Les and Jan Kelly Helfrich

November 12, 1978


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

Bill and Madeline Kelly, Jan, Les, Jackie and Chuck Helfrich
,  Just as with Heather, where do we begin? We had only Bill for two years and we wanted another baby, so Bill would not grow up alone. When Bill and I joined your dad in Germany in 1955, I had several bad episodes with kidney infections. At first, the doctors said I should not have any more children, but he decided to let us go on and try and he said he would watch me closely throughout the pregnancy. Much unlike Bill, you were not to become a reality for some time. It took over a year for me to become pregnant. The doctor told me that I could eat anything I wanted, because I was so thin, and perhaps I would keep some of the weight after you were born. I put on 50 pounds during the pregnancy and, as always, lost all of it within a couple of months.

The pregnancy was uneventful, and then the morning I woke up and said "this was the day," your Dad took me to the hospital at Bitburg Air Force Base. I was in there almost 12 hours, again with the contractions being five minutes apart from the beginning. You have heard this story many times, but I was so exhausted, that finally toward delivery time, I could not push anymore and the nurse got up with all of her 300 pounds that she was packing and starting pushing on my stomach, as she was saying "you are not having this baby, I am having it for you." What is it with nurses and me, I wonder? Well, the problem was your shoulders, they were so large. All one has to do today is just look at you and they can see what I am talking about, right? The day was also a Tuesday and you were born at 8:35 a.m. and the doctor (Schildwaechter) said that you were a big healthy boy, and again, I asked "does he have all ten fingers and toes?" The doctor said you did and then we found out that you weighed 8 lbs. 7 3/4 oz., 20 inches long and chest of 14 inches. You also had red hair and blue eyes. You were spoiled rotten from the gitgo.

Mona and Jim Graddy were your godparents and they said you were a mess, a character from the beginning, with mischief written all over your face. They did nothing but smile when they looked at you. Then, when we came back to the states from Germany a few months later, I was pregnant with Ron, bigger than a barn and carrying you and your Dad had a cast on his leg from an accident. We drove across the country to our next station, and you and Bill were good travelers, just as your daughters are today.

You had chicken pox at the age of 6 months, and your dad caught them from you, but that is the only disease that I put in your baby book. You were always into something when you were little, the only one who fell on the lawn mower blade and cut your leg so badly, needed stitches, broke your arm, got into rat poison and had to have your stomach pumped, etc., and it was always to the emergency room with you, it seemed. They gave you the nickname of "Les, the Mess," and "Dennis the Menace." In your baby book, it says "life gets more and more interesting. There are many things I like to do, but best of all I like to get into mischief." You survived those accident prone years and did well in school, and played the trumpet in the concert band. I always remembered you saying over the years that when you attended Paul and Ellen's wedding, that when the music began in the background for Ellen to march down the aisle and it was a trumpeter, the hair stood up on the back of your neck. You will find the "Echo Taps" with trumpets on the military cemetery on this site to be special to you, I am sure.

This is one that you probably don't want your daughters to know about. The time when "streaking" was the fashion, and you streaked over the Gandy Bridge. And, the time that you and your best friend, Bob, went to your rival high school and sprayed their black panther with pink paint. Bob dropped his wallet and they caught you both later, didn't they? Of course, I never knew about those episodes until many years later. One of your most memorable childhood memories, from what I remember, was the time you went to the Boy Scout Summer Session at Camp Philmont out west. You graduated from Robinson High and you were determined that you were going into the army and become a military policeman, and you did just that.

Remember when your grandmother Josey and I drove your old mustang up to your graduation from boot camp, and we were almost asphyxiated along the way because there was something wrong with your car? Then, you were stationed in Alaska, where you met your wife to be, Janet Kelly. Jan's dad was a company commander in the air force, and you were an enlisted man in the army. What a combination. You were the first one of the four sons to get married, and you wanted us all to be there, but we were scattered everywhere. Yet, we managed to surprise you with Margie, your dad, Ron, Paul and me all coming in on one plane and then Bill coming in on another plane from Hawaii, so we all arrived in Anchorage at the same time. That was no small feat to pull off. You were so thrilled to see all of us that everyone in the airport could hear you squealing with surprise. Your wedding was beautiful and we were so glad we could all be together.

Over the years, it has been great to go to Alaska on five different occasions to see you guys. It is always nice to have you all come down here every other year too. You went on and got your degree in computer sciences and you now have a job that you really enjoy, supervising a customer service group, and that is quite rewarding, monetarily too, but more than anything else, you found your niche with the job. We could not be happier for you guys. One of your strong points, Les, is that you have a very compassionate personality and would give the shirt off of your back to anyone. You have made us very proud of you.

Love you, Mom and Dad




May 1957 - Shower invitation for Les's arrival

1958 - Bill trying to straighten out Les

Les - 1958



Les - 1962



1962 - Ron on teacher's lap and Les to her left


1975 - Les's Band Patch


1976 - Letter from Les in the U. S. Army

1976 - Left - Les Helfrich - Right - Mike Ewing

Guess Who??? - 1991



1994 - Les with his little teddy bear in Alaska



2004 - The little girl's name was Zoe and she had been
saving things for weeks
(carrots and beets) for Rudolph.  
She wanted Santa to make sure they were ok
before she left them
by the fireplace on Christmas Eve.
 December 10, 2004
I have to admit, I think I get more of a kick
playing Santa than the kids. - Les

July 2007 - Les on the right after a fishing trip with Rusty Becker



Jan's mother, Madeline, told me the story of Jan's birth. Madeline wanted to get the laundry done and they did not have a washer or washing machine, so she put the clothes in the bath tub and knelt on the floor to begin washing them. Suddenly, she felt that something was wrong and she called her husband, Bill, and told him she thought she was in labor.
Before Bill could get home, Madeline knew that she could not wait, so she called a taxi, and went straight to the hospital. She remembers that the doctor told her in the delivery room, "Mrs. Kelly, I know that you are in the air force, but you need to have this baby on the table, not in the air." Madeline said she did not know what she was doing to cause the doctor to say that, but Jan arrived in less than an hour after she got to the hospital.

Jan was a good baby for the first week, until two little boys downstairs set their apartment on fire and they ran up to Madeline and Bill's and hid in the bathroom. Bill ran down to put the fire out, and as Madeline was running past the door with Jan in her arms, covered in her blanket, Madeline's hair was burned off her arms. The firefighters had to break out Bill and Madeline's window with fire hoses, to rescue the boys because they would not come out of the apartment. Madeline said that Jan had colic from there on for about a month, and Madeline wondered if the trauma of that event caused Jan to suffer from colic.

Jan played the saxophone in high school, and was in 4H, winning first place in sewing. At the state fair in northern California, Jan entered her Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls and won first place for her age group, at the age of 10. She met Les in Alaska while she was a senior still in high school and they were both working at McDonalds. Les was working there as an assistant manager. They dated from February until after Jan graduated and then they married in November. 

Jan, we are happy that Les found you.  Just wish we could see all four of you more often.

Love you, Chuck and Jackie


Jan - 1971






For "AFTER WEDDING" for Les and Jan and family pictures, check with Jackie for the link at
[email protected]
Background Music - "String of Pearls"