Helen is very proud of her husband’s Air Force service and of her very large military family. Four of her children have served in the Air Force, Army, Army Reserves, and Coast Guard, and 12 of her 26 grandchildren currently serve or have served in various military branches.
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Helene and Kenneth found love later in life. He had recently retired after serving 20 years in the Air Force and was newly divorced. She had been raising her children from a previous marriage on her own when Helene met Kenneth at work. He asked her out, and she told him no because of her children. Kenneth took Helene, her children, and his children all out to dinner at the NCO club at MacDill AFB. It was then that Helene realized her children and Kenneth’s children all attended the same school and were friends.
The couple married in 1974 and planned to surprise their children. But, the surprise was on them. The children had hung a banner that read “Now We’re All One Family.”
Helene and Kenneth enjoyed a happy life together. However, they had both taken ill at one point or another during their marriage and had each served as the other’s caregiver.
Kenneth became gravely ill and Helene stayed by his side. She didn’t want to let him go, and he didn’t want to let her go. A week before Kenneth passed away, he told her he wished they had moved to Bob Hope Village, so he wouldn’t have to worry about her.
“It was painful to lose him,” Helene said. “If you love someone, whether it’s five days, five years, or fifty years, it’s never enough time.”
A year ago, Helene found a 2008 Air Force Enlisted Village calendar that was sent to her and Kenneth as part of a fundraiser.
“Kenneth always said he’d be around to watch over me,” she recounted. “That calendar reminded me of what he told me about Bob Hope Village before he died.”
Helene hassettled nicely into her new home at Bob Hope Village and is enjoying thecamaraderie that reminds her of life on a military base. “The staff and the people here are great. Theyhave done everything possible to help me,” Helene explained. “They’ve helpedwith things I didn’t expect. I’m so appreciative and grateful to be here.”
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