Helen H. Johns
March 29, 1922 – June 26, 2018
Helen was born in the central Pennsylvania coal country town of Frackville, where she spent her childhood through her high school graduation in 1939. Once out of high school a spirit of wanderlust inspired her to move to New York City where she took up residence in a females only apartment building and worked as an insurance company typist—one of a hundred women typists working in one big room surrounded by the industrial clatter of pre- World War II manual typewriters coupled with the acrid smells of carbon copy paper and typewriter ribbon ink lingering in the air.
Time passed and like an old friend wanderlust again paid Helen a visit. On a vacation lark she and a friend from work took a cross country train ride to Los Angeles. That trip became a fateful event as she found a job in the city of angels and went on to meet her future husband Leonard, a young South Bend, Indiana guy who had arrived in LA with stars in his eyes to seek movie studio work. Following a brief courtship the two were wed and in 1944 had their first child before moving to New York City in search of opportunity. That move was followed by a 1946 relocation to Dallas, Texas–a then middling sized North Texas city where they bought their first house and ultimately the metropolitan area in which they were to spend the remainder of their lives. The friendships made in that postwar enclave of tiny frame houses in Oak Cliff went on to be deep and lifelong in duration. Their second child was born at Dallas’ St Paul’s Hospital in 1948.
The bulk of Helen’s work career was spent as an office manager in the downtown Dallas offices of the National Jewish Hospital, a place where, though a gentile, she also went on to form lifelong bonds and friendships with fellow workers.
A 1960’s era build it yourself dream which started as a lake cabin on newly created Lake Grapevine expanded into a full size build it yourself house through the mid 1960’s and in 1969 Helen and husband Leonard became official residents of the recently incorporated town of Flower Mound—a community of seventeen hundred people with exactly two paved roads, no police force and a supermarket located across the dam road in Grapevine TX. Their new neighborhood turned out to be a very social one and both Helen and husband Leonard soon became involved in startup community organizations. Helen became one of the founding members of a charitable group called The Women of Flower Mound where she remained an active member until her death almost a half century later.
During the 1980’s Helen teamed up with a group of locals who’d decided to document the history of the Flower Mound area using word of mouth interviews with many of the area’s long term residents. The project was a couple of years in duration and often found her traveling to local houses with tape recorder in hand to interview people who had been in the area since the turn of the 20th century and then compiling and organizing the data to make the content readable and interesting. The group’s finished work titled Sweet Flower Mound Land was a pricey read for the times and was sold by subscription only with all proceeds being donated to local charities. It is still available at the Flower Mound Public Library.
Relative to the times and the era, Helen Johns was a genuine pioneer woman, an iconic figure who lived an interesting life as a member of the greatest generation and went on to become an enduring part of the cultural foundation of present day Flower Mound. She is survived by a son and daughter.
Those wishing to make donations in Helen’s memory to the Women of Flower Mound organization, per her family’s wishes, may make a direct donation here, or mail to:
Women of Flower Mound,
PO Box 270686,
Flower Mound TX 75027.
Please notate “In memory of Helen Johns” when submitting donations.