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Friday, February 10, 2006

Helen Rupert Jones, 101, of Brazil, passed away peacefully on Saturday evening, Feb. 4. in Costa Mesa, California, just a few days after celebrating her 101st birthday. She will be interred beside her husband, Blythe, in Acacia Park Cemetery, Oakland County, Michigan.

Last summer, as part of an ongoing celebration of family, 50 or so members of the Rupert/Jones/Evans clan gathered in Brazil for a driving tour of meaningful family landmarks. These included numerous farms and homes, the schools that Helen and her sister Hazel attended, and the Bee Ridge Church and Cemetery.

Helen was born in Brazil on January 24, 1905, to William Henry Rupert and Mary Emma Downing Rupert. Her father, a road and building contractor, built the family home on several acres of ground on Kennedy's Crossing Rd. at a time when most of the homes there were occupied by her Downing aunts, uncles and cousins.

Nearly all of her family were lifelong members of the Bee Ridge Church, and she was baptized as a small child in Otter Creek, as was their custom. In fact, her forebears were among the first group of colonists to settle at Bee Ridge, building the original church there in 1835. That church was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt in 1870. The present church was built by Helen's father, William. In the late 1940s, the family home was also destroyed by fire, but was never rebuilt.

At the age of 11 Helen learned to drive a car and remained enthusiastic about cars and driving for the next 80 years. Her first airplane ride was at a county fair in 1917; her last was from Michigan to California in 2004. She was always a thoroughly modern woman.

After graduating from Brazil High School, she went on to Indiana University. After graduation from IU., she taught in a one-room country school until her marriage in 1928 to long-time sweetheart, Blythe Jones, of Petersburg, Indiana.

They were married in the Bee Ridge Church by the young Rev. Jimmy Conlon, who was officiating at his first wedding ceremony.

For the last dozen years or so of her life, Helen spent more than half her year with her daughter Sylvia Hatton, son-in-law Jim Hatton and family in Costa Mesa, California, enjoying the warmth of the winter climate there and the love of her west coast family and friends.

Summertime, however, lured her to northern Michigan, where she usually spent several months in Omena with her many friends and her Omena family: Suanne and John Mulligan, Austin and Marion Jones and Scott and Karen Mulligan. During those summers she especially enjoyed the many houseguests, visiting grandchildren, family reunions, impromptu parties and picnics, sailing on the bay, and long drives along the back-roads. Throughout her life she took an active role in community affairs and state and national politics. She was a gracious and loving wife, mother and friend. She maintained a lively interest in and connection with the lives and concerns of people younger than herself and derived special joy from living in California with her youngest grandchildren, Casey and George Hatton, while they were still teenagers.

Helen was preceded in death by her husband, Blythe; her parents, William and Emma Rupert; her sister, Hazel Rupert (Mrs. Loran) Evans and a nephew Philip Evans (Elmabeth). She is survived by her three children: Austin Jones (Marion Kirk), Suzanne (Mrs. John) Mulligan and Sylvia (Mrs. James) Hatton; her seven grandchildren: Cleve Jones, Elizabeth (Mrs. John)Ettinger, Scott Mulligan (Karen Crippes), Dan Mulligan (Colleen Tennant), Robert Mulligan (Natalia Gómez), Casey Hatton and George Hatton; and six great-grandchildren: Tim and Cavan Mulligan; Kyle and Jack Mulligan; and Sylvia and Francis Ettinger.

Among the many "Helenisms" to be long remembered by her family: "Some days will be better than others, but don't wish a single one away."

Helen made the most of them all.