Obituary for Helen Fuller

Sep 9, 2022 | 0 comments

Helen Fuller

Helen Fuller

Helen Fuller’s fortunate life drew to a close on August 25, 2022, at age 89. She died peacefully surrounded by family a few weeks after falling and breaking a hip while hiking.

She got her start in Denison, Texas, the second daughter of Walter Greene and Willie Rice Langston on March 19, 1933. Describing her early childhood she said, “We were loved. And we had everything.” Both of her parents died when she was 13, her mother at age 49 from breast cancer and her father from a stroke. She and her sister Billye, a year and a half older than Helen, were very close. They went to live with an elderly aunt and uncle in nearby Sherman, Texas.

Her father owned a bakery. As a child, Helen would take her friends there and invite them to have as many cookies as they wanted. She remembers going up and down the street with her father as he visited and told jokes to fellow businesspeople. She credits her father for her love of making people laugh by saying funny things and being silly.

When her mother bought a sewing machine, Helen took sewing lessons. She became quite an accomplished seamstress, sewing most of her clothing, her prom dresses, and her wedding gown.

As a student at Baylor University, she studied math with a minor in physics. She met her future husband Jack Fuller in a chemistry class. He was intrigued by the uncaged pet rat she brought to class.

She had to have someone who was as smart as she was and appreciated her intellect. She married Jack on August 23, 1953, two days after graduating from college at the age of 20. They were married for more than 60 years until Jack’s death in 2015.

Helen and Jack lived in Baton Rouge while he pursued a PhD. She worked as a math teacher and did taxes for an accountant. They moved back to Waco for a couple years. Jack taught Physics at Baylor while Helen stayed home with baby Lori.

“I was determined that I was going to have my kids out of the house by the time I turned 49, the age my mother died,” she said. She had her own bout with breast cancer at age 81, but it was caught early and successfully treated.

In 1959, the family moved to Los Alamos where Karen was born. Helen’s sister Billye and her husband were already living there, making it easier to settle in. She was home with the girls as well as being active in AAUW and League of Women Voters.

Later, she went to work at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. With her math degree they trained her in computer science. She was one of two women doing technical work in her area at the lab. She enjoyed and excelled at her work at the labs doing computer programming and security, selection and acquisition of computers, database management, data analysis, and training users. When she started, she was working on room-sized mainframes programmed with large punch card decks. When she retired after 20 years, she was working with PCs and small computer servers.

In Los Alamos, Helen hosted many dinner parties with other lab scientists. The evenings were filled with interesting conversations and her wonderful food. When she cooked for her family, her chile rellenos, deep-fried French toast and chocolate meringue pie were some of their favorites.

With Jack’s encouragement, she learned to fly a 4-seater plane. She was only scared when she soloed the first time. They were active in a flying club which owned two airplanes.

Helen Fuller Hiking

Helen Fuller hiking the Sandia Mountain foothils.

Helen loved to travel the world with Jack, starting with their honeymoon when they spontaneously decided to travel instead of staying in one place. As a family they travelled extensively by car and small plane: Canada, Europe, Hawaii, New England, and many national parks. After their daughters left home, they travelled to Egypt, New Zealand, Newfoundland, the Galapagos … Their last trip together before Jack died in 2015 was a hiking trip in Iceland.

She enjoyed attending performances of plays, operas, and classical music. She led an active life, leavened with chocolate. Helen’s favorite sporting activities were running, tennis, skiing, golf, and hiking. When asked for advice on aging she said, “Exercise, exercise, exercise (It worked for me).” She was still playing golf and hiking at 89.

She loved clouds. She looked for shapes and changing colors. Her favorite place to sit was the kitchen table where she could see Sandia Mountain and the foothills. She watched the colors change at sunset, the rising moon, and her beloved clouds.

Helen is survived by her daughters Karen Blossom, married to Dave Ruelli, and Lori Fuller, married to Martha Coder. She is also survived by her sister Billye Head and Billye’s children, Leslie, Stuart, and Linda.

Helen was a supporter of the League of Women Voters. She recognized the importance of being an informed voter and advocated for exercising your right to vote. She also was a staunch supporter of abortion rights. To honor Helen’s memory, use your right to vote this year to support those candidates who defend women’s right to choose safe accessible healthcare services.

A Memorial Service will be held at noon September 30th, 2022, at Tanoan Country Club’s Sandia Grill. In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to Roadrunner® Food Bank, New Mexico PBS, arts organizations, AAUW and/or Planned Parenthood.

The service will be conducted by Certified Funeral Celebrant Gail Rubin.

A Good Goodbye