Born April 10, 1913, Helen Mae Monfort passed away in her sleep Jan. 16, 2013, after two years of decline, three months short of her 100th birthday.
She was one of nine children born to Earl and Winnie Monfort of Iola. As an infant, she was voted “Prettiest Baby” at the Allen County Fair, and as a young woman was chosen “Miss Allen County.”
She graduated from Kansas State University; taught school near Iola in a one-room schoolhouse encompassing five grades; was a chemist testing munitions for Hercules Powder Company during WWII; a home economist for the Amana Company, and taught sewing and upholstery for the County Extension Service after the war.
She was married to S. Max Brown of Brown Brothers’ Construction in Manhattan. They moved to Tucson, Ariz., in 1957, where they raised two children, Richard and Joy. A few years after the death of her husband in 1969, she moved to Washington state to rejoin many of her brothers and sisters who had moved to that area over the intervening years. There she met and married retired Air Force Master Sgt. Joseph Eaves. She and Joe were instrumental in forming and supporting the Fort Walla Walla Museum in Walla Walla, Wash., where they lived.
She became an avid dealer in small antiques and collectibles. A passionate advocate of education, she generously contributed to the education of several nieces, and was a large donor of the University of Arizona and the Desert Museum in Tucson. She was a past president of the YWCA in Tucson. She was adventurous and traveled by boat, car, plane and train through much of the United States and also into the Yukon of Canada and to Mexico, Morocco, Tahiti and London. She was very excited to go to China when it opened its doors to the West. Helene was debilitated by a series of small strokes years ago while wintering in Tucson and remained in Tucson until her death.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Max, and daughter Joy; and later by her stepson Earl Eaves, she is survived by her second husband Joe and his children, Buddy, Cheri and Jo Ellen; by her son Richard Brown, daughter-in-law Kathryn, and grandchildren Kellner, Helene and Dennett; by her youngest brother, Phillip, of Waitsburg, Wash., and by the extensive offspring and their offspring of her Monfort siblings. She will be remembered as a generous and steadfast wife, mother and friend.
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