Helen Bunnell Weeks

 

 

 

 

Life Sketch/Obituary, Helen Weeks

January 26, 2021

Helen Bunnell was born on August,17, 1926, in Vineyard, Utah, to parents, Zelda Holdaway and Joel Bunnell. She lived in the Bunnell home, located on what is now the UVU student Center, with 7 siblings: Dean, Grace, Jesse, Neal, Eva, Margie and Dell. She passed away quietly and peacefully early on the morning of January 22nd, 2021. Helen was married to Clyde Everett Weeks Jr. for over 60 years. Clyde Weeks died on March 9, 2016. Her parents and siblings preceded her in death. Helen is survived by her 9 children: April Melody Penrod (Dale), Clyde (Skip) E Weeks III (Janice Marrott), Merrie Kristie Hudson (Randy), Sherrillee Marchelle Nichols (Blaine), Skylar Desmond Weeks, (Bette Jane Corson),Richard Mariner Weeks, Rosanna Helen Weeks, Allyson Carolee Howell, (Martin Howell) and David Wilford Weeks, (Elizabeth Miller), in addition to 37 grandchildren, 79 great grandchildren, and 17 great-great grandchildren. 

Mom spoke of her childhood as lovely. With huge lawns and trees to shelter their home. They had their own drinking water. Her father had dug a well, and piped the water down to the house. She recalls tramping all over the sand hills in search of sego-lilies, they would fry the tiny bulbs in butter and she loved them. After their day’s-work was done, many times they’d swim in the canal. What fun it was to catch the pollywogs and blood-suckers. Other days they’d hunt for arrowheads of by-gone days and build castles in the sand. From her mother, Zelda, and her grandmother Bunnell, mom learned to grind wheat and make bread, soap, home health remedies, prepare and cook a chicken from feathers to plate, chop wood, clean and maintain a pot belly stove. She recalled trips to Park City with “papa“ to sell produce, riding in the back of his Model T Ford. She attended Spencer Elementary school, often riding her beloved horse Old Slim or Old Kate. Mom lived with her grandmother Bunnell,for several years, as her right hand helper, until her father, Joel died. Her father had asked grandma Bunnell to allow mom to live with her, as times were difficult financially, with a family of seven.   

As mom established her own home, she practiced many of these skills and learned new ones. Mom was a wonderful cook. She was an expert seamstress, sewing clothes for her children, making quilts, patching, and mending socks, planting and harvesting her garden, sprouting, making jams & jellies, and preserving tomatoes, pears and peaches. She hand made several wedding dresses, and beautiful wedding cakes for her children and others. Helen, the mother of nine children, who somehow managed to feed, clothe, educate, and mentor each of her children to become happy and successful adults. Helen, the homemaker, was famous for her huge chocolate cake, lemon meringue pie, fruit salad, and hot rolls, to name just a few. Nothing could beat her fresh whole-wheat bread, and she was an expert at magically whipping up a delicious dinner, with only 4 things left in the fridge. 

Helen, the home business woman, in order to make some extra money, used her superpower people-skills to sell Levoy women’s lingerie, Figurettes bras, and taught voice lessons in her home studio to hundreds. Everyone in this arena learned one of her favorite mantras: “I'm a gift to the world! “ and would be coached to say it with gusto and confidence, repeatedly-- until they believed it! Helen, the healer, learned much about the healing arts, and believed in the connection between mind, body, and spirit. She studied breathing, natural remedies, teas, oils, meditation, aura’s chakras, energy, and anything she felt would improve her physical, mental, or spiritual health.  

Mom was a performer and musical artist. From a young age, having learned to sing, harmonizing with her mother, and singing with Papa, on his lap, and to and from school, mom began taking the lead role in nearly every year’s school production. In 1952, mom started her own radio show, called “Orem Melody Time, “ on KOVO. She sold the advertising, read her own ads, and sang songs for each half hour segment, with Geneva Olsen as her accompanist. She gained a loyal following on the show that ran weekly for more than a year. “Music has brought much happiness into my life,” she wrote, “for it is the door to my soul. When I open my mouth to sing, I feel my heart sing. I am lifted spiritually and carried to higher, loftier spheres. I am grateful for this gift that I have been able to bring happiness to others.” Opera became a love for mom. She performed leading roles in LaBoeme, La Traviata, Song of Norway, Sand in Their

Shoes, Carmen, and Madam Butterfly. Florence Jepperson Madsen became her voice teacher and mentor. Mom rode her bike from Vineyard to Provo each week for lessons, and in exchange, she mended dresses and did housework for Florence. Mom joined the choir Florence organized, called “The Singing Mothers.” In 1960, mom traveled with this choir to England, for the dedication of the Hyde Park chapel, and to perform in other notable venues throughout the British Isles.  

This experience was transformative, opening her eye to the world of travel, a larger stage, and connection with people from all walks of life.  In her words: “Music has brought so much happiness into my life. My songs seemed, somehow, connected to my soul. Singing almost seems like praying. The more perfectly I refined my voice, the closer I felt to God. It’s hard to explain, but somehow, I felt god’s presence through the vibrations of music. Through these mysterious vibrations, I am able to commune with God, angels and with other people in a most magnificent way. I believe music is the language of the soul.” Mom directed a community women’s choir called “The Chauntenettes.” This was another opportunity for her to share her love of music, and her love of people, coaching, and performing. I remember mom performing in the Provo Tabernacle one Christmas Eve with the Chantenettes, soloing and doing a reading, she had a way of capturing an audience, it was a magical night. As we left that night we walked out to a perfect winter wonderland of snow. I thought to myself, “My mom is pretty amazing!”

