Helen Cameron Nelson Quist peacefully passed away in her Salt Lake City home on March 7, 1998.
She was born in Salt Lake City, January 22, 1907, the fourth child of Pehr and Ulrika Nelson. Her heritage of "Swedish self sufficiency" started her out on a life of independent self reliance. She spoke often of her happy childhood, growing up on Crestone Avenue located in the 3300 South and 200 East area of Salt Lake City. She was a proudly self professed "tom boy". Early photographs show Helen and her gang of pals; Frank, her brother, and two other brother duos from the neighborhood. Helen often recounted one of her fondest childhood memories - climbing the trees that lined the avenue and hanging onto the topmost branches during windstorms, exhilaratingly swaying from those high perches.Helen's love of the outdoors continued throughout high school and college. She took summertime jobs as playgrounds supervisor in the local area. Her years at the University of Utah, where she earned a Physical Education degree, were filled with summertime hiking and winter time Brighton skiing expeditions. No busses to the ski resorts in those days; you had to cross country from the mouth of the canyon all the way up to Brighton. As an enthusiastic member of the University Hiking Club, Helen scaled all of the major peaks of the Wasatch Front. Upon graduation, Helen began a teaching career in Salt Lake City and Garfield, Utah. She loved teaching and was a favorite of the students. In 1938, Helen married Albert O. Quist and put her teaching career on hold. Over the next 20 years, she bore and raised six children, three girls and three boys. She took on the job uncomplainingly and heroically as circumstances moved the family from Salt Lake City to Circleville to Parowan to Cedar City, back to Salt Lake and then to Safford, Arizona. In each new location, Mom "dug in" and supported Albert in his work, provided wonderful care and nurturing for her growing family and always got involved in community activities. The four years the family spent in Safford was particularly rewarding and satisfying to mom as she was accepted into a the circle of a whole group of wonderful new friends. She also became a minor celebrity as the local radio station's Story Lady, reading children's stories over the air each week.
One more major move brought Helen and her family back to Salt Lake City, where she realized her dream of being able to build a new, permanent home. In the late fifties, Helen resumed her teaching career. In addition to teaching Physical Education at Granite High and Granite Jr. High, she designed an innovative and successful "Slim and Swim" program for Granite District's community education department. In subsequent years, Helen branched out into the district's Arts and Crafts program, teaching classes at several schools. These "hands on" activities sparked the interest and imagination of many young, undirected minds, and resulted in winning the friendship of many young students. Mom delighted in the rapport she developed with her students and while some teachers might not have appreciated the nicknames that students of that age often assign, "Quistee" didn't bother mom at all, and she even had the sense of humor to use it herself. Mom officially retired from teaching in 1972, but it wasn't long before the District Art Supervisor called and asked her to come back and help get a variety of crafts projects up and running. She agreed to take a part time position, and for the next year worked enthusiastically in developing an expanded project curriculum for the district.
Mom retired from the district in 1973, and spent her remaining healthy years working on her favorite craft projects, working in her yard, traveling a little, and delighting in visits from children and grandchildren. In the spring of 1995, a particularly virulent pneumonia attack precipitated a steady decline in her health. A series of strokes caused her further frustration. She fought valiantly for a long time and we are happy that she has been given a much deserved, peaceful rest. We love you, Mom, and will be eternally grateful to you for all you have given us.
Predeceasing her were her parents, Pehr Nelson and Abrahamina Ulrika Anderson Nelson; her brothers, Einar, Harry and Frank Nelson; her sister, Ella N. Olsen; and her husband, Albert O. Quist. Helen is survived by her six children, Richard (Kay), Karine Christopulos, Clair (Pam), Robert (Barbara), Eleanor Seeley (James) and Annalee. She is also survived by 16 grandchilden; eight great-grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.
As per Mom's wishes, friends and relatives may pay respects Wednesday, March 11 from 11 a.m. until noon at Memorial Estates Mortuary located at 5850 So. 900 East in Holladay. A brief graveside service will follow at Elysian Burial Grounds, 1075 East 4580 South.
A debt of gratitude is owed to Thelma Hartsfield and Triscia Francis. They made it possible for us to keep Mom in her home and they provided loving and competent care beyond the call of duty.
In lieu of flowers, please take your mom to lunch.
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