Cover photo for Helen Dreier Wieben's Obituary
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Helen

Helen Dreier Wieben

d. October 16, 2008

Helen Dreier Wieben, the widow of Col. John D. Wieben [USA Ret.]. and the mother of two sons, John S. Wieben, of Carmel, California, and Eric D. Wieben. Ph.D. of Rochester, Minnesota, died peacefully at her home at Wing Point on Bainbridge Island, Washington, October 16, 2008, with her family and caregivers at her side. The unofficial cause of death was boredom with the accumulated infirmities and indignities of age, and the prospect of Barack Obama's election.A child of the last Great Depression, Helen, was the third child and only daughter of Karl and Fredericka Dreier. She was born at her parent's home in Hoboken, New Jersey, on April 8, 1920, weighing only 2 . pounds. Given little hope of living more than a few weeks, she was incubated in the family's wood-burning oven, giving early proof of her resilience when the odds were against her.After graduating from Demarest High School in Hoboken in 1937, where she met her future husband, she graduated from Katherine Gibbs School in New York City before working as an executive secretary at the Baker Castor Oil Company throughout World War II.On October 18, 1945, after Doug returned from 4 years of active duty in the South Pacific, he and Helen eloped while they were both engaged to other people, or as Helen liked to say, engaged at lunch, and married by dinner. Helen then began her eventful and well-traveled life as the wife of a career Army officer. While rearing two sons, and a succession of dachshunds, Helen also served her country for 25 years while stationed in Army posts in the United States and overseas, including military and diplomatic assignments in France, Japan, Senegal, and Israel.When Doug retired in 1969 after his last assignment as the United States military attaché to Israel, Helen and Doug continued to travel until settling on Bainbridge Island in 1985, where they put down roots for the first time in their life together. As Doug often told his sons he and Helen weren't doing much of anything, and they didn't start until noon.Until Doug died in August 2007, they enjoyed a wide circle of friends on Bainbridge Island and old friends and visitors from around the world: telling stories, some of them true, until late into the night over Helen's memorable meals and numerous bottles of wine. Both Helen and Doug were long time members of the Wing Point Country Club, where she was known to prefer the 19th hole to all that walking.In the past year, Helen, who was an engaging conversationalist, entertained and beguiled her family and caregivers with stories of her years as an Army wife, and shared her firmly held political opinions that were notably unencumbered by any connection to what other people call the Real World. Feisty, opinionated, and with the constitution of a Sherman tank, Helen endured the physical realities of advancing age with humor, wine sweetened with Sweet N Low, the music of Frank Sinatra and Henry Mancini, and cigarettes. Lots of cigarettes.Her family will remember her with great affection as woman of indomitable spirit and an enormous appetite for life who always loved a good argument, a good story, and a good meal. Her friends and caregivers will remember her for her generosity and unfailing good humor at the end of her life.Helen will be missed and talked about by everyone she came into contact with, particularly by all the members of the medical profession who attended to Helen in the last years of her life, her caregivers, the dedicated people at the Hospice of Kitsap County, the pharmacists at Rite Aid, Roger's Chocolates, of Victoria, B.C.; the American tobacco and pharmaceutical industries, and the wine growers of the Champagne region of France, all of whom she supported with unfailing generosity until her final days.Helen is survived by her two sons, their wives, Pamela and Kathy, four grandchildren, Peter, of Cairo, Egypt; Kristin, of Seattle and Katmhandu, Nepal; Kelly Foster, of St. Helena, California; and Tracey Shea of Los Angeles. She also leaves one great-grandchild, Miss Allison Shea Foster, also of St. Helena.The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, which Helen liked only if they were plastic and needed no watering, that people either open a bottle of Veuve Cliquot in her memory, or make a donation to Obama ‘08 in her name.

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