Helen Rhyne Lieurance, eldest child of the late Dick and Edith Rhyne, passed away January 4, 2023 at the age of 102. She was born in the family farmhouse just outside Stanley, NC on March 29, 1920. She was preceded in death by her parents, husband Charles L. Lieurance, sisters Mary B. Cannon and Ruth H. Smull, and brother Richard D. Rhyne. She is survived by her only child, Gay L. Aridas, (Jim) of Virginia Beach, two granddaughters Julie A. Brannon, (Whit) of Durham and Sara R. Thieman, (Clay), of Virginia Beach, as well as several nieces and nephews who were very important in her life.
Growing up on the farm with roots in strong family ties during the Great Depression taught Helen to be a hard worker, frugal manager and loving, outgoing person. Early each morning she and her sisters helped their dad deliver milk from his dairy. They also spent many hours playing in the doll house he built for them and enjoyed picnics on the rocky beaches along the creek with their mom. She was educated in Stanley, graduating as valedictorian, after which she continued her education at Queens College in Charlotte, her mother’s alma mater. There she majored in history, earned a teaching certificate and was captain of the basketball team. Helen taught elementary school for 36 years in Charlotte, Asheville and Stanley. While teaching in Charlotte she met her husband Charles as he prepared at Morris Field for service in the South Pacific during WWII. They later built a home just above her beloved 1799 farmhouse where they raised their daughter, who has been blessed by their strong values and still remembers to this day to put something back where you found it!
Helen was quite involved in her community. Along with her teaching responsibilities, she maintained a lifelong membership at First Presbyterian Church of Stanley where she taught Sunday School, led youth groups, headed church circles and started the church nursery where she volunteered up into her nineties. She was head of the Stanley annual Heart Fund Drive, member and president of the teacher sorority Delta Kappa Gamma, longtime member and twice president of the 92 year old Beacon Book Club and last surviving founding member of the Thursday night bridge club in which she participated over 65 years.
The quote by Wilfred A. Peterson, “You do not grow old, you become old by not growing”, is certainly one by which Helen lived as she kept up with current events, fashion and trends. She was most fortunate to remain in good health into her upper nineties and was proud of the fact that the only medication she took was 2 vitamins. She mowed her 5 acre yard until age 89 and drove her car until age 97, running errands not only for herself but others in need. For many years her family referred to her as the “Energizer Bunny” and even when age forced her to slow down she would stand in front of the dresser leaning on her walker each morning pondering which pair of earrings best matched her outfit, also being sure to apply her lipstick before heading down the driveway to check the mail. When facing declining health she did so with grace and dignity. She remained as active in the community as possible and always enjoyed keeping up with former students and especially appreciated them speaking to her when they met “uptown.”
Helen’s life will be remembered as a vibrant one full of generosity through her devotion to family, the sharing of educational values, her willingness to assume leadership roles in every aspect with which she was involved and her gracious entertainment skills. It was typical for her to host numerous dinner parties and celebrations which included at least three main dishes, umpteen sides and three desserts! One Christmas she held an open house for all the elementary teachers in Stanley and the next afternoon entertained all the high school teachers...nothing was ever too much to handle.
The family is most appreciative for the exceptional expertise of caregivers Mary Blackman, Kathy Grigg and Sara Howell as well as Loretta, Pat, Marie, Chanda and Jeff, who all made it possible for Helen to remain in her home for the duration of her lifetime. Niece MaryLynne Cloninger, (Rusty), nephews Robert Rhyne, ( Marcia) and James Rhyne, (Kim), close longtime neighbors as well as many members of First Presbyterian Church, provided loving assistance and companionship for which we were all blessed.
Helen's Celebration of Life, conducted by the Reverends Steve Jessen and Dan King, will be held at First Presbyterian Church, Stanley, on Sunday, January 8, 2023 at 2:30 PM with Woodlawn Funeral Home making arrangements. The family will receive visitors at the church from 1:30 – 2:30. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the church, 512 Old Mt. Holly Rd., Stanley, NC 28164, or to Mission to North America, PO Box 890233, Charlotte NC 28289-0233 (please note on the donation “Steve Jessen Fund #1926”) a disaster relief fund. In reflecting on Helen’s long and well lived life, let us remember this quote from Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over... smile because it happened.”
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