Helen Marjorie Heaps

Helen Marjorie Heaps Maury
 August 5, 1905 – December 20, 1975
by Marjorie (Janny)

My mother was the middle child of a large family of 11.  She was born in Salt Lake City but the family eventually moved to Pocatello.  I would best describe Mother as being a “caregiver” for most of her life.  As with most large families, the older children assist their parents caring for the younger children and other added duties such as cooking and cleaning.  It was a very close family and with her mother’s declining health she became even closer to her younger siblings.  She was nicknamed “Kelly” because of her red hair and feisty disposition.

She was married on December 21, 1929 to Oscar Lafayette Maury, called Lee Maury by his friends and family.  Their first child was a “blue baby” and only lived a few hours after birth. I was born on November 5, 1932 and my brother, Wesley Golden, fifteen months later on January 25, 1934.  The story I am told as to how we acquired our names is that Mother wanted to name me Sadie Ann but my father didn’t like that name so he named me after my mother and my grandmother, Marjorie Ann. My brother was named after the bishop. We both had nick names which stuck with us until we were each married. Mine was Janny and my brother’s was Buddy. We were born during the depression and my father couldn’t find a permanent job, working day jobs where he could.  He traveled with his father to another state to find work and didn’t return. 

My earliest memories are of my grandfather living with Aunt Rachel and Mother in West Pocatello. I remember him reading to us and playing ball in the yard. Mother and Grandpa took us to Ross Park to see the wild animals and the buffalo.  We would spend the day having a picnic and wading in the creek at Mink Creek, searching for treasures such as pine cones.  I don’t have any recollection of certain dates during this period but Buddy remembers that Grandpa fell at Cherry Creek, breaking his leg and that he cried when they wouldn’t give him Grandpa’s cast to keep.  He also remembers Mother telling us that Grandpa drank his coffee in a saucer instead of a cup and wouldn’t eat toast unless it was burned first…he would scrape off the burn and then butter the toast before he would eat it.

Mother was an excellent seamstress and made most of our clothes. She dressed Buddy and I alike when we were little, so most people thought we were twins. Uncle Wally and his future wife, Marie, were to be married in California and the entire family drove there for the wedding. My cousin, Virginia Dean (Sis), and I were the flower girls at their wedding.  My most vivid memory is that of coming home from school when I was eight seeing my grandfather asleep in his chair. I found out later that day that he had passed away in his sleep.

Mother married Jens Johnson in the summer of 1941. Jens was an engineer with the Union Pacific Railroad.  Aunt Rachel eloped with Paul McClellan, Susan’s father, in 1942 and divorced shortly thereafter when she became pregnant. Aunt Rachel and her baby daughter, Susan, relocated to California and remarried Glen Rowe in 1945. My cousin, Leona, lived with us on and off over the years as Mother had become her “mother figure” who she looked to for advice and comfort.

Since Jens worked for the railroad we had free passes on the train anywhere in the US. We took the train to Twin Falls often where Aunt Eva lived and we would stay with Aunt Mary and Uncle Victor at their farm in Filer each summer. Claudia would come down too and we would have such good times swimming in the river and playing in the hay stacks.  We did our share of work too since there is a lot to do on a farm.  We learned to milk, clean stalls, and feed the chickens.  Summers were good times and Aunt Mary was the world’s greatest cook.  After they relocated to El Monte I remember Mother taking us on trips to visit Aunt Mary and Uncle Victor on their dairy farm and also to San Francisco to visit Uncle Avard and his family. After Uncle Avard’s serious injury in San Francisco he lived with Uncle Wally and Aunt Marie to recuperate. 

We lived in a house across the street from Idaho State College during most of our school years.  Our father revisited his family in our early school years   He then made regular visits back and forth to visit us from where he then lived in Reno, and we spent some wonderful summers with him when he moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Honey always had a dog as far back as I can remember…a red Cocker Spaniel she called Nappy. 

