Helen Estes

Obituary- Helen Lee Estes

Helen Lee Stewart Estes passed away peacefully on Sunday morning on October 6, 2019 at the age of 105 years. Helen Estes was born June 16, 1914, in Barstow, Texas to Albert Lee & Leila Ann O’Kelley Stewart. She spent the first five years of her life in Barstow until her family returned to Midland, Texas in 1919, where Helen attended school for the first time. At the time, she did not know that schools and teaching would be her life-long legacy. She went on to graduate from Midland High School in May of 1932. Upon graduation, Helen was asked by the Midland County School Board to take the School Census. Helen traveled on horseback to all the farms, ranches, and homes in Midland County to register children for school.

She began her journey as a teacher in several of the, small country schools in the county such as Pleasant Valley, Stephenson, and Valley View. Helen pursued a degree from Sul Ross State Teacher’s College, graduating in 1940. That same year, she met the love of her life and married Jim Estes. Helen continued to teach and substitute while Jim was serving in World War II. Helen taught at John M Cowden Junior High and substitute taught at Mineral Wells while Jim was serving in World War II. Following the war, the couple moved to Pyote, Texas, where Jim farmed and she taught school. In 1947, they moved to Pecos and then to Van Horn, where she taught Junior High Math and became very involved in the Junior Rodeo. For their final move, Jim and Helen moved back to Midland in 1974, and she substitute taught in Greenwood until 1997. Helen and Jim loved to travel and visited most every state. After his passing, Helen continued to travel, visiting Alaska, Belgium, Austria, England, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Scotland and Switzerland. Even as Helen neared the century mark, she was living life to the fullest, even celebrating her birthdays by riding motorcycles and going on hot air balloon rides. In 2014 and being 100 years old, in full cap and gown, Helen walked across the stage and received a Doctor of Education degree from Sul Ross State University (the first doctorate ever awarded at Sul Ross) for her almost 60 years of outstanding service to education.

Helen was proceeded in death by her husband Jim in 1998; both parents; two brothers- Woodrow Wilson “Bud” Stewart & Albert Lewis Stewart; and four sisters- Lillian Lucille Sikes, Annie Tennie Anderson, Martha Nancy Wilkerson, Mabel Opal Hinson. She is survived by two sisters: Johnnie Thompson of Midland, and Jeanette Ramsey of Alpine, Texas, and one sister-in-law Sue Stewart of San Angelo, Texas as well as many nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, and loving friends.

Visitation for Helen Estes will be Tuesday, October 8th at 5:00 pm at Ellis Funeral Home and funeral service will be Wednesday, October 9th at 10:00 am at the First Christian Church in Midland.

Helen had a loving and generous heart and loved to entertain and be entertained. She never met a stranger and loved people for who they are, uniquely and individually. She celebrated life every day of her life. Helen Estes was a long-time member of the First Christian Church (Disciples in Christ) where she worshiped and served. Helen was a vivacious woman, a great storyteller, and she leaves a legacy to countless students whom she taught all across West Texas. Her family was everything but above all she loved her God.

Her family requests that donations be sent to Star Care Hospice, 620 N. Grant Avenue #100, Odessa, Texas 79761.


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