Helen Mary Sturges, frequent visitor, former property owner and mother of long-time Park City residents Don and Dave Sturges, passed away peacefully on Jan. 22, 2007, at the age of 91 in Visalia, Calif. She was born in Elburn, Ill., on Oct. 16, 1915, to Coit Warren and Maude Spalding. She attended North Illinois College (now Northwestern University). In 1955, she was one of the first women admitted to Cal Poly University, formerly an all-men’s college. She obtained a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.
While working at Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, Calif., she met and married Paul Sturges. They made Arroyo Grande, Calif., their home in 1946, where, in 1948, they owned and operated Fair Oaks Drug Store. Helen began a teaching career in 1954 at the Pismo Elementary School, "graduating" with her 1959 class to Arroyo Grande High School where she taught English. She earned a counseling credential and became a full-time counselor. She spent several summers as a guide at Hearst Castle. In 1976, Helen "retired" into real estate and worked until the age of 86. She was honored as Realtor of the Year in 1985.
Helen was always an active member of the community, serving on the local school board, and as president of the local chapter of the California Teachers Association. She was president of the AFS Adult Committee and, over the years, took several foreign students into her home. When she retired, she became a member of the California Retired Teachers Association. The association now presents an annual scholarship in her name.
In 1983, she was president of the Pismo Coast Board of Realtors, the first realtor-associate member to hold that position. She was a member and past president of the Arroyo Grande Women’s Club. She was a member and past president of the Rotary Club and was honored with two Paul Harris Fellowships. She was a member of the St. Barnabas Episcopal Church.
Helen enjoyed traveling and visited many countries in Europe and the Orient, as well as the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, Kenya and Pakistan, treasuring and continuing the friendships she made along the way. She also enjoyed reading, playing golf and bridge and doing crossword puzzles. She is lovingly referred to by her inland grandchildren and great-grandchildren as "Grandma Coast."
Helen was preceded in death by her husband, Paul, in 1981. She is survived by sons: David Sturges of Arroyo Grande; Don (Susan) Sturges of La Quinta, Calif.; daughter and former Park City resident, Patti Reese of Visalia; grandchildren: Richard (Shelley) Reese of Visalia; Christopher (Rebekah) of Visalia; and Dustin Sturges of Salt Lake City, formerly of Park City; great-grandchildren: Colston Reese, Logan Reese, Makenzie Reese, Christian Rolfo, Allen Reese and Paul Reese, all of Visalia; and several nieces and nephews.
A memorial service was held on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2007 in Grover Beach, Calif. Memorials may be made to St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Arroyo Grande or to a favorite charity.
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