March 25, 1933 ~ November 16, 2017
Helen Estrem Parsons died peacefully on November 16th, 2017 in Monroe, Washington. She was 84 years old.
Helen was born in 1933 in Los Angeles to Fred Speck and Martha Helen Hoffman Speck. When she was six months, in the midst of the Great Depression, her family moved to her father’s family’s farm in Peoria, Illinois. Living on a farm, Helen grew an appreciation for hard work as she learned to cultivate the land from her mother and father. This evolved into a lifelong love of gardening and a deep appreciation for nature.
Following her graduation from Bradley University, Helen taught Home Economics in Baudette, Minnesota. Here, she met her first husband Charles (Chuck) Estrem. After marrying in Fergus Falls, Chuck’s hometown, Helen and Chuck struck out for Washington State towing a boat filled with their possessions. They decided to stay in Seattle and both taught school there. They had a daughter, Debra, while on a salmon fishing trip, and three years later adopted twin boys, Carl and Eric. They raised Brittany Spaniels and later Poodles, and enjoyed many adventures camping, duck hunting and trips to the family cabin on Vashon Island, which they aquired in 1959. In 1982, Chuck passed away at age 56.
Helen met Forrest Parsons at the Mountaineers, a folk dancing group, and they were married in 1984. Forrest started and operated a successful cement business; he has four children, Glen, Kris, Debbie and Sandy.
Helen and Forrest had many adventures, as well. They were blessed with grandchildren with whom they spent many happy hours. While Helen traveled to Russia, China, the Holy Land, Australia and Scandinavia, Forrest kept the home fires burning and performed major and impressive home repairs. In their last 11 years, Helen was wheelchair-bound so they settled back in Monroe, Washington, near Forrest’s children. Helen thrived under the care of Mariam Zinn who welcomed her and Forrest as family. We are ever grateful to Mariam and her husband Mark for their loving care of Helen.
We will always remember Helen’s effervescence and zest for life, no matter the challenges faced. She was a loving mother, grandmother and devoted wife. She adored her automobiles and, to the surprise of everyone, had no known speeding tickets or accidents. Her rock solid Lutheran faith sustained her and made her passing peaceful and joyful. Her generosity, graciousness, quirky sense of humor and adventurous spirit will be sorely missed.
Helen is survived by her husband, Forrest Parsons, her children, Debra Estrem (husband Kevin and daughters Kellyann and Bridget) and Eric Estrem (son Dylan), as well as Glen Parsons (wife Brenda), Kris Jellison (husband Rick), Debbie Midkiff (husband Gordon), and Sandy Scheafer.
Helen is preceded in death by her first husband, Charles Estrem and her son Carl Estrem.
A memorial service and reception to celebrate Helen’s life are scheduled at Vashon Lutheran Church at 2:00 p.m. on December 20, 2017. All are welcome.