Helmer Clayton Wallan
Helmer Clayton Wallan, a lifetime Central Oregonian, died Sunday, August 25, in Redmond, Oregon, at the age of 94.
Helmer was born on April 25, 1925, at home in Crosby, North Dakota, to Fritz and Cora (Anderson) Wallan. At age 11, Helmer and his family moved to Bend, Oregon. There he attended grade school and graduated from Bend High School in 1943. He attended Central Oregon Community College, raising rabbits to help pay for his tuition.
During World War II, Helmer, his three brothers, and father served in the Navy and the Army, respectively. Helmer was a Navy SeaBee, serving in the Philippines. While in the war, he began corresponding with a pretty girl back home named Bette Davis. Their friendship blossomed over the course of 1944 and '45, and when Helmer returned from the war, he proposed to Bette.
On June 28, 1947, Helmer and Bette married at the First Lutheran Church in Bend. Helmer and Bette moved to Madras in 1957, where Helmer worked for McCoulou's Department store managing the shoe department. A few years later, he opened We's Menswear and Family Shoes. He owned and operated We's until he "retired" and sold the business in the late seventies. He became a realtor and enjoyed helping others fulfill their dreams of owning a home, as well as a bus driver for the school district. He truly loved the kids on his buses.
Helmer believed that in order to have a thriving community that you must give your time and energy, which he did for over 60 years. Helmer served as County Commissioner for eight years, led the Economic Development Committee and participated and led the Jefferson County Jaycees, the Community Development Committee, and Central Oregon Regional Development Committee. He was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, Rotary and Elks. He was chairman for Little League and Senior League baseball. He also served on the Jefferson County Fair Board for 16 years, during which time, the board negotiated for the land where the fairgrounds sits today and played a role in the development of the first indoor arena in Central Oregon. He also served as the President of American Field Exchange, a program for international students living in the United States for one school year. He and Bette, in coordination with members of the Warms Springs community, began the AFS Powwow weekend providing the opportunity for the exchange students to learn the traditions of the Native Americans. Helmer was named Citizen of the Year in both Bend and Madras several times, and although he was honored with many awards in his lifetime, he believed the most valuable honor was that of being a husband, father and friend.
Helmer was an active member of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Madras. He served in several capacities, including church council, council president, elder and deacon. As Bette would say, "There probably aren't many men that have served on more unpaid committees than Helmer."
In July 2001, Helmer married Carol Andrews, a friend from his grade school days in Bend. They remained married until his death.
He is survived by his current wife, Carol (Andrews) Wallan; two daughters and their families, Janice, Mark, Angela and Matthew Mallory of Milwaukie, Oregon, Katie, Scott and Sydney Vroman of Newbury Park, California, and his son, Jim, Kim, Sarah, Brett and Eric Wallan of Medford, Oregon. He has one great- granddaughter, Myah Mallory.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 52 years, Bette Jean (Davis) Wallan; his mother and father, Cora and Fritz Wallan; and his brothers, Floyd (Skip) Wallan, Arthur Wallan and Luverne (Vernie) Wallan.
Visitation was held August 30, at Bel-Air Colonial Funeral Home, and the funeral was September 3 at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Madras. Burial was held at Greenwood Cemetery in Bend.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Jefferson County Senior Center or the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. Donations may be sent in care of Bel-Air Colonial Funeral Home, 762 NE 10th Street, Madras, OR 97741.