Helen Thaut was a tireless worker and volunteer

Helen Thaut, an avowed multi-tasker, would re-line her kitchen cupboards or bake bread before going to work at the welfare office in Everett.

“She never walked to different parts of the office, but would remind you of an Olympic power walker,” co-worker Barbara Nolte said. “She was like a whirlwind.”

Thaut exuded that effervescence until she was slowed a few years ago by heart disease. Pastor Charles Lewis said Thaut, the pillar of the First Presbyterian Church of Snohomish congregation, had more energy than a platoon of Marines.

Helen L. Thaut died at her Snohomish home Nov. 24. She was born Feb. 3, 1926, in Odessa, one of eight children. She graduated from Odessa High School as valedictorian and class president in 1942, at the age of 16. She married Fred Thaut in 1946, and they raised five sons.

Her middle son, Dennis, said consistent themes in his mother’s life were energy, humor, courage, work, patriotism, faith and love of family. She planned her own funeral service, which shouldn’t surprise anybody, he said.

Dennis Thaut mentioned an old saying, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.”

“My mother handed out enough medicine to be a major pharmaceutical company,” he said.

Their Snohomish household with five boys was loud, Dennis Thaut said. There was never a need for an alarm clock.

“You could hear Mom pitter-patter and say, ‘Rise and shine,’” he said. “I used to think what a goofy thing to say, but it’s a statement of how she lived her life.”

He said his mother’s feet hit the floor in the morning going a million miles an hour.

Thaut, 79, was an active member of her church for almost 50 years. She retired in 1992 as office manager of the state Department of Social and Health Services office in Everett after 25 years with the state. She hardly slowed down, driving folks to doctor appointments, visiting shut-ins and working for literacy.

Jan Hayward, a former secretary at First Presbyterian, said Thaut took her many church duties to heart. “On a typical week, I would see her three or four times,” he said. “She effused energy.”

Thaut drove her young sons on their paper routes Sunday mornings in the family Pontiac. Her husband, Fred, who died about seven years ago, served in the Marine Corps in the South Pacific, engaging in four major invasions. The couple worked tirelessly for veterans causes, including the formation of a World War II monument in Olympia.

Dr. Leeon Aller worked with Helen Thaut in the Boy Scout program, where they needed to keep their sanity in the woods when they brought the wrong food, he said.

“I liked her spontaneity and positive attitude,” Aller said. “Dismiss bad things of the past and don’t make them an excuse.”

Thaut was preceded in death her parents, Nathaniel and Barbara Lobe; her husband, Fred; brothers Edwin, Leo, Irvin and Lonnie; sister Ednes; and grandson Evan.

She is survived by her five sons, Doug and his wife, Linda, of Ocean Shores; Randy and his wife, Becky, of Snohomish; Dennis and his wife, Shari, of Stanwood; Joel of Granite Falls; and Russ and his wife, Claudia, of Snohomish; siblings Barbara Moline, Don and Eugene; 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A died-in-the-wool Republican, Thaut often sent letters to the editor of The Herald. In one dated Aug. 19, 1999, she deplored “phony mourning” displayed by the media regarding the death of John F. Kennedy Jr., and in another blasted The Herald for showing its political bias in headlines.

“A couple of her sons leaned to the left,” Dennis Thaut said. “We had some interesting discussions.”

The Seattle Mariner fan watched Fox news morning to night.

“As a small child, Mom watched ‘Queen for a Day,’” Dennis Thaut said. “She would cry when a widow in Chicago with 13 kids got a washing machine.”

His mother always had tears of joy, he said. He said he could see her now, with fresh lipstick, half a stick of gum, taking the lay of the land, wondering what her next assignment would be.

Columnist Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451 or oharran@heraldnet.com.

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