Mary Elizabeth (Betty) McCoy Helfrich 
June 10, 1913 to May 22, 1995
This is my mother's story to the best of my knowledge

Mary Elizabeth McCoy
About 1933

The reason for the graphics on this page is because mother's favorite flower was the red rose.  The background music is "Shenandoah," because her home state was VA.  Mother was a descendant of the infamous McCoy's who were involved in the historical "Hatfield/McCoy Feud."  She was a first cousin three times removed to Randolph "Randel" McCoy, who was the head of the McCoy Clan in that feud. "Old"  William McCoy, born in 1753, had 13 children.  Two of those sons were Daniel and Samuel.  Daniel had Randolph "Randel" McCoy.  Samuel was mother's great great-granddad.

In 2000, Jackie and I attended the "Hatfield/McCoy Reunion of the Millennium,"  in VA, where the McCoy's were on one side of the Tug River and the Hatfield's were on the other side for a "tug of war."  I was at the end of the tug rope on the McCoy side and the McCoy's pulled those Hatfield's into that Tug River, down to the last man and woman on the other end of that rope!  The governors from WV and KY attended that momentous celebration.  Peace was declared and they have a Hatfield/McCoy reunion every year in June now.  

Mother was born on June 10, 1913 in Tazewell, VA and was the seventh of ten children of Charles Goble and Nannie L. Virginia Hubble McCoy.  The picture to the left is Mother, and the picture to the lower right is the school that mother went to - North Tazewell School. 

In 1922, when mother was only nine years old, she lost her mother,Nannie, at the young age of 39 of typhoid fever, which they think was an outbreak that may have started from a nearby local spring.  The children were motherless for a period of time.  

To the right below is a picture of their home nestled in the hills of Tazewell, Virginia.  This is from the back of the homestead.  You can imagine the young folks had a blast running around in all of that space.  Quoting an article in Time Magazine, "residents of Tazewell (with a population of 4,100 in 2005)  like to point out that they have a quiet little town with the story of how they once put a cow in jail because they could not tolerate the clanging bell."

Here is a front shot of the McCoy homestead.  I (Chuck and many of my cousins) spent many summers there on the farm and really enjoyed those times.

Tazewell was formed in 1799 from Russell and Wythe Counties, and is in the southwest part of Virginia.  Per the Tazewell County Heritage, Native American settlements were there long before the settlers cleared land and built homes there in the early 1770's.  Their village is close to the spot selected by Thomas Witten, who built his cabin nearby, and he was the first documented permanent settler in Tazewell County.  The area was described by the first explorers who braved the wilderness as "wild and lonely, stretching as far as the eye can see, with no sign of human habitation." 

But soon, the adventurers came, first as scouts and hunters and then as permanent settlers in the rich mountain region.  They were unique in the annals of settlers since they came, for the most part, from the educated, landed gentry of eastern Virginia.  They were not escaping from their past, nor running from mistakes nor hiding from law enforcers.  They came with express purpose of opening up new lands and establishing homes on the Virginia frontier.  The first families came, it has been written, with their "Bibles and their guns" and a spirit of adventure which can be found in their computer age descendants.   

Life was difficult on the farm in the early 1900's.  They all had to help with the farm chores; milking the cows, churning butter, chopping wood, canning, tending the garden and planting, laundry, housekeeping,  etc. and feeding the animals (Billy goats, chickens, horses, a jack mule, etc. - mother is on the left here riding the mule, with her two sons, Chuck and Sonny checking out the corn fields.  The photo was taken about 1937.) 

Mother's oldest sister, Velva, was a surrogate mother to all of the children and they all felt that she was the next best thing to their real mother.  Velva took in several homeless children, so the McCoy home was always full.  There is a picture of the entire family in 1920 on mother's dad's page, so be sure to check out Charles Goble McCoy's page.

It was rumored that mother's McCoy family ran a moonshine still up there in the mountains. The stories that have been passed down were that some members of the McCoy family also would drive to Bluefield to buy liquor and come back to Tazewell (a dry county) to sell it from their home.  Mother often talked about how many of the "big wigs" came to their home often to make a "purchase."  Just a piece of colorful family lore.

About 1925, mother's dad remarried and all we have is her name, which was Jane.  Further information on that marriage has not been found as of this date.  We are not sure what happened with that marriage, but Charles Goble McCoy was married a third time July 19, 1925 to Bertha Brooks, in Tazewell, VA.

In 1930, at the age of 17, mother went to visit her sister, (Billie) in Rockville, MD  It was there that she met her husband to be, Herman Andrew Helfrich, who was in the U. S. Army.  Please be sure to visit Herman and Betty's 50th Anniversary Page to see their wedding pictures and 50th anniversary memories.

Mother and dad married in 1930, had two sons, Herman Larry and Charles Earnest,  and they lived the military life until dad retired.  Here is a picture of them to the left which was taken in 1939.  And, a picture to the right  of the four of us taken in 1940 in Pittsburgh, PA.  I am on the right.

