Helen Holmes Thrall
Helen Holmes Thrall
  • December 11, 1920 - April 20, 2017
  • Boulder, Colorado

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Crist Mortuary

3395 Penrose Place
Boulder, CO 80301
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Helen Thrall, 96, died peacefully on April 20, 2017, with family at her side, at her home at The Carillon in Boulder, CO. She is survived by her children, Fred Lloyd Thrall of Boulder, Thomas Thrall of Forest Grove, OR, and Elizabeth Sims of Boulder; grandchildren Bradley, Greg Lloyd, Nick, Alex, and Kaidy; great-grandchild Ellie; daughters-in-law Gloria, Debbie and Sandy, step-grandchildren Jessica and Jeremy, and step-great-grandchildren Daniel, Jackson and Charleigh.
Helen was born December 11, 1920 in Perry, Arkansas, to Jethro and Lillian Holmes. She dearly loved her older brother, Thomas, who passed away in 1991. She graduated from Little Rock High School in 1937 at age 16. She studied Pre-Med for 2½ years at Little Rock Junior College, but had to leave due to the Great Depression.
After completing a class in Mechanical Drawing, she was courted by the instructor, Lloyd Thrall. Helen & Lloyd fell in love and were married in Little Rock in 1943. When Lloyd, an Army officer, was assigned to the European Theater, Helen supported the war effort by taking a job as technical foreman at Porocel Corp in Little Rock, testing the production of a catalyst for airplane fuel. When Lloyd returned in 1946, they moved to Dallas TX, Denver CO (where Fred Lloyd was born), Savannah GA, and finally to Northern Virginia, where Tom and Liz were born.
Helen loved her family fiercely, unconditionally and timelessly. She was involved in a broad range of activities in Great Falls VA, such as the Grange, PTA, 4-H, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Little League, Pony Club, Bridge Club, Garden Club, River Bend Country Club, and Forestville Methodist Church. Late in life she found a passion for oil and watercolor painting. Helen loved traveling; after Lloyd retired from the Corps of Engineers, they embarked on a year-long tour of Europe. Lloyd became an executive with AARP, and they continued to travel, domestically and world-wide. Lloyd passed away in 1996 after 53 years of marriage.
Helen moved to Florida to be near Liz and her family, then moved with Liz and family to Boulder in 2005, which allowed for many family celebrations and regular Sunday night dinners. In 2012 she moved to The Carillon, where she made many friends. Helen was a lovely, gentle and compassionate person; her life will always be an inspiration to those who knew her.
A service in celebration of Helen's life will be held at 5:00 PM, Monday May 29 at Crist Mortuary, 3395 Penrose Place, Boulder, with a graveside memorial following at Mountain View Cemetery, 3016 Kalmia Avenue, Boulder. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Safe at Home Care LLC (720) 434-5242, or Elevation Home Health & Hospice (720) 608-2181. Arrangements under the direction of Crist Mortuary, Boulder, CO.

Helen Holmes was the second of two children of Jethro Shelby Holmes and Lillian Holbrook Holmes: her brother Thomas was 3 ½ years older. She was born December 11, 1920 in Perry, Arkansas. The next year the family moved 70 miles away to Booneville, AR: Jethro walked the cow, and Lillian drove a buggy with her two little children. In 1922 they moved to a rental house in Little Rock, where Jethro got a job with a Ford automobile dealer. In 1925 they moved to a new home, built by Lillian's brother Will, at 2425 W. 17th Street in Little Rock, where Helen lived until her marriage.
As a child Helen loved to visit the Holmes and Holbrook clans in Perry and Adona. She remembers visiting Papa and Mamadelli for XMAS in 1923: Uncle Fat played Santa, and there were little candles on the tree. She loved to hear and play the player piano at Uncle Will's house: this piano was recovered from the burning of the movie theater owned by Jethro and Will in Perry. She also remembers at a very young age burning her coat on a pot-bellied stove in church, and chasing doodlebugs under the back stairs at her home. As she grew up, there were many kids her age, mostly girls, in the neighborhood: however, she wasn't allowed to play with Catholic kids. Black people lived several blocks away: one was a bootlegger who utilized a green light in a back bedroom to indicate when there was merchandise for sale.
Helen had a carefree childhood, but she always helped her mother cook and clean (however, she hadn't made a full when she got married). She enjoyed playing paper dolls, cut from the Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogues. The family did OK during the Depression: they enjoyed steak each Sunday. Food cost approx. $5 per week: they often brought vegetables, beef and pork from family members in the country. Kids roller-skated, baked cookies and made root beer: sometimes they played kissing games! They'd walk to downtown (the retail area) some 2 miles away. Helen liked to sew, and made her own clothes from age 13 on. She skipped two years of school at Centennial Grammar School and West Side Jr. High, and stared high school (10th Grade) at age 13. Little Rock High School (the only white high school in Little Rock, later to become Central High School, the site of a famous integration conflict in 1959) was large, with approx. 3000 students. When she was 13, her cousin Edwin taught her to dance, and took her to a high school dance. There she met an older man, Lloyd Thrall, who carried newspapers with Edwin, and who was to figure prominently in her future. Helen also socialized with her older brother Thomas's friends from the Methodist youth group. She graduated from high school in 1937 at age 16.
In 1937 Helen got a special treat - she got to visit Texas and Mexico with family friends, and she enjoyed her first tacos. Helen enrolled in Little Rock Junior College, and studied Pre-Med for 2 ½ years. When Thomas enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1940, tuition money became scarce,