Helen Van Hook
October 5, 1932 – September 20, 2014
On most gravestones, we see two dates. The first date is the birthday of that person. The second date is the day of their death. In between those two dates is a “dash,” and that is the most important part. That “dash” represents the life lived between those two dates. The “dash” in the life of Helen is what we want to remember.
Helen was born on Hancock St. in Nashville. She attended Litton High School, which is no longer in existence, and had two sisters who have passed away.
Helen was married to Howard Van Hook on June 8, 1951. She and Howard went to church together. They were high school sweethearts who married right out of high school and were together for 57 years.
A grandson-in-law wrote of them: “The honor, love and commitment I saw they had for one another made me want to be a better husband.” Helen and Howard are now buried side by side in the military cemetery near Pegram.
Howard and Helen’s parents were members of the church of Christ. Both Howard and Helen grew up in the church and were lifelong members.
They had one daughter, Karen, who is a member of our congregation and is married to Eddie Hale. Helen was also survived by two granddaughters, Vada married to Jeff and Paula married to Ken, and one great-granddaughter, Khristan. They were a very close family, and Helen died at home with her family.
Until Karen was grown, Helen was a homemaker. After Karen grew up, Helen worked as a teacher’s aide. She loved children and enjoyed working in under-privileged and low-income areas.
When Howard retired in 1986, they started traveling. Their travels took them to Hawaii several times, Bermuda, Alaska, and two cruises each year. She white-water rafted and hiked bear trails in Alaska. But one of Helen’s favorite and final trips was to the Bible lands.
Before she left on this trip, she told me that she really wanted to ride a camel. So the first time we found a camel, we made arrangements for her to get on it and have her picture taken. She enjoyed that so much that she rode a camel in Jerusalem, Jericho, and Petra, Jordan!
Outside of a vital interest in being good a Christian and in traveling, Helen had three other interests–her children and grand-children, the Churches of Christ Disaster Relief, and being a good homemaker.
When asked to describe her, the children and grandchildren mentioned these qualities that quickly came to their minds: stubborn, very particular, un-selfish, a loving grandmother, impatient, and an ability to play with children–particularly grand-children.
A friend viewed her as the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, a wonderful wife, someone they never saw angry or complaining. An in-law added, “The five women in this family are the most beautiful, classy and strongest women I know…I am a better person because of them.”
Helen was a beautiful lady noted for her smile, a social person (she never liked to be alone), very adventurous–and she loved riding camels! All those qualities made her the person that her children, grandchildren, great-grandchild, and all who knew her will miss!
written by Don Humphrey