Helen Kay Hanson Reese, a "tough old bird," died at her West Valley City, Utah, home on October 27, 2022, with her three daughters at her side. Helen was five weeks shy of her eighty-fifth birthday, having defied death and doctors' expectations repeatedly over the final decade of her life.
Helen was born December 1, 1937, in Logan, Utah, the daughter of Neta Catherine Sorenson and Byron Otto Hanson. She grew up in the tiny but mighty farming community of Cornish, Utah, surrounded by a baseball- and literature-loving extended family. When she was 10 years old, Helen's 5-year-old brother, William Craig Hanson, died of leukemia.
After graduating from Utah State University, Helen taught elementary school in Tooele and Murray, Utah, and served in the Central British Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1961 to 1963. She married Arvel Carleton Reese in the Logan Temple on August 11, 1964. They are survived by daughters Catherine (Brent) Newton, Karen (James) Ashman and Carolyn (Dan) Richards and by grandchildren Naomi (Summer), Adam, Mary and Jonah Newton; Michael and Kate Ashman; and Xavier and Olivia Sosa.
Helen was proficient in the domestic arts. Her pie crusts and French bread were particularly renowned, and many Reese brides enjoyed handmade gifts from her crochet hook or sewing machine. She was faithful in her church service, including several years working in the Jordan River Temple baptistry with her husband, Carleton. Helen enjoyed trips to Disneyland with her husband and progeny, who were her greatest joy. She was happiest when spending time with her family and taught us that heaven can be found wherever you are.
Helen's small stature and sweet, unassuming manner masked a steely will and sly sense of humor. These qualities were exemplified by her first words after coming off nine days on a ventilator in 2014: "I'm a tough old bird!" She perfected the well-timed eye roll long before today's teens discovered it. Helen endured many tragedies-the death of her only sibling; her parents' untimely demises from cancer; the train accident that claimed two beloved aunts; the shocking death of her husband after routine surgery-but bore them all with grace and patience.
Although respiratory ailments increasingly limited her mobility, Helen continued to enjoy "Bob's Burgers," murder mystery novels, "Jeopardy!" and her nightly dish of ice cream to the end of her days.
Friends may call at the Jordan North 6th Ward, 3836 W. 4100 South, West Valley City, Utah from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022 and from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. A funeral service will take place at the same church on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022 at 11:00 a.m.
Helen loved flowers, so feel free to send them!