Bill and Yumiko Kondo Helfrich

September 19, 1992

To our four sons and daughters-in-law
You are truly the pearls of our lives


Ron, Michael, Elise, Cleo Sims Josey (mother), Chuck, Jackie, Heather,
Bill, Yumi, Hamako, Hidehiro,Lauren, Rebeka, Jan, Les, Ellen, Paul, Margie
Starlight Princess Yacht
,  You were born just nine months and ten days after we were married, and you know that everyone was counting on their fingers, so you will always have that distinction.  Your grandmother and granddad Helfrich drove from South Carolina where they were stationed in the Army to Shreveport, LA to be there for your birth.  You were going to be the first grandchild for my parents and your dad's parents. 

On the morning of July 14, I woke up and thought I had an accident, so I took a shower, not knowing that my water had broken, until the contractions began.  Your grandmother and granddad Helfrich took me to the Barksdale AFB Hospital.  Your dad was on duty at Bossier Base on Barksdale, in a critical position, with only six people cleared to work that area, and he had already gone to work at that time.  When we came into the hospital, they asked how close the contractions were.  When we said five minutes, they began to scurry like little mice grabbing a wheelchair and rushing me upstairs. 

In those days, they did not tell us what to expect, and I was not prepared for anything at all.  They had put the bedside rail up and I felt a need to go to the bathroom so I pushed the bed away from the wall and went into the bathroom.  They found me in there and the nurse screamed at me "do you want to have that baby in the toilet?"  Later, that same nurse came in and told me to shut up, that I could not be hurting that much.  I looked up at her and asked "have you ever had a baby?"  She said "of course I have not, I am not married!"  I said "well, you have no idea then, do you?"  I never wanted to smack anyone so much in my life as I did at that moment.  You were born at 4:10 pm, weighing 8 lbs.- 0 oz., 20 inches long and the day was Tuesday.  Your doctor was Dr. Schweize, and your nurse was Lt. Shaw.  I remember the doctor saying "you have a healthy boy," and I asked him if he was sure.  He said "well, he has everything that I have, so I would say it is a boy."  I then asked if you had all ten toes and fingers.  Dumb of me, huh?  Your chest was 14 inches.  You had just a little red peach fuzz for hair.  Your skin color had a lot of red tint to it.  You were as cute as you could be.  Your Dad was informed of your birth and they transported him to the hospital in an Air Police jeep with a red light and siren turned on as if it were an emergency.  We named you after your dad's best friend, William A. Hopkins and your dad.  

We were new to all of this stuff and there were no books nor classes as there are today on how to rear children.  You were at our mercy and we were at your mercy. You were a colicky baby and cried a lot.  I was beside myself not knowing what to do with you and had you at the doctors often.  When we were out, I often carried you on a pillow because it was so hot in July and August in Louisiana, and carrying you in our arms just caused you to have more perspiration on you.  You also suffered from heat rash, probably because your complexion was so fair.  There was no such thing as air conditioning then either, and the temperature often went above 100 degrees during the summer.  I did not want folks to touch you, much less kiss you for fear that they would pass their germs on to you. 

Somehow, you (and we) survived those years and we enjoyed reading to you, thinking you were so smart, and we were thrilled to see you start school.  You had the measles in Germany, if we remember correctly.  However, we did not log any other communicable diseases.  You were always so "grown up" even before you began school.  Everyone called you "Butch" during those growing up years.  Later, you preferred "Bill" so we dropped the Butch.  You had a cowlick that lasted for years.  You were not all that studious in your early years, (per your teachers, you loved to look out the window and day dream), but you made up for it in later years of school, when you were on the Dean's List.  All of those years, you were in military schools on the bases where we were stationed until we got to Tampa, FL in 1970 and you finished your schooling at Leto High School.  You played the saxophone in the high school band and then you were promoted into the concert band.  While in high school, you really enjoyed studying the Russian language.  

