Helen Lois Hammans was born November 9, 1923 at the farm home east of Arispe in Union county, Iowa. She was the youngest of five daughters born to Curtis and Stella (Allison) Hammans. Her entire childhood was spent on the family farm.
She attended Arispe Consolidated School and graduated from there in 1941. She attended Creston Community College for two years and graduated from there in 1943. She taught school in Murray, Iowa for one year and then she went to Oregon City, Oregon and taught school there for one year in the Oregon City School during World War II. She lived with her sister, Alison and husband Floyd during this time.
The summer of 1945 she returned to Iowa and married her childhood sweetheart, Lester ‘Joe’ Gross, who had just returned from overseas duty from the Pacific Theater of the war aboard the USS CAPPS. They were married July 20, 1945 in the front yard of her parents’ farm home.
To this union were born three children, Joen Allison, Jack Alan and Jayne Ann Gross.
In 1956, after the children were in school, Helen returned to the teaching profession and taught in the Mount Ayr Community school system for 29 years. During this time she also completed her four-year college education and graduated from Drake University in 1967 with a bachelor of science degree in education. It was a profession especially suited to Helen because of her love of children.
She was past worthy matron of the Order of Eastern Star, a past president of P.E.O. and a member of the United Methodist Church where she was a Sunday school teacher and served on several committees. She also belonged to American Legion Auxiliary and Past Matrons Club.
Helen passed away on November 6, 2010 at the Mount Ayr Health Care Center. She was preceded in death by her parents; four sisters; her husband, Joe, in 2004, and daughter, Jayne Ann Rivera who died of leukemia in 1990 at the age of 37.
Left to cherish her memory are daughter, Joen and husband Larry Brown of Mount Ayr, Iowa; son, Jack and wife Marlene Gross of Des Moines, Iowa; grandchildren, Melanie Gross of Kansas City, Missouri, Jason (Dia) Gross of Urbandale, Iowa, Dustin (Kathy) Brown of Odessa, Texas, T.J. Brown of Des Moines, Iowa and Joe (Angela) Rivera of Boone, Iowa; great-grandchildren, Lucy and Zoey Gross of Urbandale, Iowa, Courtney Herriott of Marietta, Oklahoma, Tiffany (Jason) Lucas of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Natalie (Toby) Greathouse of San Antonio, Texas and Jake Mallas of Boone, Iowa; great-great-grandchildren, Makayla, Makenzi and Clayton Herriott of Marietta, Oklahoma, Braiden Sigler and Mason Greathouse of San Antonio, Texas and Payton Lucas of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and a host of friends.
Memorials are to the United Methodist Church and the Mount Ayr Methodist Sunday school. Watson-Armstrong Funeral Home in Mount Ayr was in charge of the arrangements.
Services were held at the United Methodist Church in Mount Ayr Wednesday, November 10, 2010, with Rev. Skip Rushing officiating. Musicians were Deb Cannon and John Allen.
Casket bearers included Jason Gross, Dustin Brown, TJ Brown, Joseph Rivera, Joe Rivera and Nathan Howie.
Helen was laid at rest in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Mount Ayr.
Our mother was, and always will be
The essence of all that is good, to me.
She epitomized both charm and grace
And her love for her family glowed in her face.
There was much more to Mother than met the eyes,
She was much stronger than you realize.
Her patience was awesome, her kindness sublime.
No matter how busy, she always had time
To lend a sympathetic ear
Or soothe a pain or dry a tear.
She taught us to stand on our own two feet,
But helped us back up when we thought we were beat.
She stood by us all, through life’s many duels.
Our Mother was one of God’s most precious jewels.
She saw the good in everyone.
She stayed young at heart, was witty and fun.
She had a strong faith, and was very devout,
And never complained as her body wore out.
Thank you Lord, for giving us this special soul
We miss her, but know that You’ve now made her whole.
She’s finally free from her physical pain,
Reunited at last with Dad and our Jayne.
I can just see them all, when I close my eyes
Hugging each other in paradise.
No longer bed-ridden, and no longer old,
Dancing with dad on streets paved in gold.
Having her, for a mother, was a blessing, but then
You already know that. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
— Jack Gross