|Born Helen Landau Mittelstaedt on July 10, 1911 in New Orleans, LA., Helen was the first born of a large and loving family. In that family, music and the Methodist Church formed an important center in her life. Her life would revolve around that center all her 85 years. The Mittelstaedt clan spent many an evening gathered around a piano and many a Sunday morning in the Eighth Street Methodist Church.
It was at a church retreat that Helen met a handsome young Methodist preacher by the name of Richard Elwin Walton. They courted by mail and married in 1939. Their marriage would prove to be a true partnership. In the many churches they served, you could find them working side by side. As Helen typed the stencil for a bulletin, “Dickie” put the finishing touches on the sermon. As that sermon was preached, you’d find Helen perched on the organ bench, feet barely touching the pedals, the day’s hymns carefully marked. This partnership endured when Richard was asked to start up and run the conference’s first temporary shelter for abused and abandoned children. Helen found her niche in this new ministry without missing a beat. She tackled the mountainous housekeeping tasks involved in re-organizing what had been a home for unwed mothers to a new purpose. Helen was at her happiest bringing her talents to the service of her husband’s ministries. This tiny woman, of huge spirit and conscientious work ethic, enriched the decades this couple spent playing an active and productive role in the Louisiana Conference.
In 1975, Helen, born and bred in the city, adapted to country life as they entered semi-retirement. They moved to a farm in south Louisiana to care for Richard’s aged father. This task she also tackled with energy. In these years Helen could never be found without a piece of needlework in her lap, hands working thread into gifts and objects of beauty. And those hands continued to bring music to nearby churches for many years.
Beginning in 1946, the Waltons had three children--Richard, Anna and ten years later, Christie. Helen parented with a loving touch and the watchful eye of a mother hen. She encouraged their individual talents. She praised and rewarded their accomplishments, then pointed with pride to the productive, successful adults they became. Helen had five grandchildren. In later years, her birthday each summer became cause for a family reunion of the children scattered from Oregon to South Texas. Over a mountain of boiled crabs, her family gathered to celebrate another year of this tiny wonder.
Helen died January 23, 1997 in Nederland, TX where she and her beloved husband had come to live in 1995.
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, 1997; p. 273 By Christie Walton|