"The Choice of More Okmulgee Area Families"

Helen M. Vance

            Helen Martin Vance was born January 20, 1923, at Gas City, Okmulgee County, Oklahoma.  She was the eighth of nine children born to Fred A. and Della Hahn Martin.  She passed from this life Wednesday, March 18, 2009, at the age of 86, in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where she had resided for the last ten years.

            Helen was raised in Okmulgee, Dewar, and Morris, Oklahoma, graduating from Morris High School in 1941, two months after the sudden death of her mother. After her graduation, Helen kept house for her older brothers as they returned home between rodeos, and she made sure her younger brother Billy was able to finish high school the following year.  On June 7, 1942, Helen married Everett W. Vance in Checotah.  They celebrated their sixty-sixth wedding anniversary last June before Everett passed away November 26, 2008.  They were members of First Baptist Church, Okmulgee.

            When World War II began and Everett and four of her brothers went into the service, Helen moved to Tulsa to live with her Aunt Grace and Uncle Lute Martin and went to work at Douglas Aircraft, where she was an aircraft inspector.

            For most of her career, from 1959 until her retirement, Helen worked as a bookkeeper/cashier at Okmulgee Savings and Loan.  In 1999, Helen and Everett moved from Okmulgee to Stillwater to live near their daughter and son-in-law, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

            Helen was preceded in death by her husband Everett, her parents, her sisters Hester Martin Beasley, Opal Martin Seago, and Zora Avis Martin. She was predeceased by brothers Junie Martin, Elmer Martin, Roy Martin, and Billy Martin, as well as three nieces and two nephews.  She is survived by daughter and son-in-law Janice Vance Haggard and David Haggard, three grandchildren: Chris David Haggard, Kellie Haggard Ebert and husband Ryan, and Laura Haggard Little.  Helen is survived by four great-grandsons: Tyler Michael Ebert, Jacob David Ebert, Cole William Ebert, and Collier Vance Little, who was born the day following Helen’s passing.  Helen was looking forward to the birth of a great-granddaughter in August.  Helen is also survived by dear brother and sister-in-law, Burt and Wilma Martin of Henryetta, and dear sister-in-law Elsie Mae Martin of Tulsa, and many nieces, nephews, other dear relatives, and friends.

            Mom was a strong, extremely capable, nurturing woman.  She loved well, and she was well-loved.  She immediately gave her heart and hands to any loved one in need.  She created a warm, welcoming home that was always the “center of the universe” for her grandchildren and a gathering place for extended family.  Mom was a superb cook, and many of the memories her loved ones share include her making favorite dishes especially for them.  Mom’s Christmas divinity was a particular favorite of many.

            Mom lived by many of the old adages she learned from her mother as a child: “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.”  “Give of your best.”  She particularly liked the Golden Rule.  Her rich memory supplied a wealth of family stories that she wanted to preserve and pass on, especially the story of the hard but amazing life of her beloved mother.

Services will be held at 2:00 p.m. Friday,  March 27, 2009, at the McClendon-Winters Funeral Home Chapel in Okmulgee, with burial following at Okmulgee Cemetery.  Viewing will be at McClendon-Winters from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, 2009.  The family will be present from 4:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.