Tombstone Tuesday–Helen Jean White

Helen Jean White, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

Helen Jean White, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Helen Jean White, located in row 6 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. There is a photo memorial of Helen Jean and her husband Philip on the reverse side of the memorial. The marker is located next to her mother’s and is inscribed:

Helen Jean
Jan. 20, 1926
Mar. 30, 2002

 Charles Philip
Aug. 30, 1924

 Married Aug. 5, 1944

Reverse side of White marker. (2011 photo by Karen)

Reverse side of White marker. (2011 photo by Karen)

Helen Jean (Hileman) White’s obituary, as printed in her funeral bulletin:

Helen Jean White will be remembered as a woman with a natural smile that was evidence of her strong faith in her Lord. In the last few months of her life she demonstrated that faith as she courageously dealt with the trauma of breast cancer.

Helen Jean was born on January 22, 1926, in Glenmore, to Orville and Louise (Becher) Hileman. She had two brothers, Waldo Hileman, now deceased, and Orville Edwin Hileman, of Dundas, Ontario, Canada.

Helen Jean was baptized into the Christian faith on January 26, 1926, by Pastor J.E. Albrecht. Her sponsor was Walter Becher. Church records reveal that her mother was buried on the same day that Helen Jean was baptized. She confirmed her faith on May 12, 1940. The pastor was Carl Yahl.

Helen Jean was a life-long member of Zion, serving her church in many ways. She was its treasurer for several years and was a regular attender of all worship services.

Helen Jean married Charles Phillip White on August 5, 1944. They had three children: Margaret Jean, who died as an infant; Charles Elmer White of Willshire who married Ruth; Martha David of Colon, Michigan. They also had five grandchildren.

Helen Jean and her husband owned and operated White Engine Service outside Willshire. Helen Jean was a life member of the Austin-Bantam Automobile Club, which she served for fifteen years as treasurer.

Helen Jean was a low key person who always had time for everyone from her grandchildren to salesmen who stopped at their shop. Her strong faith was quickly evident in the way she conducted herself. In the shop was a sign which ask all who were there not to use inappropriate language. She was a fixture every Sunday morning sitting on the left side near the organ. Undergoing chemotherapy had no effect on her spontaneous smile or her positive attitude. Her family meant everything to her. Her love for them was unconditional, just as God loved her unconditionally, something she came to realize even more with her cancer. Those who knew Helen Jean will miss her very much. The Lord gave Helen Jean 76 year, 2 months, and 8 days of life on this earth before granting her a final healing.

Rev. John J. Moffett presided at Helen Jean’s funeral.

Helen Jean is the young girl to the left in the confirmation photo below. My dad was also in Zion’s 1940 confirmation class. Left to right: Helen Jean Hileman, Rev. Carl Yahl, Dorothy Carr. Back: Herbert Miller, Robert Eley, Murlin Miller, Howard Dale Caffee, Fred Betzel, Joseph Bollenbacher, Carl Ripley and Dale Schott.

1940 Confirmation Class, Zion Lutheran, Chattanooga.

1940 Confirmation Class, Zion Lutheran, Chattanooga.

I knew Helen Jean most of my life. She and Philip lived about a mile from my Miller grandparents, where I spent my summers as a child. We also attended church with the Whites.

My earliest memories of Helen Jean revolve around church. She would pick me up at the Miller farm and take me, along with her two children Martha and Charles, to Zion Chatt’s summer Bible School. She would drive us to Chatt in what I thought was the coolest car, a Pontiac Woody station wagon. For me it was like riding a small bus to Chatt. Back then Helen Jean taught Sunday School and Bible School at Zion.

Helen Jean Hileman, 1943.

Helen Jean Hileman, 1943.

In later years, when I was Zion’s organist, Helen Jean always sat in the pew behind us, which was in the section directly behind the organ. I would always go to church early on Sunday morning, before Sunday School, to run through the music and hymns. Helen Jean would usually come early, too, and sit there and listen to me practice. One of her favorite organ preludes was Blessed Assurance. Often she would be there to listen as Kendra and I practiced our piano/organ duets. Helen Jean was our biggest fan and Kendra and I played a final tribute to her at her funeral, playing some of her favorite piano/organ duets.

Helen Jean also liked family history research and was a member of the Mercer County Chapter OGS. When I became interested in genealogy she encouraged me to translate and print a book of Zion Chatt’s old church records. After all, her ancestors were the Bechers, one of the first families of Zion Chatt.

Over the years the Whites serviced our lawnmowers and they always enjoyed showing and talking about their Bantam cars.

Helen Jean was a fine Christian woman and a good friend and I still miss seeing her in the pew behind us at church and talking with her.



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  1. what a beautiful tribute! Perhaps it is more inspiring because the Whites have always been so steady and reliable with a personal contact with nearly everyone in the area through the years. Their no nonsense attitude and reasonable approach to repairing darn near anything, showing no fear of getting a little grease on themselve to get the job done effectively and at rather modest fee, really set them apart from all others.

    • Brian Brewster on April 16, 2013 at 9:59 pm
    • Reply

    I remember Dorothy well and always liked her. She was a cousin to my grandmother Black whose maiden name was Carr and was born in Rockford.

    1. I remember you mentioning a Carr connection in your family. What was your grandmother’s name?

        • Brian Brewster on April 19, 2013 at 6:10 pm
        • Reply

        Kathryn Carr Black born in 1921 in Rockford to Loren”Polly” and Zelma Burley Carr. Her siblings are all gone now. They are listed in order of birth…Thurman, William , Viola(Mrs. Earl Brehm), Rose(Mrs. Phillip Ford), Kathryn, Victor, Gene. My great grandparents are buried at Bethal on 707.

        1. Thanks for the information, Brian.

    • Patricia (May) Collins on May 31, 2013 at 8:41 pm
    • Reply

    A beautiful tribute for Helen Jean! Helen Jean lived with my mother’s uncle – Walt- and wife Tops. My mother, Wilma (Becher) May, passed away in April 2010. I will pass Helen Jean’s information on to my father, John.

    1. I will always remember Helen Jean fondly. She was very special. Thank you for the additional family information. There are many connections to the Becher family. Thanks for writing!

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