks, where she would shop for something new to wear to church. And, she loved shoes,” added Susan.
Both noted that Helen was a lady, who loved to dress and look nice. “She was part of a dying breed,” the nieces shared.
A friend, Regina Cates, noted on the funeral home’s tribute page, that her mom and dad along with Helen and her husband, Clyde, in their younger days lived in an apartment in Brown’s Castle. Both her mom and Helen worked at Kress’ and then shared a kindergarten teaching assistant position. They would work 20 days on and 20 days off (before job sharing was a thing). “They would phone each other every day. They walked, shopped, went to the grocery store, to doctor’s appointments, and even put flowers on their husbands’ graves together,” Regina wrote.
Susan said Helen enjoyed working jigsaw puzzles and reading in her spare time. “She did so many things. She always cooked – usually made an orange jello salad – when a neighbor or someone in the church died. And, when we all got together at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, that’s what she usually made,” she shared.
She also noted that Helen up until she had her stroke worked in almost every local, state, and national election when voting was done at Hampton Elementary School.
“There wasn’t much she couldn’t do. You could really count on her help when there was a need in the church, family, or community,” said Kathy.
Perhaps Susan summed up her aunt’s life best when she said: “Life wasn’t always easy for her, especially in her younger years, but she was a gentle person, full of kindness and love for others. She was always willing to lend a helping hand when and wherever it was needed. She left a great example for us of a younger generation.”

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