At the age of seven, upon the death of her father, she and her family moved to Seattle’s Rainier Valley, a neighborhood called Columbia City.
Her mother married Phillip Paskan, a talented shoe cobbler who provided a great home for Helen and her three sisters, Mary, Katie, and Annie.
Growing up in both Spokane and Seattle, her family’s home acted as a stopping place for immigrating Croatians, where they were welcomed by a generous meal and conversation in their native language.
Helen attended St. Edward Parochial School, Columbia Grade School on Ferdinand Street, and Franklin High School.
As a violin player, she was a member of the Seattle All-City High School Symphony Orchestra and Visiting Concert Mistress representing Franklin High School.
She graduated from Edison Vocational School in Cosmetology, a trade she used to help fund her college education.
Helen graduated from the University of Washington in 1941 with a Bachelor of Science in Health & Physical Education.
She first taught Health & P.E.
at South Kitsap High School, and then for Seattle Public Schools and Seattle park systems.
During World War II, Helen served the American Red Cross as Assistant Field Director for the Tiburon Naval Base, U.S. 12th Fleet out of San Francisco.
In 1949, Helen married Victor W. Renz and moved back to Spokane, where they settled next-door to Vic’s parents in Veradale.
She taught at West Valley Junior and Senior High Schools in P.E.
and Health, and finished teaching in 1974 as a Junior High Counselor.
She helped Vic form H.A.V., Inc. and Sullivan Square Shopping Center.
Together they enjoyed 21 winters in Arizona, numerous cruises and trips to Europe, and the memorable friendships they made along the way.
Since returning to Spokane in 1949, she was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, dedicating her time to many committees for the Ladies Altar Society.
She was also a member of Liberty Lake Golf Course where she and Vic played couples.
Helen passed away peacefully on Tuesday, April 1st at 12:30PM in the company of her three children, Vicki Hoskins, Phillip Renz, and William Renz.
In addition to her children, she is survived by eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
She is preceded in death by her sisters, and her husband, who died on February 11, 2004.
She will be missed for countless things, but to name just a few: Her charisma, keen wit, twinkling charm, quirky Croatian phrases, insatiable good luck, enduring, timeless smile, and shapely legs fashioned by many active years as a P.E.
teacher, swimmer, golf and tennis player, and tenacious water aerobics buff.
A traditional funeral mass will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 10, 2014 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 4th & Adams, Spokane Valley, WA.
In lieu of flowers, donations made in Helen’s name to Hutton Settlement Children’s Home are deeply appreciated: 422 W. Riverside Suite 931, Spokane, WA 99201.
Funeral arrangements by Spokane Valley Dignity Funeral Homes