Edna Earle Benton and her daughter, Tonya organized a going away luncheon in honor of longtime Bluebonnet Study Club member Helen Olsen on June 27. The party was held at Edna Earle’s historic home and included Helen’s daughter, Janice Gail; neighbors; friends; and club members. A delicious lunch was served buffet style by the hostesses.
The group presented Helen with a “Ring of Blessings” bearing personal messages wishing good health and all God’s richest blessings in her new home at the Waterford in Ft. Worth.
This reporter first met Helen when I served as treasurer of the Heart of Texas District of Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs. I found her quiet charm and intelligent eyes intriguing and after hearing about her life during the luncheon, I discovered why I felt that way.
Beginning her life in Mason as Helen Leifeste, she moved to Florence in 1931. She went to school in a horsedrawn buggy during her last year of high school in 1934 due to the hard depression years. After graduation, she lived in Iraan, Tulsa, Houston, and then New York City where she worked as a cook in Manhattan. She went to night school to learn how to work with sheet metal and became a “Rosie the Riviter,” building airplanes for the war effort.
Helen met and married Kurt Olsen. He was in the U.S. Navy, so what did Helen do but join the Women’s Air Corp and spend two years in that vocation. After the war, she went to school to earn a beautician’s license and worked in that career for a while, then decided to go back to work for Uncle Sam at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio in 1966. She was probably one of the very few women who could work on airplane engines. She retired in January of 1985 and came back to Mason in March that year.
During all those busy years, she also was blessed with two daughters, the aforementioned Janice Gail who lives in Ft. Worth and Karen who lives in Seattle.
In remembering happenings to tell me, she recalled in 1934 driving her aunt from Texas to Los Angeles in a Cadillac because her aunt’s son had just won the Dole Pineapple award for flying his airplane solo from the states to Hawaii.
Janice Gail told me that when people starting talking about women’s liberation, she could not relate to the idea because her mother had always been liberated and taught her daughters to live the same way.
Helen has been a faithful visitor to the Mason Care Center delivering bananas to the residents among her other deeds.
Mason is losing one of its most valuable volunteers and a wonderful friend to all and Ft. Worth is gaining that. Much love and good wishes are sent along with Helen as she embarks on this new journey. She will be missed!
Edna Earle Benton and Helen Olsen (in hat) spend some quality time together at Helan’s going away party on June 27.