Sunday, October 24, 2004

Helyn Mae Hehl's strength inspired

She spent years as volunteer

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.


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