Helen Partridge Anderson died peacefully at home on January 17, 2019, with family and her hospice nurse by her side, after suffering a stroke on January 3. She had just turned 93. Helen was born at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX, on January 6, 1926, to Stanley Noble Partridge and Mary Weir Partridge. As an ‘Army brat,’ Helen grew up on Army bases in Texas, Georgia, Washington, the Philippines, Pennsylvania, New York, and California. As a child, she visited Hawaii and China and sailed three times through the Panama Canal. She graduated from Lowell High School in San Francisco and attended the University of Washington and UC Berkeley, studying Economics. After college, she and a friend worked in New York City to get funds to travel abroad. In 1950, they sailed to England, bought bicycles, and explored the countryside by bike. They then explored five other countries in post-war Europe by train and on foot. In 1953, Helen married Sven ‘Andy’ Anderson at the Presidio Chapel in San Francisco. Their first house was a 1906 ‘earthquake cottage’ in the Sunset District in SF. In 1954, daughter Susan was born. In 1955, they bought a house in Mill Valley, and in 1956, son Chris was born. In Mill Valley, Helen was involved in the local PTA and Girl Scouts. Always an elegant swimmer, Helen earned her lifeguard certificate and utilized those skills at summer camps.
The family spent many happy weekends camping at Samuel P. Taylor State Park and vacationing at the Yuba River. In 1964, they moved to St. Helena. Andy’s love of gardening led to hours of picking and canning for Helen. During her years in St. Helena, she was a regular donor to the Blood Bank and was eventually recognized for having donated over 10 gallons! In 1976, Helen was hired as an instructional aide at St. Helena Elementary School, where she worked in various capacities for 20 years. Many people remember her riding her bike to and from school when the weather allowed. During these years, she made many trips to the interior of Mexico with her daughter and friends, exploring the history and culture of the different states, taking language classes, and living with local families. Her four grandchildren were born between 1983-1987.
Helen had struggled with alcohol addiction at various points in her life. In her later years, she was immensely proud of her decades of sobriety. Her involvement in AA afforded her not only invaluable support, but also her social life. Andy passed away in 2010. Soon after, it became apparent that Helen’s advancing dementia was making it difficult for her to live safely on her own. In 2011, she moved to Pope Valley with her daughter Sue and son-in-law Jim. She loved seeing the wide variety of wildlife by Putah Creek and attending special activities at Pope Valley School. Helen had always been an avid walker, and she enjoyed many fine walks along Snell Valley Road, made possible by her trusty Rollator. With Jim and Sue, she participated in the First Day Walk at Anderson Marsh State Historic Park in Lower Lake on New Year’s Day, two days before her stroke.
With her caregiver, Yadira Casas, Helen was out in the world Mondays-Fridays, walking in parks or stores every day, visiting the library, and going to the movies. Because of her relationship with Yadira, Helen gained a large extended family in which everyone called her Grandma Helen. Children were the delight of her life, and the many cousins of the Ramirez family kept her smiling.
Helen was preceded in death by her parents, her husband of 57 years, her brother John, her sister in law, Lill, and her niece Mari. She is survived by her daughter Susan Eakle (Jim) of Pope Valley, son Chris Anderson (Joni) of Folsom, grandsons Brian Eakle (Sophia) of Daly City and Brandon Anderson (Yessenia) of Elk Grove, granddaughters Erin Eakle of Berkeley and Stacie Anderson of Folsom, great-grandsons Alexander and Lucas Anderson, great-granddaughter Misha Eakle, sister Jane Ardley of Palo Alto, sister-in-law Dorothy Partridge of San Lorenzo, nieces and nephews in the Bay Area, Colorado, Minnesota, and Australia, her beloved caregiver Yadira Casas, and the Casas and Ramirez families of Pope Valley. The family would like to thank the staff at Adventist Health St. Helena and Collabria Hospice for their excellent care and support.
Arrangements are being handled by Morrison Funeral Chapel in St. Helena. A celebration of Helen’s life will take place later in the spring. Donations in Helen’s memory may be made to the Pope Valley Scholarship Fund (www.popevalleyscholarshipfund.org), We Care Animal Rescue (www.wecareanimalrescue.org), or a charity of the donor’s choice.