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Helen's Story

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Helen Louise Lavell, age 96, passed away on June 3 in Wilmington, Delaware. A native of Topeka, Kansas, she graduated with a business degree from Emporia State Teachers College, where she served as president of her sorority, Pi Kappa Sigma, in 1943. She was employed as personnel manager for Hall Brothers (now Hallmark Cards) until moving to Texas with her young family.
Helen lived more than 50 years in Palestine, where she was active in many community organizations, including the Civic Music Association, the First United Methodist Church, and Cub Scouts. She also taught business classes at Neches High School and private piano lessons in her home for 20 years. An industrious and energetic person who rarely sat still, Helen was passionate about the Texas Dogwood Trails Festival, of which she served as president and a member of the board of directors for a number of years. She helped establish the Dogwood Trails gift shop and helped organize the Dogwood Trails parades. The Palestine Chamber of Commerce honored her by declaring March 13, 1988 as "Helen Lavell Day." In addition, Congressman Charlie Wilson issued a proclamation on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives commemorating March 13, 1998 as "Helen Lavell Day" in recognition of "her hard work and dedication over the years" in promoting the Texas Dogwood Trails Association. As part of her effort to promote tourism in the Palestine area, she was also responsible for the Dogwood Trails being featured in Southern Living magazine.
Helen utilized her creative talents as a seamstress in coming up with the idea for and producing hundreds of "Ginny Cotton" dolls, made from old cotton mill spools, that were sold throughout the country and abroad through a local mail-order business. Her hobbies included gardening, baseball (she was an avid Atlanta Braves fan), sewing, history, reading, and travel.
In order to be near her family, in 2003 she and her husband Blair (who predeceased her in 2007) moved to Maryland, where she became active in the local historical society. Helen is survived by three children: Jeanne Higley of Wilmington, Delaware; Charles Kornegay and his wife Shirley of Elkton, Maryland; Kerrill Taylor and her husband Wes of Boca Grande, Florida; five grandchildren; one great-grandson; and her "adopted daughter" Margie Sussdorf Monroe of Austin, Texas. She will be interred in Topeka, Kansas next to her mother and father.
Helen derived enormous pleasure in attending her grandsons' musical performances whether classical, blues, or rock whenever possible. Those wishing to commemorate her love of music may send memorial gifts to the Washington Sinfonietta, c/o The Falls Church Episcopal, 115 E. Fairfax Street, Falls Church, VA 22046.
For online condolences, please visit chandlerfuneralhome.com 302-478-7100
Published on June 9, 2017
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