Helena was born on Oct. 24, 1931 in Marion, IL to Fred and Mildred Kelton. The Kelton family moved to Poplar Bluff and she attended Elementary through High School there. Helena’s Father, Fred, loved Tootsie Roll’s, thus Helena’s nickname of “ Tootsie” that stuck with her during her lifetime. She met and married her husband, Francis W Gardner on May 14, 1948 while he was still in the Army Air Corps. On Aug. 6, 1951 they welcomed a daughter, Brenda Francene.
Francis. Helena and Brenda moved to Santa Monica, CA in 1955. They found jobs and raised Brenda in CA. In early 1970 they moved back to Poplar Bluff and purchased her Father and Mother’s vending machine business, F & M Vending. They retired and sold the business in the 1980’s, and eventually became “Snowbirds”. Francis and Helena traveled extensively throughout the United States in an RV until Francis’ death in 1996.
Helena enjoyed learning anything new and fixing things. She worked on creating and fixing jewelry. She also did stained glass and created many beautiful pieces. Helena volunteered for RSVP and was in a garden club. She enjoyed Friday night dinners out, playing cards and dominos with friends and was a member of the Highland Drive Church of Christ.
Helena lost her long fought battle with Cancer on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 with her daughter by her side. There will be a short service graveside on Friday, July 31, 2020 at 11 am at the Poplar Bluff City Cemetery. Helena requested no flowers and in lieu of that, donations to St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
Cotrell Funeral Service is honored to serve the family of Helena Gardner.
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