Helen Marie Clevenger, 97, of Harrisonville, formerly of Pleasant Hill, was born February 8, 1922, Hatfield, Missouri. She departed this life, Sunday, May 12, 2019, at her home in Harrisonville, surrounded with love and family.
Helen was born the first child of Elvie Cecil and Edna Mae (Wooden) Lovitt. The family quickly grew as her brothers and sister were born: Carlyle Leroy, Hannah Francine, Ashford Jack and finally Loren Doyle. When Helen was nine years old, their mother sadly died of typhoid fever, leaving the five children.
Helen received her Public School Diploma to show that she had completed the required course of study, and was entitled to enter high school on May 15th, 1937, which was 82 years ago this week. By the time Helen was 14 her dad had remarried, and added a half-sister, Virginia, to the family. Her dad later married Martha, and another sister, Sharon, joined the family.
Helen married Claton Clevenger, Sr. To this union were born three children: Beverly Ann, Claton “CF” Franklin, and Mary Lou. Helen was a devoted mother, who worked hard throughout her life, on the farm and on assembly lines. She grew up in Northern Missouri, and moved to the Pleasant Hill area in 1958. She was a member of the (Shuttleworth) First Baptist Church of Pleasant Hill.
Helen enjoyed cooking, quilting, gardening, and spending time with family and friends. Until her vision faded, she enjoyed playing cards with her neighbors. Her porch was a popular place, where friends would gather to visit. She was well-known for her colorful flower boxes, her sharp mind and welcoming spirit.
Helen particularly enjoyed feeding her family. Every Monday night, right up until she passed, her adult children gathered with her for a weekly meal. Helen kept her family close. She made each family member feel valued and special, and they never left her home empty-handed. She made quilts with all her grandchildren, and taught them to make homemade pies, cookies and baked goods. On one occasion, she famously made 80 apple pies in an afternoon, and stocked a beloved family member’s freezer with homemade goodness to last through the year. Throughout her life, Helen canned all her own vegetables to sustain her and others year-round. In her later years, from her little garden behind her home, Helen harvested a plethora of vegetables, which she generously shared with others. From this little garden, her only grandson would receive 100 quarts of canned tomatoes, to enjoy all the year through. In many marvelous ways, Helen knew how to cultivate an abundance out of very little. She faced each new day with a positive outlook, as she spoke to and encouraged her children every morning. Adversity did not limit her; instead, Helen embraced every opportunity to live and love with generosity.
Helen was preceded in death by her parents Elvie and Edna; her siblings, Carlyle, Jack, Loren, and Francine; her grandson, Richard Murphy; and her great nephew Brian Young.
She is survived, loved and cherished by three children Beverly Ann (and Don) Byrd, Cla (and Eloise) Clevenger, Mary Lou (and Barry) Murphy; five grandchildren: Kevin (and Brenda)Byrd, Kim (and Larry) Spiess, Suzan(and Jay) Newland, Shara (and Jonathan) Brice & Alisa Quest; seventeen great grandchildren: Eric Byrd, Ashley (and Dustin)Young, Ryan Byrd, Briar Byrd, Caleb Byrd, Wyatt Byrd, Tiffani (and Josh)Crawford, Donny (and Gretchen) Spiess, Josh (and Erica) Spiess, Crichelle Brice, Joel Brice, Kaydrin Quest, Matthew Quest, Russ Newland, Nate(Halie) Newland, Cal Newland, Will Newland; and nine great-great grandchildren: Kimberli, Kayli and Kenzli Crawford; Alexa, Elly and Isaiah Spiess; Addy and Lincoln Spiess and Brooks Young. Helen is also survived by a sister-in-law, Wilma Lovitt, her sister Sharon, and her beloved nieces and nephew.
Helen’s generous heart adopted many more as honorary children, grandchildren and family members. The family is grateful for Helen’s kind neighbors and for her helper Laura, who all worked together to help her live independently into her 97th year of life. The ICU team at Cass Regional Medical Center and the Ascend Hospice team made her final days forever meaningful for the family.
A Celebration of Helen’s Life was held on Thursday, May 16th at the Stanley-Dickey Funeral Home, Pleasant Hill, Missouri. Burial is in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery. Helen’s great grandchildren will serve as casket bearers.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Helen’s honor are to be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and may be sent in care of the funeral home.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.stanleydickeyfuneralhome.com
Arrangements: Stanley-Dickey Funeral Home, 203 N. Armstrong St., Pleasant Hill, Missouri 64080 (816) 540-5550.