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Air Force Surviving Spouse Comes Full Circle at Hawthorn House

Thank you, you keep hope alive for surviving spouses

Hawthorn House resident Helen, and her husband Walt, were active supporters of Bob Hope Village. Walt sang on stage when Bob Hope would visit Fort Walton Beach and perform shows to raise money for a community just for enlisted Air Force widows. Walt sang his signature songs “Danny Boy” and “How Great Thou Art” while Helen and their children watched from their seats. Helen and Walt attended the ribbon cutting for the Dolores Hope All Faiths Chapel where Walt sang to commemorate the opening.

Proud of all of Walt’s achievements, Helen keeps this memento in her apartment and wears his wedding bands on a necklace.

Helen and Walt met in church as young teenagers. She went off to college to study literature and Walt joined the Air Force, where he was first stationed at Lockbourne AFB in 1949 as a singer for “Operation Happiness” and was a Tuskegee Airman.

The couple married and lived all over the United States and the Pacific with their eight children. Helen has fond memories of living at Itazuke Air Base in Japan where she and Walt adopted a local teenager and helped him with his education. When Helen wasn’t busy with their children, she was busy making wedding dresses.

Walt retired from the USAF in 1979 at Hurlburt Field and the family stayed in Fort Walton Beach. Helen continued to make wedding dresses and she worked as a social worker. Both Helen and Walt were active in their church and community, and the couple enjoyed visiting Bob Hope Village for special events.

Helen cared for Walt when he became ill and up until he passed away. She managed on her own at their home and her children checked in on her. After some health concerns of her own, Helen’s doctor felt it best that she not reside alone, and she moved to Hawthorn House at Bob Hope Village, the very community Walt would help raise money for with his singing talents.

Walt escorts Helen to a banquet where he was named Outstanding Airman for 1972.

Most days, Helen can be found enjoying the sunshine on the Hawthorn House patio and chatting with her neighbors about living overseas in Japan.

“I enjoy meeting others and learning their stories,” Helen said. “You could sit here and learn world history.”

Helen participated in an activity at Hawthorn House, the annual Ms. Southern Belle Pageant. She was named 2nd runner up.

Feeling inspired by Helen’s story? Donate today. Join AFEV’s “Heroes for Hope” and make your gift a monthly gift. Click HERE to give.

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