Blaney, Helen Elizabeth (nee McClure)
June 30, 1925 – March 2, 2020
Age 94 of St. Paul. Helen Elizabeth McClure Blaney was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Elsie Amelia Christman McClure and Harold George McClure, “Mac”.
Everyone remembers her beautiful smile and her quirky sense of humor. She was independent, hard-working, creative and dedicated to her family. She loved sewing, cribbage, ping-pong, her treasured doll collection and loved music. Helen played the cello for years, hated to travel and most of all loved to spend time with her family. Helen met her husband Jim in the church choir and they were married April 20, 1944, before he went overseas with the Army Air Corps in WWII. They moved to, Des Moines, Iowa in 1950. Helen and Jim were married 73 years before Jim passed away in June 2017.
Helen always wanted to be a mother. As her four daughters were growing up, she was actively engaged in their activities. Helen was a Brownie leader, Girl Scout leader, Rainbow Mother Advisor, Sunday School teacher and Christian Youth Fellowship leader. She was a 4-H leader, and 4-H county committee woman for 20 years. She loved sewing for her daughters, teaching them to sew, shopping for fabric and turning their recreation room into a sewing area only!
Helen’s family remembers her many contributions to her community of Des Moines and Altoona, Iowa. She served in many capacities in her church, where she especially enjoyed singing in the choir. She was a 50-year member in Eastern Star, including serving as past matron. Helen sold Avon for 13 years, was an insurance agent in business with husband Jim from 1953-2010, and she owned Back Door Fabric in Altoona, Iowa, for 33 years, helping everyone who came in with their sewing and quilting questions. As a community leader, Helen was the backbone of Altoona Olde Towne, Christmas in Olde Towne, history lectures for students and Farmer’s Market. She was often referred to as the “Mayor of Olde Towne”. Helen was a charter member of Altoona Historical Society and a dedicated co-owner of the oldest building in Altoona which now serves as the Altoona History Museum. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Altoona Chamber of Commerce in 2009.
After growing up in Detroit, living for 60 years in the Des Moines area, Helen moved to Bellingham, Washington, with her husband Jim in 2010. Helen loved finally having time to do “her projects” and she would often say, “It’s always beautiful in Bellingham!”
For her final two and a half years, Helen lived at Katy’s Cottage in Episcopal Homes, St. Paul, Minnesota. She thanked everyone who cared for her there, and made them all smile with her smile and quick humor.
Helen will be missed by her four daughters Ruth Blaney (Eric Matthews), Donna Blaney Johnson (Randy), Carol Blaney (Ron Blokker), Gail Blaney Aurand (Joel), and their families: her 9 grandchildren Jonah, Eve (Michael), Calla (John), Kelsey (Mario), Evan, Bethany (Jack), Natalie, Reed and Charis; and great grandchildren Diego, Miguel, Tavi, Oskar, Gael, Ada, and Leif. Another great grandchild is due to arrive in April.
In honor of Helen’s service to her community we invite you to take a moment to contribute to the Altoona Historical Society (104 – 2nd St. SE, Altoona, IA 50009) or to Capitol Hill Christian Church (3322 E. 25th St., Des Moines, IA 50317).