Helen Handel Whitson of the Glenaire Retirement Community in Cary, N.C., died May 31, 2011. Born Nov. 18, 1916, in Litchfield, Ill., she was the daughter of James E. and J. Ethel Craig Handel. Her parents and older brother, the Rev. J. Darrel Handel, preceded her in death. She was also preceded in death in 1998 by her beloved husband, Ralph Edward Whitson.
Following graduation from high school in East St. Louis, Ill., and McKendree College in Lebanon, Ill., Helen did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin and began an education career as a Latin teacher. She and Ralph were married in Illinois in 1940 and moved back and forth between Illinois and Arkansas with Ralph’s career at Alcoa. While in Benton, Helen resumed her teaching career for a few years. She and Ralph then moved on with Alcoa to Port Lavaca, Texas; Perth, Western Australia; and Mobile, Ala. After retirement they moved “over the bay” to Point Clear and then settled in Fairhope, Ala. In 1993 she and Ralph became part of the first group of residents at Glenaire in Cary, N.C.
Wherever she called home, Helen was an active member of the community. She stayed busy participating in church activities, church choirs, handbell choirs, Scouts, the Opera Guild in Mobile, and driving for Meals on Wheels. Playing bridge, reading, writing poetry and tennis were leisure time passions. Above all else, she was a Christian and a devoted wife and mother. She was the gracious hostess to scores of family members, friends and dignitaries at home and abroad.
Surviving Helen to cherish her memory are her daughter, Suson Whitson Weinberg and husband, J. Brice Weinberg; a son Bruce Handel Whitson and his wife, Maurie; a son, Craig Talbott Whitson and his wife, Abigail.
Grandchildren surviving are Jason Brice Weinberg and his wife, Julia; Adam Whitson Weinberg and his wife, Betsy; Brett Hayden Whitson; Erin Whitson Hanko and her husband, Tim; Ryan Edward Whitson; Nicole Whitson Stratton and her husband, Jake; and Jenna Helen Whitson. Great-grandchildren include Stella R. Weinberg, Veronica G. Weinberg, Molly B. Weinberg, E. Whitson Weinberg, and Perry J. Stratton.
Also surviving is Helen’s niece, Marie Handel Heter, and her husband, David; three great-nieces and a great-nephew; and four children of Craig’s wife, Abigail.
A memorial service will be held at Glenaire, Monday at 2:30 p.m.
Family comments: Helen’s family wishes to acknowledge and thank the staff of Glenaire for their tender care of Helen, and also thank the Rev. Daniel Lipp for his loyal visitation and support.
In lieu of flowers, gifts in her memory may be directed to the Glenaire Foundation, 4000 Glenaire Circle, Cary, NC 27511; or to the First United Methodist Church of Cary, 117 South Academy St., Cary, NC 27511.
Online guest book: CremationSocietyNC.com.