Helen Wythe, daughter of Frank and Nellie Daley Wythe, sister of Leroy Wythe was connected to Fulton for nearly 100 years. She was born August 10, 1893, and died in March 1993. Her obituary says she was born in Clinton, but a photo inscription says “The house I was born in. Fulton. Helen Wythe.”
Helen completed her formal education at FHS in 1910, 2 years after Roy had finished. The class was comprised of four females, Priscilla Lockhart, Hilda Opheim, Helen Perry and Helen Wythe, and one male, Bert Sterenberg. The commencement exercises were held in the Opera House on June 10, 1910. The speaker was Dr. William A. Colledge, for many years a scientific instructor in the Armour Institute of Chicago. His 50 minute speech was entitled “Second Fiddles” The Fulton Journal reporter lamented that the members of the class had no part in the program as a separate class day had been set aside for the class will or prophecy and for a speech by the valedictorian. The reporter said, “Good lectures are invaluable for instruction and as an aid to an up-lift in life educationally and otherwise, but they do not as a rule reach the common people and the schools are for all the people and the closing exercises offers a great opportunity for arousing and maintaining interest in our public schools and fostering a proper pride in them.”
The two Wythe children Roy and Helen had successfully completed high school, one in 1908, the other in 1910. Obviously, formal education was a family value.
In 1917 at age 24 when her mother Nellie Daley died, Helen lived at home. Frank remarried two years later and when Frances Wythe died in 1934, Mrs. Helen Wythe Pope had come from her home in Los Angeles to assist in the home. (Roy was also living in LA at that time.)
Between 1934 and 1947 Helen divorced, resumed the name of Wythe and returned to Fulton. Her father, Frank, was ill and confined to his bed for nearly five years and Helen cared for him.
Helen was a bookkeeper for Noble Garage and Baker Ford. She was a member of the Fulton Presbyterian Church and a 75 year member of Eastern Star. One Fultonian also remembers her as a waitress at Bush’s restaurant. Another says she was outgoing, friendly, and fun.
Helen (Barney) Sikkema cared for Helen in the years preceding her nursing home stay and the Sikkemas bought the Wythe house on 13th Avenue and tore it down.
From 1947 until she died in 1993, Helen built her family around people other than immediate relatives for Roy was in California, her parents were dead, and she was divorced. Cousins, friends, co-workers, and neighbors became her family as she shaped her life and life shaped her in Fulton, Illinois.