Mom later joined the Tabernacle Choir, and served in that group for 17 years, traveling internationally to Europe, the British Isles, China, Japan, New Zealand, Mexico, Brazil, Korea, Canada, at President Reagan’s inauguration, several tours within the US, and, of course, the weekly Spoken Word broadcasts. She performed one-woman productions throughout the community, and hundreds of musical programs for clubs, church, and care centers well into her 80s. She was a contestant for Utah in the national Mrs. America contest. When there were only 7 of us children, she sewed costumes for us, and organized a family production of The Sound of Music, which we “toured” the valley performing at least 50 times. 

In the community, mom and dad were involved, caring, informed, and anxious to contribute. Mom joined the Orem Women’s club, helped organize “the Birthday Club,” and ran for political office three times. She was twice elected President of the Utah State Federation of Democratic Women, and was the President of the Utah county chapter for 4 years. She served as Relief Society president, and frequently offered service to women in crisis, in addition to frequently sharing food, and holiday treats with neighbors. Mom loved literature, and was a firm advocate for education. She assisted dad in the establishment of Orem City’s first library.  

Mom loved to travel, and during her lifetime, visited more than 50 countries. She was an expert in packing light, and would typically take all she needed for a week or two in one small bag. This included detergent for hand-washing clothes, and always a notepad to write about her travels, insights she gained, and notes about people she had befriended along the way. Mom was comfortable with people and enjoyed talking with anyone. She loved people, and always wanted to hear their story. At home, it seems, we had an endless stream of people who would drop in to visit mom, from past encounters. Her home was open to family, neighbors, friends, and strangers, all. Her open arms and welcoming way would sometimes disarm people not accustomed to such warm acceptance. Visitors to the Weeks’ home almost always left with a hug and a warm farewell -- even repair men!

Mom was a life-long learner. An avid note-taker, clipper, photographer, videographer, and writer, she aimed to live life to the fullest, and to document it all! She researched and collected information, statistics, dates, histories, and photos to outline her own family history line and genealogy, and published it in a book she shared with everyone. She attended almost every recital, concert, or special event for her children and grandchildren, and made a record of it.

She was in the process of writing several books before she lost her eyesight, and the ability to complete those tasks. As an adventure-seeking adult couple, mom and dad traveled to China to teach English at the Beijing University. She named all her students after her own children and grandchildren, as those names were easier for her to remember and to pronounce. The assignment she tasked her students to complete was to develop their own “Dream for the 21st Century.” Mom was an ambassador of love, hope, and understanding. She wrote her own dreams for the 21st century, and shared them with her students. She inspired them to write and share, and long after she had returned home, they continued to send them to her. Back home, mom and dad began teaching classes with the Elderquest program, focusing on helping their senior friends write and share their life stories. This was an experience that deeply enriched the lives of many: mom and dad, those they encouraged to write, and family members who now have the stories and histories to cherish.  

As a family, we are grateful for the many comments we have received from those influenced by mom. “She was such a force for good in the community,” “Anyone who ever met Helen was immediately taken by her creative energy, her grace, her devotion to family and friends, and her kindness,”  “She was a legend,”  “A full and remarkable life,”Can’t wait to see her production on the other side,” “She was a superstar, that’s for sure…” “Such an elegant and talented lady.:”

And in her own words, which I will always look to, for inspiration:

“I am deeply grateful for each and every blessing of my life -- too numerous to itemize. My whole life has been one blessing followed by another. I've been there and done that: everything I’ve ever wanted to accomplish has come to fruition. I've been healthy and happy and comfortable all my life. Every wish of my heart has been fulfilled...As varied and wondrous as my musical experiences have been, my greatest and most rewarding contributions to life have been the privilege of successfully rearing my nine beautiful children. I've had it all! Mother, music, and creating beauty around me all the days of my life. What more could any human being ask for?”

“If I could bring back one thing I have held dear, it would be one lost moment when I failed to live life to its fullest: that moment, when I failed to express my gratitude, to my creator, for my long life of perfect health, wealth and happiness… a heart full of love...A song full of joy… Oh, may I have the time to do it all to bless the lives of those who live and come after me -- Trust i 

“The only really important things in life are dear friends, and peace with your family and loved ones . . . to be understood … to be loved … to be accepted for what you are … for what you believe … to understand … to love … to accept others for what they are … for what they believe … I think this is really what the Savior meant when he said, ”Though I speak with the tongue of men and of angels, and have not charity I am become as sounding brass or as a tinkling symbol … charity suffereth long, and is kind. Charity envieth not. Charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly. Seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil” … It seems that charity is the pure love of Christ. Loving one whether he deserves it or not.” One of mom’s favorite scriptures she quoted often was Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding...In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Be thou humble and the Lord, thy God, will lead thee by the hand and give thee answer to thy prayers.” I have witnessed this many, many times in my life, “ she often reminded us. 

Helen spent her last 2 years living at Heritage Gardens in Springville, Utah. We are grateful to Rebecca VomDorp and Ted Woodger, along with the many CNAs, hospice, and other caretakers for their loving concern and attention to Mom. 

We love you, mom, your spirit, creative passion, and love --

 carry forward as inspiration -- to us all...

 

Helen Bunnell Weeks

August 17 1926 - January 22, 2021

 

 

 

Helen Bunnell Weeks

 

Helen Bunnell Weeks