Cover photo for Helen R Brant's Obituary
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1921 Helen 2020

Helen R Brant

October 30, 1921 — December 30, 2020

Helen Richadene Brant, of Bainbridge Island, WA, passed away December 30, 2020, at home, with her daughter, son in law, granddaughter and grandson in law in attendance in her last hours.

Helen was born October 30, 1921, in Ringold County, Iowa, to Vergie Grace and Ralph Waldo Thomas. Helen and her brothers Russell, Lynn, Donald, and Neil grew up on the family farm. In those days neighbors and friends helped each other with critical needs such as raising barns, making sorghum molasses, and harvesting.

Helen's first job after high school was teaching at a country school. In 1942, she and her friend, Betty Burchett, moved to Stockton, California and got work at a diner. The diner was frequented by new Army recruits from the local base. Helen finally accepted a date with Kenneth Leroy Brant, who also was raised on a farm. A whirlwind romance ensued, and they were married in 1943. Their son Kenneth Val was born later that year. Helen remembered their finances were so meager during that time that their choices for dinner were beans or tomato soup. Kenneth might bring home leftovers from the mess hall if they were lucky.

The new family began their military life with tours in Texas and Nebraska. While Kenneth was stationed in Japan during the Occupation, Helen and Val stayed with her parents in Iowa.

Next tour was Puerto Rico, where daughter Vickie was born. Next moves were Florida, Louisiana, France, and Delaware. In 1960 Kenneth was sent to South Korea, as Base Chief of Police on the DMZ. Helen and the kids moved back to Iowa that year- Vickie went to Benton School, Val graduated from Mt Ayr High School.

Upon Kenneth's return from South Korea, the family was thrilled to be sent to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. In 1963 Kenneth was diagnosed with colon cancer and medically retired. Anticipating Kenneth's worsening health, the family landed back in Stockton, California, where close relatives lived.

Kenneth beat the odds, and lived another 40 years, working in the military supply sector. Helen took classes at Stockton Jr College,
where she and her son Val would pass each other on the campus. Helen worked as a babysitter, for Montgomery Ward, Weight Watchers, and clerking at Defense Depot Tracy and Forest Service. Helen and Ken spent many hours advocating for veteran and societal issues, writing letters to newspapers, local lawmakers, and those in Washington D.C. They enjoyed trips in their motorhome, especially fishing on the Klamath River with old friends.

Helen was an enthusiastic in law, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, and great aunt. She loved being around young people. She embraced the computer. She became interested in genealogy, researching and compiling records and pictures from relatives as far away as Sweden.

She went to pool exercise until she was 98.
She was an expert at jigsaw puzzles and solitaire.
She loved babysitting her grand and great-grandchildren, helping in the garden, bird and squirrel watching, spoiling everyone's pets, and trading snappy remarks with anyone willing to engage.

She had ongoing banter with the wonderful staff at Wyatt House, who kept her supplied with cookies and encouraged her during the pandemic isolation. A visit to Dr.Jennifer Newman and staff was a highlight despite Helen's maladies, due to their considerate and respectful care.

Several falls left Helen bedridden and she rapidly declined. She became nonverbal, but continued to engage for a time with eyebrow-raising, pointing, and other hand gestures, causing her family to break into laughter, laughter that was much needed during that time. The family appreciated very much the services of CHI Hospice.

Helen was predeceased by her brothers, spouse Kenneth (2004), son Val (2013), and daughter in law Judy. Helen is survived by daughter Vickie (Richard) Crockett, granddaughters Michele (Brad) Hudson, Alexandra (Marty) Crockett of California, great-grandsons Sage and Reilly; Marietta (John) Risdon Crockett; and grandson Steve (Janel) Laufman and family, of South Dakota.

Interment will take place in Lodi, Calif, at a later date.

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