A proud moment for us was when we attended the ceremony for you to receive your Boy Scout Eagle Award.  I think a very memorable moment was the Christmas morning that you opened your presents and one box had a key and we opened the blinds on the window and there sat your new Vega.  You were so thrilled.  After you graduated from high school, you went to Hillsborough Jr. College.  Remember the time that you were out all night and when you came home at 5:00 a.m., I was waiting up for you and asked where in the world had you been?  Remember your answer as being that you were out with your English teacher and you were teaching her how to play chess?  Next, you were off to the University of South Florida here in Tampa.  

You had two years under your belt and decided that you wanted to pursue a career in the computer field and you thought the best road to take would be to enter the military and get your training there.  You joined the Navy and spent ten years in the computer field, and when you began instructing, you decided that you could get out and make two to three times your current salary on the outside.  I remember one time when we were at Epcot, and we were talking with a lady at the next table.  She was waiting for her Son to join her, but he never showed up.  You felt sorry for her and you went to the server and paid him for her dinner.  That was very sweet of you, but then, you have always had a very kind heart. 

You spent the next several years in different countries, such as Italy,  Okinawa, Japan and Hawaii, working for civilian companies.  You were right, you made a much higher salary.  You met your wife, Yumi, in Japan and had a beautiful wedding there and then Yumi's family came to the United States where you had an American wedding.  It was also a beautiful wedding and reception on the Starlight Princess paddle boat here in Florida. Your Dad and I really enjoyed coming over to spend a week with you guys in Hawaii, when you were stationed there.  Now, with Amy added, you have a perfect family.  You have certainly made us very proud of you too.

Love you, Mom and Dad

Barksdale AFB Hospital - Where Bill was born

1953 - Our first home - Where we lived when Bill was born

Bill - December , 1953





Bill - 1953



1953 - Bill


1954 - Jackie and Bill



1958 - Bill trying to straighten out Les





Bill - 1971


1975 - Jackie, Bill, grandmother Cleo Josey, Les, Ron and Paul in the front at

Bill's graduation in the Navy in Orlando, FL




1975 - Bill is second in line from right


Bill - 1986



Bill in Japan at cherry blossom time



2003 - Bill


Bill - We are so proud of you.
Congratulations on
your new job in the
State Department

2006 - Bill (Our BALLET STAR)

in the costume that Yumi made

for him to play his part in this ballet.

Everyone can look forward to seeing

the DVD of this when they come home.

Scroll down for more pictures - you don't want to miss any


Now, is this special or not?

Bill, we are all proud of you!!

And, we are sure Yumi and Amy are too.



     It was snowing the day Yumi was born in her mother's parents' home in Fukue City, Japan. Yumi's grandmother said Yumi had a very chubby face with very fair skin.  Yumi's favorite subject in school was the Japanese language.  She was a very quiet young girl, and played the keyboard/organ/piano for many years, between seven and eight years.  Her grandmother insisted that she learn Japanese dances and she did so.  She performed many times publicly.  Her grandmother took lessons too, but she did not do that well; being 70 years old.  Yumi attended and graduated from Goto High School and then went into Seibo Jr. College, a Catholic School for two years, where she majored in nutrition..

Yumi's dad passed away in her second year of college.  Yumi's parents own the Ohato Hotel on Goto Island, and Yumi decided at the end of her two year college term that she should go back home to help her mother in the hotel.  Yumi's mother was the president of the corporation and Yumi became the manager.  During that time, Yumi came to the United States on tours three times to the west coast.  

In February 1992, Bill, who was in Japan working for General Electric, came to Goto Island to go diving and met Yumi.  They dated for three months and decided to marry.

Their wedding was in September.  Everyone always thought Yumi was too much involved with her work, was a tough business woman, and they were glad to see her deciding to marry.  Her brother, Tochinori, gave a toast at their wedding, saying "Bill, thank you for taking my sister," to which everyone had a hearty laugh.  They had Amy a year and a half later and live in the Washington DC/Virginia area. 

Yumi, thank you for getting that bachelor son of ours to settle down and get married, finally.

Love you, Chuck and Jackie



Yumi as a baby - 1957




06-2005 Yumi



12-1992 - Bill and Yumi's Wedding in the United States















For "AFTER WEDDING" for Bill and Yumi and family pictures, check with Jackie for the link at
[email protected]

Background Music - "String of Pearls"