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Helen McKinley

November 12th, 1919 - August 25th, 2012

Helen Clarrissa McKinley passed away peacefully, on Saturday, at a local care facility after being surrounded by her family following a recent stroke. During her life, when asked how she was, her response was almost always “I’m fine”. We know she is still fine because she is in heaven with her precious Savior. Helen was born in Fort Collins, Colorado, to Robert Wilson Vance and Olive Gladys McKune Vance. Several years later Fred was born to complete their family. Her younger years were full of fun with relatives in Akron, CO, swimming, playing the piano, enjoying school, and helping her parents in the Vance Chicken Hatchery. Upon her high school graduation, she received a special scholarship to the Teachers College of Colorado, which covered all her expenses! After graduating, she began her four-year teaching career in Eckley and Wray, CO. She taught shorthand, typing, and bookkeeping as well as being the advisor for the annual. Notes from students and her fellow teachers have shown how much she was loved during this time. One of the ladies who lived in the boarding house with Helen introduced her to her brother Bill McKinley. Aunt Maxine was the matchmaker who helped to start a beautiful relationship. Helen and Bill were married on May 27, 1945 in Akron, CO. Shortly after their wedding, Bill and Helen went to work on a ranch in Wet Mountain Valley, CO. This new job brought about its own adventures as they soon learned they were working with convicts, and Helen found herself riding a horse to the grocery store on a regular basis (not one of her favorite activities). After working on the ranch, Helen and Bill went to work with Helen’s parents at the Vance Chicken Hatchery in Akron, CO and Bill’s parents on their farm in Yuma, CO when they were soon blessed with their first daughter, Patty. Their next stop was owning and operating the McKinley Self-Service Laundromat in Fort Morgan, CO, during which time they were blessed with two more daughters, Mary and Nancy. After Bill injured his back at the laundromat, they needed a business where he could stand most of the time. They then built and operated the Caldwell, ID, A&W Root Beer stand. The stand opened in 1955 and as they used to say, “It ran them for 9 ½ years.” Many special relationships were built during those years, especially the one with their carhop Juanita and her husband Marshall Brisbin of Nampa. Helen wore many hats as a young mom including children’s choir director and Sunday School teacher at the Methodist Church, Girl Scout leader, PTO officer, classroom mother, and amazing baker of anything sourdough! Then McKinley Realty became their focus and many houses, farms, and ranches were sold by Bill and Helen until their retirement. A friend recently said Helen was an “All American Mom!” They loved to travel and see family and friends. Their travels took them far and wide…Alaska, Hawaii, New England for the changing of the leaves, most of the remaining 50 states, Mexico, Canada, a Panama cruise, tours to the Scandinavian countries and Great Britain, and on many other exciting adventures. After a serious car accident in Dec. 2003, Helen and Bill moved to Valley View Retirement Community in Boise. Bill passed away on June 29, 2007. Six months later Helen moved to the Skilled Nursing side of Valley View and resided there until her death. Valley View quickly became her home. Some of her weekly highlights included Lawrence Welk on Saturday night, fellowship on Sundays at Cole Community Church, followed by lunch at Wendy’s, plus visits, cards, and calls from family and friends. So the next time you have a Wendy’s chocolate frosty, smile and think of Helen. She was preceded in death by her husband of 62 years William Robert McKinley, their infant daughter Martha Mae, her parents, and her brother Fred Vance. She is survived by her children Pat (Les) Bower of Chehalis, WA, Mary (Jack) Zarybnisky of Burley, ID, and Nancy Binford (Carl) Boehme of Boise; her grandchildren Phil and Bill Bower, Eric (Emily) and Michael Zarybnisky, Clay (Emily), Jeff (Jen), and Melissa Binford, Chris and Katy McDermott; her great grandchildren Brooke and Alex Bower, Lauren and Taylor Bower; Claire, Tyler, and William Zarybnisky, Lillian and Lucas Binford. A very special thanks to the Cole Community Church family and the staff of Valley View Retirement Home who have loved Helen so well the past 8 ½ years! The viewing will be Thursday, Aug. 30, 5-8 pm at Cole Community Church. There will be a graveside service Friday, Aug. 31, 3 pm at Morris Hill Cemetery followed by Helen’s Memorial Service Saturday, Sept. 1, 10 am at Cole Community Church. Memorials may be made to a charity of your choice or one of the following: International Essential Tremors Foundation, The Children’s Fund, or Special Olympics Idaho. Service Information

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