Helen P. Geyer
Helen Geyer and Glenn E. Geyer Sr. are pictured in November 1994 at the wedding of their son, Glenn Jr. (Submitted photo / August 18, 2012)
“She always made sure we had what we needed,” said oldest child Diane Kittell of Greencastle, Pa. “She always made us feel special.”
Ray said occasionally, dinner consisted only of corn on the cob, which he thought was a treat, not realizing that’s all they had.
“She did whatever it took,” Gisele said.
Helen went to work as a seamstress at Dorbee Manufacturing Co. when Diane was 14, after the family moved to Hagerstown. She retired in 1986 at age 62. She also sewed clothes for her children.
“She managed to get me a nice graduation dress and new prom dresses,” Diane said. “I don’t know how she did it.
“She wasn’t just my mother, but she was my friend.”
Diane looked forward to the weekly grocery shopping trips she and her mother scheduled, just to spend time together.
Despite their finances, Helen always made Christmas special, even as the family grew to include 16 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.
“She went to the dollar store and made sure everybody had something,” Gisele said.
One year, Helen made each family member a throw pillow, choosing fabric that reflected them. She hosted the Christmas gathering as long as her health allowed.
About a year before Glenn’s death in 1995, the couple moved to Myersville, Md., and lived near Glenn Jr. As Helen’s health began failing, she returned to Hagerstown and lived with son Jeff until he no longer could take care of her due to strokes and dementia that plagued her.
Helen moved into a nursing home for the last year-and-a-half of her life.
Church was important to Helen. She was raised Methodist, but joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1963 since that was Glenn’s religious tradition.
“She used to teach Sunday school,” Diane said. “She was there for whatever they needed her to do.”
“We went two, three times a week to church,” Ray said. “You had to be on your death bed to get out of it.”
The denomination believes in eternal marriage after death, so it was important to Helen that the couple be married in the Washington, D.C., temple, which they were on Dec. 3, 1993, more than 50 years after their first wedding. Their first wedding was in the church at the corner of Summit Avenue and Baltimore Street in Hagerstown.
Helen often did without during her life, but as her health deteriorated, her family satisfied her love for ice cream, especially Dairy Queen banana splits.
“She never gave up her faith, even when she was going downhill,” Gisele said.
“She was the sweetest, most selfless person I have known,” granddaughter Jessi Smith said in an email about her “Mema.” “She always gave and never expected anything in return. She did not judge. She loved you no matter who you were. If I can become half the woman she was, I will have accomplished something in my life.”
Editor’s note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail runs “A Life Remembered.” Each story in this continuing series takes a look back — through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others — at a member of the community who died recently. Today’s “A Life Remembered” is about Helen P. Geyer, who died July 25 at the age of 87. Her obituary was published in the July 27 edition of The Herald-Mail.