Helen Louise Davis Tess was born February 16, 1920, near the town of Republic, Missouri to Louisa Adaline Little Davis and Walter McKinley Davis. She departed for her eternal home on August 23, 2020, from Bozeman, Montana – six months after her 100th birthday. Although Helen suffered some age-related disabilities, she continued to walk and live independently until just a few weeks before her death.
Helen’s parents were farmers and raised corn and wheat. Helen’s early years were spent in the fields with her mother and father. As farming and the economy in Missouri was difficult, the Davis family made several treks to California to find work – traveling Route 66 in a Model T. The first trip was made when Helen was only three years old, the next when she was six.
The next year the family returned to Missouri where they remained until Helen was in the 8th grade. She attended a one-room school, Wise Hill School. Their last move to California brought them to Ontario where they rented a gas station/store with an attached home. Helen worked part-time in the store and graduated from Chaffey High School in 1938.
After high school, Helen worked for a Los Angeles newspaper. It was during this time that her friend, Betty, introduced her to her husband’s friend, Arthur Tess, who would become the love of her life. Art and Helen were married on April 4, 1941.
Art worked at Lockheed building bombers for the war which would defer him until he was drafted in 1944. Most of Art’s deployment time was spent in Buchen, Germany in the Army Counter Intelligence Corps. After Art’s service in the army was completed, Art and Helen, along with her parents, went into the poultry business in Ontario.
Their son, Michael, was born in 1949 followed by their daughter, Katherine, in 1951. In 1954 the poultry business was moved to Alta Loma, Art building a home and the chicken housing and, soon after, a home for Helen’s parents on the property which included a lemon grove. In 1963 the ranch was sold and they built again a few miles north. Art and Helen finished their working years employed by the Chaffey School District.
After retiring in 1975, Art and Helen traveled extensively in their motor home as well as cruising through the Panama Canal and to Alaska and the Caribbean. A highlight was a trip to France and Germany with Mike and Kathy, which included a visit to Buchen and even finding the house where Art lived while in the army.
In 1994 they moved to Victorville. About ten years later they moved to into an assisted living facility in Apple Valley where Art passed away in late 2004. Helen moved to Bozeman to live with Mike and Kathy in 2005, then moved into an assisted living facility in November 2014 where she lived until her passing.
Helen was a faithful Christian and was always an active member of the Church of Christ wherever she lived. Art and Helen spent many years in the church in Upland and Victorville, and for the past 15 years, Helen worshipped in Bozeman. She loved people and cherished her friendships.
Helen was a loving and supportive mother and grandmother. When grandchildren began arriving, she and Art traveled to the San Joaquin Valley, Montana, Nebraska, and North Carolina to see them. Visiting her second set of grandchildren involved flying to the top of an island in a small plane. Helen had a special relationship with her grandchildren and spent lots of time with all of them.
Helen is survived by her son, Mike and his wife, Kathy; her daughter, Kate and her husband, Oley; and six grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren. She leaves a beautiful legacy of faith, love, family, and loyalty.
A memorial service will be announced for mid- to late September in Bozeman.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com [dokkennelson.com]