Helen (Martens) Lofton was born July 1, 1928 to Peter and Helena Martens in McMahon, a small town in southern Saskatchewan, Canada. She died upon reaching the age of 94 on July 10, 2022.
Helen was the second oldest child in a family of six of parents who immigrated to Canada from Russia in 1925. The oldest, Peter lives in Swift Current, Sask and Erna lives in Kandern, Germany. She was preceded in death by two sisters, Daisy and Nora and one brother, Calvin.
Helen’s elementary and high school education was completed in Sask. She then attended a business school in Swift Current and worked in a business in the city as office manager. She took time to study for one year at Pacific University in Fresno, CA. Here she made acquaintances who enriched her and influenced her life for many years.
A new chapter in her life began when, in 1959, she went to Europe to visit her sister, Daisy, who was studying in Brussels and other friends she had known from Fresno. It was here also that she met her future husband, Donald Lofton from Darlington, SC. He was on a military assignment with the US Air Force in Germany. They were married August 6th 1960 in Darmstadt, Germany. This marriage was blessed with four children, one son died in infancy in 1962. The surviving children are Sharon, whose husband, Bruce Linn died 2012; Valerie married to Dennis Morgan; and Donald Jr (Del), married to Kristy Jerke. She was the proud grandmother of four grandchildren: Hannah Morgan Teachout (Brian); Jessica Morgan Wilford (Tyler); Zachary Lofton and Jacob Lofton. She had one great-grandchild: Luna Wilford.
Through the years that Don served in the military the family relocated many times: Germany, Texas, Japan, Florida, England, New Jersey, California, Texas (again) and finally Lakewood, Washington. For the family this required many adjustments but Helen was always there to support, guide and lead, especially times when Don was on duty elsewhere. During all these years, she maintained a close contact with her family in Canada. Whenever possible, they would take time to visit for extended vacations. These were very important times for the children, their cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.These were great bonding times as well as opportunities for Helen to teach her family about her growing up years.
As a child Helen decided to accept Jesus Christ into her life and she remained faithful to this commitment. It was her desire that her children and grandchildren not only become good citizens but that they each would accept Christ as their Saviour and Guide. She and Don raised their family with this goal.
This obituary was written by her sister, Daisy, who preceded her in death on Dec 24, 2021. Daisy knew her longer than anyone here. They grew up together in the same home and worked, played, slept, and laughed together. Their view of their parents and family were the same. To express it in Helen’s words as she once wrote, “My memories of my parents are good. They taught us right from wrong, taught us that we needed personal salvation through Jesus Christ. They always set a good example for us to follow and tried to be a good guide in our lives. Childhood for me was a happy time.” They also were taught to respect, to help others, work hard to make a living, be independent and get as much education as possible.
Daisy always believed that Helen was the cleverest of her siblings. It didn’t matter that Helen didn’t win all the Scrabble games, not to mention her attitude about Monopoly, but she was always able to manage her life so that things worked out right. She was especially astute in money matters and more than once she was called on to balance her sisters’ bank books. Even though they were good friends, Daisy never forgot Helen was her older sister. Daisy knew that if there was something she needed she could always count on Helen for advice and assistance. The examples are too numerous to relate except that Daisy has surgery about three years ago and Helen was at her side through it. This attention also reaches her family, imagine sending a parcel of homemade noodles to a granddaughter in Germany! She had a generous and caring spirit and many people were the recipients of it.
Helen will be missed very much by her husband Don, her children and grandchildren, her extended family of nieces and nephews and by her many friends both locally and all across the world. Her annual Christmas letter will be missed.
The words of Proverbs 31:25-28 applied to Helen:
Strength and dignity are her clothing; And she laughter at the time to come. She openers her mouth to wisdom; And the lab of kindness is on her tongue. She locket well to the ways of her household And earth not the bread of idleness; Her children rise up and call her blessed.
A memorial service for Helen will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Parkland, WA on Saturday, September 3, 2022 at 2pm. In lieu of flowers, if you wish, donations to one of the local charities Helen supported would be welcomed; they are Tacoma Rescue Mission and the Family Renewal Center in Tacoma, WA.
Hannah Morgan Teachout spoke at Mom's service; this is the text of her eulogy:
For many years, the house my grandparents lived in on 68th Ave in Lakewood was home. Or, according to my sister’s naming conventions—home home. It was the place where, when everything else in our life changed, we always had that driveway and large maple tree and kitchen counter with the pair of burn marks on it to provide that sense of stability and support. I knew I had a spot on her lap, or beside her as I grew, to eat an orange and judge Vanna White’s dress of the day when Wheel of Fortune came on.
But when the house was sold and Nani and Papa moved into Bridgeport Place, I learned it wasn’t that blue and white house that was home. It was Nani who held us together and the sense of belonging and stability went wherever she did.
During her long life, Helen Lofton was many things to many people. A daughter. Sister. Mother. Grandmother. Aunt. Friend. And more. But it isn’t the many roles she filled that I want to highlight. It’s the way that she was one thing to many people. In everything, Helen— my Nani—was steadfast. The anchor that kept the many ships upright over many decades.
Almost 62 years ago, Helen married Don and began the transient life of a military family. Along came Sharon, Valerie, and Del and the family moved across countries, states, and cities. With her guidance and following her example, those wonderful three children grew up and went out into and across the world, building their own homes, always knowing Mom’s door and heart were open.
So it’s no surprise that when those families grew through marriage and children and friendships, Helen’s home grew too. As a grandmother, Nani never faltered in loving the four of us the best she could, no matter the oceans and continents that spanned the distance between us.
At the schools, churches, and places she lived and worked, Helen made people feel welcome immediately. She brought wit as sharp as her memory and a fiercely competitive spirit to any game involves cards or dice. While she may not have been the most talkative one in the room, certainly not in our family, she was the loudest laugh in the theater if Don Knotts was in the movie. Her love shone through brightest in acts of service. The only rule when it came to dining at her table was waiting for the hostess to raise her fork before you dug into whatever delicious dessert she’d prepared. If you left Helen’s house with an empty stomach, that was on you.
Now, finally, Helen has gone home, to the Lord and Savior she loved with steadfast devotion. Reunited with her parents and siblings who’d passed before. To celebrate and honor her life, is to take up the mantle she bore for her many years and do our best to love and serve those around us.