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Helen Lee Stewart Estes

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Posted: Wednesday, October 9, 2019 2:11 pm

Helen Lee Stewart Estes passed away peacefully on Oct. 6, 2019 at the age of 105 years. Helen Estes was born June 16, 1914, in Barstow, Texas to Albert Lee and Leila Ann O’Kelley Stewart.  She spent the first five years of her life in Barstow until her family returned to Midland, Texas in 1919, where Helen attended school for the first time. At the time, she did not know that schools and teaching would be her life-long legacy. 

She went on to graduate from Midland High School in May of 1932. Upon graduation, Helen was asked by the Midland County School Board to take the school census. Helen traveled on horseback to all the farms, ranches, and homes in Midland County to register children for school. 

She began her journey as a teacher in several of the small country schools in the county such as Pleasant Valley, Stephenson, and Valley View.

Helen pursued a degree from Sul Ross State Teacher’s College, graduating in 1940. That same year, she met the love of her life, and married Jim Estes. Helen continued to teach and substitute while Jim was serving in World War II. Helen taught at John M Cowden Junior High School, and was a substitute teacher at Mineral Wells while Jim was serving in World War II.  Following the war, the couple moved to Pyote, Texas, where Jim farmed and she taught school. 

In 1947, they moved to Pecos, and then to Van Horn, where she taught junior high math and became very involved in the junior rodeo. For their final move, Jim and Helen moved back to Midland in 1974, and she substitute taught in Greenwood until 1997. 

Helen and Jim loved to travel, and visited most every state. After his passing, Helen continued to travel, visiting Alaska, Belgium, Austria, England, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Scotland, and Switzerland. Even as Helen neared the century mark, she was living life to the fullest, celebrating her birthdays by riding motorcycles and going on hot air balloon rides. 

In 2014 and being 100 years old, in full cap and gown, Helen walked across the stage and received a Doctor of Education degree from Sul Ross State University (the first doctorate ever awarded at Sul Ross) for her almost 60 years of outstanding service to education.

Helen was preceeded in death by her husband Jim in 1998; both parents; two brothers, Woodrow Wilson “Bud” Stewart and Albert Lewis Stewart; and four sisters, Lillian Lucille Sikes, Annie Tennie Anderson, Martha Nancy Wilkerson, and Mabel Opal Hinson. She is survived by two sisters, Johnnie Thompson of Midland, and Jeanette Ramsey of Alpine, and one sister-in-law, Sue Stewart of San Angelo, Texas, along with many nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, and loving friends. 

Visitation for Helen Estes was Oct. 8, 2019 at Ellis Funeral Home, and funeral service was Oct. 9,2019 at First Christian Church in Midland. 

Helen had a loving and generous heart, and loved to entertain and be entertained. She never met a stranger, and loved people for who they were, uniquely and individually. She celebrated life every day of her life. 

Helen Estes was a long-time member of the First Christian Church (Disciples in Christ) where she worshiped and served. Helen was a vivacious woman and a great storyteller, and she leaves a legacy to countless students whom she taught all across West Texas. Her family was everything, but above all she loved her God.

Her family requests that donations be sent to Star Care Hospice, 620 North Grant Avenue #100, Odessa, Texas 79761.