Donald Wayne Helms

Date of Birth

July 22nd, 1923

Date of Death

August 4th, 2017

Memorial Meeting

Pima Monthly Meeting


Donald Wayne Helms was born on July 22, 1923 in Stewartsville, Ohio to Roy James Helms and Dessa Mary Ault. Don graduated from high school in Barnesville, Ohio in 1941. During WWII, Don served in the United States Army where he was a guard at the Nuremberg trials.


After the war, Don attended college in Pittsburgh, where he earned Bachelor s and Master's degrees. On September 3, 1949, in Washington, Pennsylvania, Don married Marjorie (Jeri) Frances Pickett, the daughter of Warren Edward Pickett and Ruth Anna Kennard. This was Don's introduction to the Religious Society of Friends, for Jeri was a lifelong member. Don and Jeri had two children, Mark Raynor Helms who was born in 1952, and Kristina Helms Gillson, born in 1957.


Don worked as a buyer for department stores. In 1961, the Helms family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona where Don continued his profession as a buyer and store manager at Goldwater's. Don joined the Religious Society of Friends by becoming a member of Phoenix Monthly Meeting circa 1962. As a member of Phoenix Meeting, Don served on multiple committees including Budget, Finance, New Building, and Building and Property Committees. He also served as a meeting trustee.


In 1986, Don retired, and he and Jeri relocated to Green Valley, Arizona, a town just south of Tucson. Don then began a second career as a driver for Jim Click Ford, where he worked part time for 16 years. He transferred his membership to Pima Monthly Meeting in 1987, and served on the Finance Committee for several years.


In his later years, Don suffered a number of personal losses. His daughter Kristina died in 1999 at the age of 41. His wife of 52 years, Jeri Helms, passed away two years later on January 11, 2001. In March of 2008, Don's only remaining child, Mark, died unexpectedly. In spite of these great losses, Don was a very positive, future-oriented person. At his 50th high school reunion, he became reacquainted with a high school classmate, Jean Roberta McClelland. The two became fast friends and then fell in love. Although they lived 2000 miles apart, they managed to create a partnership that lasted until Jean's death in June of 2017.


On August 4, 2017, at the age of 94, Donald W. Helms passed away in Green Valley, Arizona. Don is survived by his daughter-in-law Maryjo Helms Hollobaugh, his grandsons Brent and Corey Gillson, 5 great grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.


Don was a much loved member of Pima Monthly Meeting. Into his 90s, he continued to drive from Green Valley to attend meeting in Tucson, and he also welcomed Friends to worship with him at his home. He was an energetic and kindhearted soul who saw the best in everything and everyone. Many Friends at Pima Meeting remember Don as always having a quick smile and little joke or pun upon greeting. Living a full life until his mid nineties, Don was known to quip, "Old age is not for sissies."