Helen E Cripe of Torrance, Calif., died Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009, at the age of 88. She was born in Wakarusa, Ind., but raised her two children on a farm outside Sturgis, Mich., for 16 years.
For 16 years, Helen taught physical education at Sturgis High School and White Pigeon High School and she coached the school’s cheerleaders, as well as the girl’s volleyball team. Later in life, she would remember her years at Sturgis High as one of the crowning achievements of her professional life, saying that she felt her teaching made a difference in her students’ lives.
Helen was an experienced traveler, and during her lifetime she and her family took many trips on the family boat The Lady Five, where her training as a certified Coast Guard navigator paid off.
After she and her husband, Orval, retired, they traveled the United States in their car and by boat, with him driving and her navigating. Helen’s last big trip was a 3,000 mile road trip moving from Spring Hill, Fla., to Southern California to live closer to her daughter. She made the trip with her son-in-law, Stephen Williams, at the age of 78.
During her lifetime she lived in Indiana, rural Michigan, the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, the Florida Keys and sunny, southern California.
She will be remembered for her quick wit, hard work ethic and will always be remembered in the minds of her family as a woman of stature and resolve. She is survived by her older sister Marie Fish; daughter Rhonda (Cripe) Williams; son-in-law Stephen; and granddaughter Lauren Williams.