Helon Oder - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Obituaries

Helon Oder

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Posted: Friday, April 19, 2019 3:01 pm

Longtime Coronado resident Helon Oder was born Helen Elizabeth Moore to Pearl Elizabeth Moore and Fred Wilford Moore on Aug. 19, 1924, on the family farm in Dinuba, California, the youngest of four children. After a few years, the Moore family moved to a farm in Kingsburg. She spent her childhood surrounded by the burgeoning fruit industry of the San Joaquin Valley, while her father built a successful fruit growing business still operating today.

Helen was always very enterprising, and set up fruit stands to sell the excess fruit that fell from the trees, as well as the surplus fruit that couldn’t be packed and shipped. She wanted to enter her father’s business, but her aunt Fay Adams, a professor at USC, encouraged her to go to college and she pursued higher education.

She was an outstanding student and earned a scholarship to Mills College in Oakland, then a prestigious women-only college. Helen was driven to succeed at whatever she chose to do. One of her friends referred to her as “hell on wheels.” She liked that and changed the spelling of her name to Helon. It was wartime and Mills College hosted a Midshipmen’s Ball for young Naval officer candidates, where she met Robert J. Oder, a tall, dark, handsome Navy midshipman from Duke University who swept her off her feet. After dating whenever they could see each other, they married in Long Beach, California, April 16, 1946. Afterwords, Bob went into Reserve status and farmed with the Moore family in Kingsbury while Helon taught first grade.

War broke out in Korea and Bob was called up, promptly reporting to duty at the Amphibious Base in Coronado. When the school year ended, Helon drove down from Kingsburg to join him. After spending a summer together in Coronado, they both fell in love with the island and were determined to make their home here. At the end of summer, Bob shipped out to Korea, but Helon stayed in Coronado. When Bob returned, Helon greeted him at his ship with a surprise: she had found a job teaching elementary school in Coronado, and she had found a house for them to buy together. That very day they drove straight from the ship to an escrow office, whereupon Bob immediately signed papers to buy their first home on the island. They never moved away from Coronado. They had their first child, Stephen, in 1950, their daughter Susan in 1955, and their second son Robert in 1959.

Helon spent a year studying law at USD, but made the hard decision to stay in a career that would give her more time for her family. Helon taught elementary school for 36 years, mostly at Crown School in Coronado. She was an excellent teacher. Helon taught hundreds of first grade kids to read and write. She spent the rest of her life in a community filled with people who she’d taught, and it was always one of her greatest joys to see those kids grow up.

Helon and Bob both became interested in real estate. With their complementary talents, they gradually built a thriving real estate enterprise. In 1963 they joined Coronado Yacht Club, the whole family learned to sail, and the Club became one of the hubs of family life. Helon and Bob enjoyed cruises and raft-ups with their sailing friends, and spent many happy hours at the Yacht Club, on the water, and sailing to Catalina. Later, they toured the world together, visiting Africa, South America, India, Russia, Bora Bora, and more far-off places. Helon loved visiting her family, her friends, and the farm in Kingsburg. She returned often and she loved hosting her Kingsburg family in Coronado.

Both Helon and Bob were of strong faith, and joined Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church in 1957. They worshipped regularly, were very involved in the church community and in the Mariners. Helon and Bob were also members of Crown Club for many years. They loved to sing, dance, and have a good time!

On March 4, 2019, Helon passed peacefully and naturally into God’s hands. She was surrounded by loved ones as they sang her favorite songs to her. Helon was a force of nature that could not be stopped once her mind was made up and she succeeded time and again. There will never be another like her. Goodbye Mom. We love you.

Helon was preceded in death by her husband Bob, her grandson Christopher. She is survived by her children Stephen, Susan, and Robert (Monica), granddaughter Celeste Elena, grandson David and great granddaughter Vivienne Helon.

There will be a celebration of Helon Oder’s life at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 5, at Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church, 959 C Avenue. A reception will follow immediately at Coronado Yacht Club, 1631 Strand Way. All who knew Helon are welcome to attend both events.