Mother, Larry and I spent two years in Giessen, Germany immediately after WWII, where dad was stationed. 

Below is a picture of my brother, Sonny, mother and me that was on our passport to go to Germany in 1945, just two months after the end of World War II. 

Mother loved to dance and was an excellent dancer.  She also liked to travel and she frequently drove on many long trips. 

When mother came back to the U.S., she went to work for Sears, as a sales clerk in Pittsburgh, PA, where she was employed for a period of two to three years, until she injured her back and was bed-ridden for a lengthy period of about eight months. 

When she recovered from her back injury, she was later diagnosed with a severe cyst condition of the breasts and a complete mastectomy was performed.  After that recovery, she became very active in the Moose Lodge, working up to the Presidency of the local Women of The Moose.  To the right is a picture of mother when she was an officer in the Women of the Moose in VA.  Mother is the second  from the right on the front row.

This was mother and dad's home in VA where they lived until 1965.  When they  retired to Florida, mother worked at the MacDill Air Force Base Exchange as a cashier for many years and then retired permanently.  

Below is a picture of their home in Tampa, FL where they lived from 1965 until dad passed away in 1980.


Here is a picture of mother and dad to the lower right taken in Pittsburgh, PA when they went to visit relatives there in 1979.





Mother was very fond of Elvis Presley and she bought most of his records, which are still in mint condition almost 50 years later, and they are being cared for today by Jackie and me. 

Mother and dad celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1980,  with a beautiful party hosted by Jackie and me.  Mother was so overcome with emotion when she saw how many people had flown in to surprise them, that she fainted in the receiving line.  After a nitroglycerin tablet and some fresh air, the party resumed.  A band from the 1930's had been brought in to play for the party,  complete with red and white striped jackets, white pants, and straw hats, and the music of the 30's was the theme of the evening.  Gold 50's were hanging everywhere.  It was a night of many surprises and tears, and one that they both talked about many times in the next few months.  They said they had never had anything so nice done for them.  What a memorable evening it was for the entire family.

Picture to the left - four generations of Helfrich women, mother, Elise, Jackie and Lauren in 1987. To the right, there are four generations again with mother, Chuck, Ron and Michael in 1991.  


After dad's death in 1980, (just six months after the 50th wedding anniversary) mother sold their home and moved into a Fair Oaks Condominium in Tampa.  During the next fifteen years, mother came to our home for Sunday morning family breakfasts.  Those Sundays were filled with family discussions, laughter, occasional debates, enjoying children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and some good old country cooking; coffee, ham, eggs, bacon, biscuits, home made gravy, fried tomatoes, orange juice, etc.  

One of mother's fondest memories was when her #4 grandson, Paul, would help set the table and, inevitably, he would fill his grandmother's glass with orange juice to the brim, just to tease her, and hear her say "Paul, you do this to me every Sunday," as she leaned over to take a sip, so she could then pick up the glass to drink the juice.  Those Sundays  are missed very much now.  That was what family was all about.  Mother had the two sons and nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Mother was fortunate to attend several of her grandchildren's weddings over the years and to the left is one of our favorite pictures of her being escorted down the aisle by her oldest grandson, Bill, at Ron and Elise's wedding in 1987. 

To the right is a picture of mother being escorted down the aisle at Paul and Ellen's wedding in 1991.  Mother's escort was another grandson, David Helfrich, son of Herman Larry Helfrich.



Here are a couple of the last pictures of mother which were taken in October 1994 - just seven months before we lost her.  In the first picture, she is with grandson, Paul, and the second picture, she is holding her great grandson, Daniel Thomas Helfrich.  This was the day Daniel was christened.

Mother lived at Fair Oaks until her death May 22, 1995, at the age of 82, just one month before her 83rd birthday. Cause of death was brain and lung cancer, the same as dad's cause of death.  At her funeral, we celebrated her life, with pictures and memorabilia of her life at the funeral home.  We had her dressed in her Ladies of the Moose Gown and her collection of pins that she had been awarded over the years.  The Ladies of the Moose came to give a eulogy for her also. 

bettymooselodge.jpg (240622 bytes) Thefootprints.jpg (201657 bytes) Moose Lodge meant a lot to mother and dad.  Click on the picture of her in her cap and gown at the local Woodbridge Chapter lodge in VA, June 30, 1964, where she served later as the president.

One of mother's treasures, "Footprints,"  is pictured here on the right.  Just click on it to enlarge.  Mother was a major influencing factor in my life at all times, and it was so difficult to lose her.  She is often in my thoughts, and is missed very much.



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Mother's obituary
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Mother's Service
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Mother's urn
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Mother was of the Episcopal faith; she was cremated and her remains are beside dad at:
St. Mary's Episcopal Church
4311 W San Miguel St,
Tampa, FL

Mother's & Dad's
remains are in
the middle of
the cross above

Pat's Web Graphics
Background Music  

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Herman Helfrich's Page

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Main Index of Names

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Click on Rose for 
Mary's McCoy Family