Helen Heard Etheridge

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Memories & Candles

“What a wonderful woman, teacher and kind spirit. My condolences to all. ”
1 of 8 | Posted by: Melissa Wimmer - Richmond, VA

“My condolences to the family. Mrs. E was a wonderful teacher and I remember her fondly. And her daughter Annie was a truly wonderful young lady I had...Read More »
2 of 8 | Posted by: Ron Wells - Danville, VA

“I am shocked to learn this news. Such a sweet beautiful lady . My prayers and sympathy to this family. ”
3 of 8 | Posted by: Arlene Creasy - Gretna, VA

“Dear Janet,You have your mothers smile! My deepest condolences to your entire family all over the world. Sounds like your mother had a lot of moxie!...Read More »
4 of 8 | Posted by: Julia Mayne - San Rafael, CA

“Helen, with her beauty and grace, could charm the birds right out of the trees. I remember her so vividly from our days at GW High School. And after...Read More »
5 of 8 | Posted by: Julian Koplen - Myrtle Beach, SC

“So sorry for your loss. ”
6 of 8 | Posted by: Victoria Boddington - Greenbrae, CA

“The kindest and sweetest and most gentle woman I've ever known. She lived her life in grace and beauty. Thank you Helen, for giving me the best...Read More »
7 of 8 | Posted by: Laquita Matthews - Barryville, NY

“I want to thank Helen, who is so beautiful in this photograph of her younger self, for having Annie who is like a sister to me, who saved me when I...Read More »
8 of 8 | Posted by: Maggie Steber - Miami, FL


Helen Heard Etheridge died peacefully on April 29, 2019 in Lynchburg, Virginia surrounded by family.

A native of Danville, Virginia, she was an independent, free spirit before the term was ever coined. Helen lost her father when she just 8 years old – and often spoke of the difficulties growing up during the Great Depression as an only child.

Her mother, Lila Coleman Heard, worked all during her daughter's childhood – and Helen described herself as an early, latchkey kid, getting herself to-and-from school on her own.

While attending George Washington High School, she was admired for the dimples in her cheeks, her beautiful, red hair and her talent as an artist. As a senior, classmates voted her the wittiest girl on campus.

Following her graduation, she attended Mary Washington University in Fredericksburg, Virginia and studied art. During that time, she met Herbert Etheridge while on a beach trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. They married in 1952, settled back in Danville and had four children.

Helen later finished her art degree at Averett University and went on to teach at O.T. Bonner Middle School for some 20 years.

In 1988 she left, surprising her family and friends by joining the Peace Corps. Helen served for more than a year in Ghana, West Africa, as an art professor. The experience was a source of great pride for her – and enduring inspiration for her family.

She traveled extensively across five continents – and shared that zest of wanderlust with her children and grandchildren, who now live and work in six different countries around the world.

Helen moved from Danville to Lynchburg in 2012 and lived an active life there until her recent death.

She is survived by her children: Patricia Etheridge of Mexico City, Mexico, Tom Etheridge of San Francisco, Annie Etheridge of Marseille, France and Janet Etheridge Boddington of San Rafael, California.

She also leaves five grandchildren: Coleman Burke of Stockholm, Sweden, Willie Burke of San Anselmo, California, Max Boddington of San Rafael, California, Micah Etheridge Plott of Atlanta and Julia Rose Etheridge Plott of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

In addition, her beloved cousin, Betsy Deaton of Greensboro, North Carolina and her best friend of many years, David "Hutch" Hutcheson of Danville, Virginia.

A memorial service – followed by visitation – will be held Saturday, May 4 at 2 p.m. at Tharp Funeral Home, 220 Breezewood Drive Lynchburg, VA 24502 – (434) 237-9424.