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Herald-Zeitung Online

Helene Edith Stapleton

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Posted: Thursday, August 9, 2012 11:00 pm

Helene Edith Stapleton, age 91, a resident of Santa Barbara, California for 17 years, passed away on August 6, 2012 after a brief illness. She was born on February 18, 1921 in Los Angeles, California to Ernest Claus and Edith Dell Olmsted Timmsen.

She was married to Thomas Chester Stapleton (on August 6, 1938) for 74 years. Being single children from divorced parents, they were both determined to create the family they never had. They briefly lived in Glendale, El Cerrito, San Carlos, and settling finally in Atherton where they spent 22 years raising nine children. As the Valedictorian of Herbert Hoover High School in Glendale, Helene gave up a full college scholarship, as well as a job as an artist with Walt Disney Studio to marry her high school sweetheart, Tommy. They met on a high school chemistry trip, fell in love and married after graduation (Helene was 17, Tommy 18).

By age 25, she had given birth to five daughters and six years later the family had grown to nine, six daughters and three sons. She and Tommy gave the children the classic and stable American family life — something the two never had. With the family grown and on with their own lives, Helene realized the dream of college at the age of 55 — graduating Cum Laude from UC Berkeley with a BA degree in art history.

In 1973 Tom and Helene embarked on the journey of their lives when they took delivery of their first sailing ketch, HELENE, a 40-foot boat. Over the next ten years they sailed across the Atlantic twice, navigated the South and North Pacific Oceans and lived a life of rare adventure. In mid 1980’s, they relocated to the San Juan Islands of Washington State where they lived and sailed for more than ten years. Helene was an accomplished sailor, artist, gourmet cook, seamstress, grandmother, and loving wife to Tommy. “She shared all my dreams and interests, and was the finest woman I ever knew,” said Tommy. Daughter, Alice, and grandson, Scott, preceded her in death.

She is survived by husband Tom, daughters: Anne Ackerman and Louise Snowden of San Francisco, Virginia Stapleton of San Anselmo, Ca, Jane Baker of Dover, PA, Sara Noel Schuyler of Denver, CO, and sons Thomas Stapleton of New Braunfels, TX, Frank Stapleton of Oakland, CA, and George Stapleton of Colorado Springs, CO, 19 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren. Memorial services at Roller & Hapgood & Tinney Funeral Home of Palo Alto on Friday, August 10th from 5 pm to 7 pm. Interment at Holy Cross Cemetery of Menlo Park on Saturday, August 11th at noon. Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers to the Lymphoma Research Foundation.

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