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Helen Townsend, of Hartford City, Indiana, passed away on August 14, 2023 surrounded by her family. She was 94.
Born on the family farm in Henry County, Indiana on May 3, 1929, Helen was the third and youngest child of Fred Hardin and Mildred Hardin. She attended elementary school in Greensboro. Growing up, Helen worked on the farm, helped her mother in the kitchen and garden, and was active in 4-H where she learned how to cook, bake, and preserve foods.
Helen graduated from Knightstown High School in 1947. Though her parents did not attend college, they encouraged all of their children to attend college. Like her older brothers, Lowell and Russell, Helen attended Purdue University, enrolling in fall of 1947. While at Purdue, Helen was a member of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority. She also was active on campus, serving as the Secretary of the Young Republicans. While at Purdue, she also met, and started dating, Wayne Townsend, a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and the President of the Young Democrats. She graduated in 1951 with a degree in Dietetics. Helen’s degree required a one year internship at an accredited hospital. She selected Charity Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Helen married her college sweetheart, Wayne Townsend, on November 1, 1953. In March of 1954, Wayne and Helen moved to the Washington D.C. area as part of Wayne’s military service at Fort Holibird, Maryland as a special agent in the Counter Intelligence Corps. While there, Helen and Wayne had two children, Jay (born in 1954) and Mark (born in 1955). Helen and Wayne returned to the family farm near Upland, Indiana in March of 1956. They then had three more children, Lisa (born in 1958), Steve (born in 1960), and Alan (born in 1963). In 1965, Helen and Wayne purchased a farm in neighboring Blackford County, and the family moved there the following year.
Helen was extremely proud of her children. All five graduated from Blackford High School. And all five also graduated from Purdue University.
Helen loved all aspects of her marriage to Wayne. She called it a partnership. The two of them grew the family farm from a few acres and some pigs into a successful grain and hog farm. The two of them raised five children and helped them with their 4-H projects, schoolwork, and extra-curricular activities. Wayne enjoyed politics so Helen helped him campaign. Wayne served in the Indian General Assembly for 22 years. In the months leading up to election day, Helen often loaded the kids into the family station wagon and visited small towns in Wayne’s legislative district, passing out campaign literature door to door. When Wayne was in Indianapolis serving in the Legislature, Helen managed the farm, kept the books, and helped the kids with their farm chores. In 1984, Wayne was the Democratic nominee for Governor in the State of Indiana. Helen criss-crossed the State of Indiana making speeches on Wayne’s behalf. Wayne lost narrowly to Robert Orr even though the Republican candidate for President, Ronald Reagan, carried Indiana by a wide margin.
Helen loved her work and her community. For many years, she worked at Marion General Hospital as a dietitian, helping plan meals for both patients and visitors. She enjoyed helping people heal and get better. In Hartford City, she was a 50 year member of Wit and Wisdom, a literary club focused on life-long learning.
Helen loved Purdue University. Helen and Wayne were regulars at the Purdue Christmas Show, football games, and events hosted by the President’s Council. They often invited the Purdue Glee Club to perform at their Hartford City home for family and friends.
Most importantly, Helen loved her church. She was raised a Quaker, and the church was the foundation for Helen, her brothers, and their parents. When Helen and Wayne settled in Upland, they joined a Quaker church, First Friends Church of Marion. They made many friendships, and those friendships lasted a lifetime.
Helen is survived by (a) her son Jay (his wife Rebecca and their children Richard (married to Amy), James (married to Kristy), Jonathan, Emerson, and Oliver), (b) her son Mark (his children Katherine (married to Andy Glover), Hanna (married to Kyle Moore), and Ben), (c) her daughter Lisa McHone (her children Jenni, Ann, Katie (married to Kemmon Jones), Chris, and Liz), (d) her son Steve (his wife Beth and their children Sarah (married to Ryan Smith) and Jacob), and (e) her son Alan (his wife Ruth Ann and their children Aja (married to Doug Pirtle), Jay, and Jack (married to Megan Stebbins)). Helen also is survived by great grandchildren (Greta, Colette, Celia, Sophie, Ethan, Payton, Moss, and Logan) and many loving nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Helen was preceded in death by her husband (Wayne), her parents (Fred and Mildred Hardin), her brothers (Lowell and Russell Hardin), and her son-in-law (Paul McHone).
The funeral service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, August 25, 2023 at the First Friends Church of Marion, 2211 North Wabash Avenue, Marion, Indiana, 46952. Burial will follow at Grant Memorial Cemetery in Marion, Indiana.
Friends may call at the First Friends Church of Marion on Thursday, August 24, 2023 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Friends also may call from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the day of the funeral service.
In lieu of flowers, friends are invited to contribute, in memory of Helen, to one of the following charitable causes: (1) First Friends Church of Marion, 2211 North Wabash Avenue, Marion, Indiana, 46952; and (2) Blackford County Community Foundation (designated for the Townsend Fund), 121 N. High Street, P.O. Box 327, Hartford City, Indiana 47348-0327.