Helen Elizabeth Beavers Evans, known to family and friends as Helen Evans, died Feb. 8 in the Cornerstone Hospice House in Tavares, Fla., after suffering a massive stroke. She was 80 years old.
Per her wishes, cremation rites took place Feb. 11, 2010, in Florida. Helen's remains will be buried at both the Evans burial plot in Augusta, Ga., and the Beavers burial plot in Chester, N.J. Small interment ceremonies will be held at both sites at dates to be determined.
The daughter of Floyd Elias Beavers of New Jersey and Lauretta Cornelia Nagel of New York, Helen was born Nov. 25, 1929, in San Diego, Calif. When she was 5 years old, they moved to the Beavers' family farm in Parker, N.J., where they resided for many years. Helen was an only child on the farm for six years before her brother, Floyd, and sister, Diana, were born.
Without other children her age in the area, the farm animals became her best friends. She kept a pet bullfrog, took care of the pigs and would ride one of the heifers when she put them out to pasture. Her love and passion for animals stayed with her throughout her life; she owned a menagerie of animals including dogs, cats, horses (Peruvian pasos and miniatures), pigs, llamas, chickens, roosters, fish and birds.
After graduating from high school in 1947, Helen remained in New Jersey, working for an insurance agent before taking a job with Co-Operative Industries in Chester. In 1954, Helen left New Jersey for Miami Springs, Fla., where she trained to be a flight attendant. After flight school, she lived in Coral Gables, Fla., and over the next five years flew for Eastern Airlines.
Helen met her husband, Bill Evans, in April 1959 on the beach at the Island Beachcomber Hotel in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, during carnival season. Bill courted Helen over the next few months in St. Thomas, Florida and his hometown of Augusta, Ga. They were married in Coral Gables, Fla., on Aug. 21, 1959, and honeymooned in St. Thomas.
Helen and Bill made their first home in Augusta, where their son W. Houston Evans II, was born. The following year they moved to St. Thomas where their daughter, Tara Walker Evans, was later born.
In addition to raising her family, Helen enjoyed boating and playing tennis with her friends. With Bill, she helped found both the Virgin Islands Montessori School in Vessup Bay and the St. Thomas Yacht Club in Cowpet Bay. She also managed and operated the Cowpet Bay Tennis Club where she and Bill were instrumental in helping to develop junior tennis by sponsoring and hosting many tournaments at the club, including what is recognized as the first junior tournament in St. Thomas and St. John.
They resided on St. Thomas for 18 years before moving for a brief time to Hilton Head, S.C.
It was during a visit with friends in Sun Valley, Idaho, that Helen discovered the place where she could make her dreams (from reading Zane Grey's Western novels) come true. She and Bill moved there in 1980. She treasured the mountains, rivers, wildflowers, wildlife and people, and took pride in creating their home, Rancho de Montana, in Bellevue. Her greatest pleasure came from raising her treasured Peruvian paso horses and riding them in the magnificent Rocky Mountains with friends and family.
Helen and Bill made their final move in 2007 to Eustis, near Mount Dora, Fla., where they decided to spend their remaining years closer to their children and grandchildren. Helen loved her small home on East Crooked Lake, which she shared with her husband of 50 years and her beloved longhaired Chihuahua, Kit.
Helen was her own woman with her own particular way of doing things. As one friend recently commented, "Helen was a force of nature!" If you were lucky enough to cross paths with her and strike a connection, she could become your most loyal and true friend. She cherished her friends and kept them in her heart wherever she was.
Helen is survived by her husband, Bill Evans; son, Houston Evans; daughter, Tara Walker Evans Shimberg; stepson, Bill Edwards; grandchildren, Ethan Briggs Shimberg, Hunter Leigh Evans and Logan Elias Shimberg; step-grandchildren Blake Edwards, Evan Evans, Elisabeth Evans, Devon Edwards, and Ernest Evans; brother Floyd Beavers Jr.; sister Diana Warner; and the following nieces and nephews: Sean Beavers, Melinda Beavers, Tracy L. Evans, Kipp Warner, Sarah Warner, Philip Warner, Kevin Warner, Chris Evans, Julie Evans and Tony Evans.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to either of these charities: Cornerstone Hospice, 2445 Lane Park Rd., Tavares, FL 32778, www.cornerstonehospice.org or Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley, Box 1496, Hailey, ID 83333, www.animalshelterwrv.org.