Lester Helen Duncan Stewart, retired teacher with forty-one years in the classroom, died in her Comanche home on Friday, September 14, 2001. Funeral services were held at 2:00 PM on Tuesday, September 18, 2001, in the Comanche Ray of Hope Church with Pastors Mike McCord and Dow Pannell officiating. Burial was in Fairlawn Cemetery under the direction of Dudley Funeral Home of Comanche.
Mrs. Stewart was born in a farm home east of Terral, Oklahoma, on November 11, 1915, to W.H. Lester and Mary Jane Duncan. Her parents had arrived in Indian Territory in 1909 and had ordered a five-room bungalow home from Sears and Roebuck. The home was delivered by rail and brought to the family farm site by wagons. It was assembled by family and friends who added a front porch and then painted the home.
Helen started her school career at age five and had an endless number of stories to relate about her 1½ mile trek daily on foot or horseback. Helen called the schoolroom her magic place and never lost that feeling.
Helen graduated from Terral High School at age 16 in a class of eight and left for college at Central State College the following Saturday.
The depression halted Helen's education and she returned to help on the family farm. She went into nurse's training and worked in the Ryan hospital as well as in numerous other businesses, including a beauty parlor and a telephone office. She spent an interesting six months as secretary and editor for the poet Gaytha Wood Taylor. She attended Oklahoma College for Women for several semesters and finally graduated from Central State Oklahoma in 1941 with a Bachelor's Degree in Education.
Helen married L. Jack Stewart in 1941, and taught in rural schools in the area until the post office transferred Jack to Comanche in 1945.
Jack and Helen had three daughters, Maryanna, Andrea, and Linda. Both Helen and Jack were active members of the Comanche Methodist Church and several civic and fraternal groups including: ØE.S.A., I.O.O.F., Lodge, Delta Kappa Gamma, and the Lions Club. Helen directed local theater productions and organized fund-raising drives for the Red Cross. She returned to teaching in 1950 in Comanche and continued until 1954 when she went to Meridian Schools. She returned to Comanche and stayed until 1972, when she moved to Clarksville, Texas, to begin an eleven-year career in the Texas school systems. After returning home to Comanche in 1983, she ended her forty-one year career with retirement in 1987.
During her teaching career she emphasized her belief in constant education by attending numerous seminars and training conferences including newspaper seminars sponsored by the Wall Street Journal, the Living Textbook Seminars of The Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma University Federal Institute for Foreign Language, Reading Institutes at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, Ecology Institutes at North Texas State University, and scholarship study at the Smithsonian Institute.
The authored The Daily Newspaper as a Tool for Learning, One Hundred Years; Methodists in Annona, The First United Methodist Church of Comanche; Cow Creek Waters and Brick Red Earth; and Acorns from Cow Creek Oaks.
Helen was preceded in death by Jack Stewart in 1970, and by her second husband, Marcus Nash, in 1979.
She is survived by: her three daughters - Maryanna Lewis of Perkins, OK, Andrea Stewart of Las Vegas, NV, and Linda Terrell of Bailey, CO; six grandchildren - Michelle Ferguson of Bethany, OK, Janel Glasier of Loyal, OK, Otis Jack Terrell of Tulsa, OK, Nora, Olivia and Rachel Terrell of Bailey, OK; three great-grandchildren - Cody, Cali, and Trey Glasier of Loyal, OK; several nieces and nephews; and countless ex-students.