They purchased a half acre in North Pocatello where they intended to build Mother’s dream house. Jens quit the railroad and became a stone mason. He built a small cottage on the property where we lived while he finished the rock house.    His business prospered and building the house became a weekend project.

My father bought Buddy a horse named Cricket and he became an avid rider, and with new friends spent their free time riding in the hills behind the property.

In 1950 I married Dale Garritson and we moved to Blackfoot, Idaho.   A few years after Buddy’s graduation in1952, Mother and Jens divorced and they relocated to Montebello where they lived in an apartment close to Aunt Rachel and Aunt Virgie.  Our family, which now included two children, Michael and Laurie, moved to Salt Lake City where Dale worked for the telephone company and attended the University there in the evenings.

Aunt Rachel, Uncle Glen and Susan came to visit us and on their way back home had a tragic automobile accident. Glen was killed and Rachel had several broken bones including her hip. Mother and Buddy then moved to the apartment house Rachel and Glen owned and Mother took care of Rachel and Susan.  Rachel had been very ill with cancer prior to the accident and was then bedridden due to the accident. 

Dale was transferred to Los Angeles in 1956. Buddy met Carol Smith at the apartment complex and shortly thereafter they married. Aunt Rachel passed away that year and Uncle Ed who was the executor of the estate had Susan come to live with their family.   Mother came to live with us and took care of our children while I worked. Buddy and Carol were only married a short time and Buddy was then drafted in the Army and was stationed in Germany for two years. After his return they remarried and moved to La Mirada, only to divorce again.

Mother didn’t want to be called Grandmother or Grandma and told the kids to call her Helen.  Our oldest, Michael, couldn’t say Helen as a baby and it sounded like “Honya” so she became Honey to everyone from that time forward.  Allison and Guy were born in Covina.  We were all so blessed to have Mother with us…she was the best grandmother ever.

Buddy met Mary Lou Shum, a single mother with a young daughter, Mardonna.  They married and moved to Whittier and then had a home built in Hacienda Heights. Mother fell and broke not only her hip but her right wrist.  Her hip had to be pinned and she couldn’t take care of herself since she was bedridden. I couldn’t stay home to care for her so she had to spend six months in a nursing home nearby. When she was able to come home and take care of herself after a long recuperation period she purchased a mobile home located half way between Buddy and Mary Lou’s house and ours. Between Buddy and our family we saw her at least once a week.  We talked on the phone daily and she met new friends at the park. I don’t remember Mother being any happier than she was during those few years; being self sufficient and in her own home.  Honey always enjoyed gardening and would rather be outside than inside. She had beautiful flowers surrounding her home and always a bouquet inside as well.  Honey’s favorite pastime in the evening was watching the Los Angeles Dodgers on TV and she loved watching wrestling.  When she didn’t have anything else to do you would see her sitting at the kitchen table playing Solitaire.

Mother always told us, and we believed her, that she would live to be 100. On her 70th birthday we planned a big birthday party for her at the club house where she lived.  Her friends and neighbors from the park and all the relatives who lived in California came to her party. Shortly before Christmas that year we stopped by to pick her up to take her shopping with us but she said she wasn’t feeling well and decided not to go.  That night—in the middle of the night I received a call from my cousin, Leona, who told me she had been trying to call her all night and there was no answer. I called her neighbor to check on her only to find out that she had had a stroke and passed away.  This was such a shock to everyone who knew her because she was so happy, had been in such good health, looked trim and fit, and had just had a good physical examination two weeks prior. 

She was a wonderful mother who cared more for the needs of others over her own.  There isn’t a single day that goes by that I don’t think of her.

Helen Marjorie Heaps

Helen & Lee Maury

Buddy & Janny

Daughter, Marjorie
aka “Janny”

Son, Wesley
aka “Buddy”

Buddy & Cricket

Helen’s 70th Birthday


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Helen with granddaughter, Allison
taken about 1974