Helen Young Obituary

Helen H. Young
Helen H. Young
Helen H. Young

November 6, 1921 - April 7, 2022
Born in Iowa
Resided in Des Moines, Iowa
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Helen Harbour Young, age 100, musician, educator, business woman, preacher’s wife, mother and friend, slipped away at Wesley Austin Center on April 7, 2022. Helen enjoyed a good joke, cared deeply about family and friends, was a lifelong volunteer and a lifelong learner.

Born November 6, 1921, an only child, she lived an idyllic small town childhood in Greenfield Iowa, where her father, Harry Harbour, owned a produce business and her mother, Ruth Young Harbour, was a housewife and community volunteer. Helen began her college years at Cornell College, but when her father died in an accident, she transferred to Drake University to be closer to her grieving mother.

In college she studied piano and organ and served as an accompanist for student music groups. She was at Drake during the Pearl Harbor attacks and witnessed the departure of many men from campus and the arrival of the WACS recruits. She was in the Miss Drake court and the Relays Queen court as a student, and a member of Delta Gamma Sorority. She graduated from Drake with a degree in music education and later received a masters degree in Special Education. She taught music at Greenfield schools and Greenwood and Hanawalt schools in Des Moines. After the end of WWII she moved to New Jersey to marry the love of her life, Robert.

Helen married Robert William Young on March 2, 1946, and together they had four children, Lorna (Fred) Truck, Robert Jr. (Chris) Young, Joann (Wayne McCracken) McCracken Young, and Kenneth Young. Helen had four grandchildren, Benjamin Truck, Cynthia Young, Andrew Young, and Emma Young. She had two great granddaughters, Korra Sue Young and Alice Rey Young.

After ten years in New Jersey she and Robert and the children moved to Des Moines. Robert began an orthodontic practice after earning his orthodontic masters degree at Columbia University in New York. When the children were older Helen purchased a small pneumatic tool warehouse, and grew it into a thriving business. In addition to orthodontics, Robert took up a second career as an ordained Methodist minister and Helen joined him playing the organ and piano in many of the churches he served.

Helen enjoyed speculating on the qualities and characteristics she gave to each of her children. To Bob she gave a love of music, to Joann her sense of etiquette, to Ken, his sense of humor, and to Lorna she claimed to have passed a love of cooking. (This was Helen’s joke, and Lorna claims rather to have received from her a love of reading.)

Helen had a great sense of humor and always enjoyed a good laugh. She was also the family worrier which relieved us of the burden because we knew she would be worrying for us.

She was a devoted Methodist church volunteer and an active member of Des Moines Women’s Club where she held several leadership positions. She was a 73-year member of PEO (1943). She played the piano and organ and taught Sunday School and confirmation classes at numerous churches that Robert served, She also reviewed and edited his weekly sermons. As a resident of Wesley Grand in Des Moines she volunteered at Methodist Hospital, in the Adult Day Center, and other community activities.

Helen loved Stam’s Chocolates, roses and orchids, birds and flowering trees, classical music and jazz, lamb chops and homemade soups. She hated cheese-cake, tofu, action movies, and boring sermons. Helen will be remembered for her kindness, generosity and cheerful spirit.

Helen was preceded in death by her husband Robert and her son-in-law Wayne.

Memorial services will be held at Grace United Methodist Church on June 10 at 2 PM. Visitation will begin at 12:30 at the church. Memorial donations may be made in Helen’s name to Grace United Methodist Church Helen Young Music Fund, or Doctors without Borders.




Grace United Methodist Church
3700 Cottage Grove
Des Moines, IA US 50311
Friday, June 10, 2022
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Grace United Methodist Church
3700 Cottage Grove
Des Moines, IA US 50311
Friday, June 10, 2022
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM