By Chris Mayhew
Enquirer staff writer
FORT THOMAS - In the last year, Helyn Mae Hehl inspired everyone who knew her.
Mrs. Hehl had cancer since 1998, but doctors gave her only a few weeks to live a year ago after finding uterine cancer, said her daughter, Barb Koehler of Fort Thomas.
Mrs. Hehl died Wednesday at her Fort Thomas home. She was 79.
She surprised everyone by being the life of a party with her wit and laughter last New Year's Eve and amazed her physician with her determination, Koehler said.
"There were certain times when it was painful for her, but she faced each day and dealt with it," her daughter said. "I don't know how much she knew how she inspired other people."
Mrs. Hehl spent her life caring for her family, helped advise her husband on his political career, and volunteered her time in the community.
"She was always there when I came home from school," Kohler said. "When I walked in the door, there she was."
Mrs. Hehl was her husband's "rock" during his political career as a Campbell County district court judge, judge-executive and a state representative, her daughter said.
"She was my confidant," said her husband of 58 years, Lambert Hehl Jr. "She made an excellent spouse and mother and grandmother, and always, her kids were forefront."
The Hehls were childhood sweethearts.
"She lived a street behind us on 15th in south Newport. We lived on 16th," Mr. Hehl said. "I'd always tease her that she made four or five trips around the block each day just to see me."
In July 1942, six months after they started "going steady," Mrs. Hehl moved to Columbus with her parents, Mr. Hehl said.
"We made 33 trips to see each other," he said.
Mr. Hehl joined the Marines Corps during World War II. After he returned home, the two wed in 1946.
Mrs. Hehl was a Girl Scout troop leader when her daughters were young, and volunteered at St. Luke Hospital, working in the gift shop for many years.
She volunteered at the Brighton Center in Newport and was a member of the Campbell County Democratic Women's Club and St. Catherine's Mother's Club.
"People, especially the women who knew her, have stopped me on the street and they tell me, 'She was such an attractive woman outside, but she was a very attractive woman inside her heart,' " Mr. Hehl said.
Other survivors include another daughter, Susan Snyder of Charleston, S.C.; a brother, Bert Bathiany III of Fort Thomas; four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
Services have been held. Burial was in St. Stephen Cemetery in Fort Thomas. A.C. Dobbling & Son Funeral Home in Fort Thomas handled arrangements.
Memorials: Hospice of Northern Kentucky, 1403 Alexandria Pike, Fort Thomas 41075; or Madonna House of Northern Kentucky, 25 Orphanage Road, Fort Mitchell 41017.
SPECIAL REPORT: HEALTH INSURANCE
Tailored plans a high-fee stopgap
Workers bracing for insurance shock
Exec's tough call: Covering his family
Doing what's right loses out to costs
Rising fees eclipse prescription needs
Family does without, praying they'll get by
Subsidized coverage key, Springer says
Campaign foot soldiers work to get out the vote
Appeals court decision: Vote in your precinct
GOP drops voter challenges
Integrity Hall has hosted many campaigners
Election boards prepare for it all as vote day nears
Clooney's Kentucky roots, fame vs. Davis' business background
Some candidates want voters to split ticket
Mall key issue in city race
Three-way race for judge divides county
Open letter latest attack on Yoder
Poll: Bunning lead shrinking
Election 2004 page
Men defy stereotype, find joy in teaching
Thousands help better our region
Queen City's grand old flag best in Ohio; Louisville is tops in Ky.
IN THE TRISTATE
Krohn shows off after $3M remodeling
Tutor needed to grasp school funding?
Forum on public records law Wednesday
Would smoking ban singe business?
Crowley: No accounting for missteps in Senate race
Bronson: I keep getting telephone calls from nut jobs
Good Things Happening
Helyn Mae Hehl's strength inspired
Letitia O'Neil studied integration
Newport's 150 years of firefighting
Northern Kentucky News in Brief
'Warmth' shelter seeks money
Mustang kicks up its heels