Helen 's parents were Evan Rollo Keislar and Janet Rushworth Keislar. She was born in Los Angeles, California, on March 22, 1949. She was the first of three children. Her brother, Robert (Bob) was born in 1953, and her sister, Katherine (Kathy) was born in 1956.
Her father was a professor in the education department at UCLA, and her mother taught nursery school at the local Presbyterian church. The family lived in nearby Brentwood.
Helen attended the UCLA University Elementary School (UES) on campus, Paul Revere Junior High School, and Pacific Palisades (Pali High) High School. She did her undergraduate work at UCLA, majoring in French, where she graduated Suma Cum Laude and became a member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic society. She studied in France and lived and worked for two years at a Bible School in France, where she perfected her fluency in French. She studied at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she earned her Masters in Biblical Studies. Her thesis was New Testament Narratives and Normative Patterns: An Interpretive Study of Acts 8:4-25.
After leaving Regent College, Helen returned to Los Angeles where she worked at the Logos Christian Bookstore in Westwood Village next to the UCLA campus. It was there that she met Bruce, and their dating process slowly began. She later was hired by a family friend who was the principal at the St. Michaels and All Angels Episcopal Day School in Studio City, to teach English, French, and Latin to junior high students .
In 1984, she and Bruce were married at the Westwood Methodist Church, very close to the UCLA campus, She then joined Bruce in the small Central Valley town of Avenal, where he was teaching 1st and 2nd grade at the Avenal Elementary School. One year later, on July 4, 1985, their first son, John Hunnewell Boyer, was born. A year later the young family moved to Hanford, California. Bruce continued to teach in Avenal, later transfering to the Hanford Elementary School District, where he taught for 27 years. While Bruce was in the classroom, Helen choose to devote herself to her children and to the church. On November 9, 1990, their second son, Peter McKissock Boyer, was born. During her child rearing years, Bruce and Helen attended several churches, the First Baptist Church in Avenal, the First Presbyterian Church in Hanford, and the Episcopal Church of the Saviour in Hanford. In each church she gave herself enthusiastically to the Christian Ed. programs for children. At the Church of the Saviour, she learned about and developed for the church's youth the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd curriculum. It is an approach, originating in the Catholic Church, which leads children into a deep relationship with God and the liturgy of the church through hands-on materials, utilizing techniques based on the teaching philosophy of Maria Montessori. She took training courses each summer, two weeks at a time, but in the whole process, she drew on her experience from the UCLA elementary school that she had attended as a child. The school had utilized a hands-on approach, and that approach never left Helen.
During the family's thirteen years in the Episcopal Church, Helen was quietly reading, researching, and considering the Catholic Church and its teachings. In 2002, she attended St. Brigid's yearlong initiation class as an explorer. In 2003, Bruce attended the class as well, testing the waters. In 2004, Helen, Bruce, and Peter attended the class, but this time, with the firm resolution of entering the Church at the Easter Vigil mass, April 2005. John, however, had beat the rest of the them to the punch. Attending Thomas Aquinas College, in Santa Paula, California, he entered the Catholic Church one year earlier, in April 2004.
At Church of the Saviour, Helen was an active member in the church choir, but at St. Brigid, she chose to stay in the pew as a regular Sunday worshiper. Eventually though, when Bruce joined the choir, she would go to choir practices with him, and everyone pretty much expected that the two of them would be there each and every Thursday night. She was also active in the Catholic Daughters organization for several years. She went to the churchs Adoration Chapel on a regular basis, and eventually, she and Bruce had a weekly date with their Eucharistic Lord at 11:00 pm every Friday night.
In 2009 or 2010, the effects of Alzheimers Disease slowly began to make its presence felt in her life. At first she could still drive, shop for groceries, and write checks, but unexpected lapses in memory would pop up. Spoons or other objects would appear in her purse or under her pillow. Eventually it became clear that driving was no longer safe. Then reading and writing began to leave her, until they were but a distant memory. In 2015, Bruce retired from teaching. It was then that he began his full time job of caregiver. He quickly became chief cook and bottle washer, and a whole lot more. Despite that they were able to travel by car, plane, and train, visiting John and Peter and their growing families, as well as Bruces sister and family in Wisconsin. Just four years ago, when Bruces sisters, Darcy and Carol, came to visit, Bruce and Helen took them to Sequoia National Park, and Bruce and Helen climbed to the top of Morro Rock. 4 years and 3 months later, however, Helen was barely able to walk around their 1/3 mile block. Alzheimers Disease is a respecter of no person, not even someone as loving as Helen. During that time, Bruce drew upon the strength, skills, and kindness of several caregivers to allow him to take regular breaks. Those caregivers were Zewide Bahta, Carol Hubley, and Wendy Riley.
During her last days Helen was cared for by the loving and professional caregivers at the Quail Park Memory Care facility in Visalia, California, just 20 miles from her home. At the same time, she was surrounded by a cloud of supporters, friends, family members, as well as persons who did not know her personally but who cared about her, were touched by her story, and who lifted her up with their prayers. Bruce, and all of the family thank each and every person who has known and loved Helen. I am sure that she has enriched your lives, but you have, most assuredly, enriched hers.
To God be the Glory, Thanks be to God.
Visitation for Helen will be on Sunday, September 12, 2021 from 1-5pm with a Rosary service at 3pm at Whitehurst McNamara Funeral Home, 100 W. Bush St., Hanford. Funeral Mass will take place on Monday, September 13, 2021 at 3:30pm at St. Brigid Catholic Church, 1001 N. Douty St., Hanford.