Helen Mai Waddle – Feb. 5, 1926–July 13, 2019
Helen was a devoted mother who had a wide circle of friends. She was a homemaker, master gardener, bridge player, music lover, reader, cook, traveler, civic volunteer, and steady churchgoer. She loved keeping her backyard garden and invited visitors to spend time on the patio in the company of her flowers under the shade of the big pecan tree.
Helen was born on the family farm in Trego County, Kansas, on Feb. 5, 1926, to Solomon and Elizabeth (Maier) Mai, with a midwife in attendance. The family of 10 grew wheat and raised cattle through dramatic times, including the Dust Bowl and Great Depression of the 1930s. She always remained close to her brothers and sister, and stayed in touch with the family’s Volga German heritage. As a young girl in her Lutheran church confirmation class, she was selected to recite the Christmas story in German to the congregation, a family and personal honor.
She attended Salt City Business College in Hutchinson, KS, and, right after World War II, met her future husband, petroleum engineer Paul R. Waddle, when they both worked at Carter Oil Co. in Great Bend, KS. They wed in Great Bend on Oct. 16, 1949, and, two years later, moved to Shreveport. Helen and Paul were married 54 years until Paul’s death in December 2003.
Over the years, Helen was active in many Shreveport organizations, including the Shreveport Symphony Guild, various bridge groups, book discussion clubs, as well as the PEO Sisterhood, where just recently she was recognized for 50 years of service. She was a committed member of Noel Memorial United Methodist Church for more than six decades. She played piano for many years, and enjoyed hosting young contestants who were in town for the Wideman International Piano Competition. In later years she looked forward to visits from her out-of-state nieces, who arranged marathon Scrabble games and took Helen to her favorite lunch spots. She loved the grounds of Norton Art Gallery, Broadway musicals, and the sounds of Bach.
Helen was always an animal lover. At age 12, when she broke her leg and had to stay in the hospital, her brothers snuck a kitten into her room, much to her joy, and no doubt easing the pain. She loved her long succession of cats over the next 80 years.
Helen was a very forgiving person, modest, cheerful, resilient, with the world’s sweetest smile, embodying Christian charity, Great Plains determination, and trusting God’s providence.
She is survived by her two children, Paul R. Waddle Jr. (Lisa) of Nashville, Tenn., and Alan K. Waddle of Shreveport, as well as brother Palmer Mai (Beverly) of St. Louis. She cherished her many nieces, nephews, and friends.
She is buried at Forest Park Cemetery in Shreveport.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a gift to Noel Memorial United Methodist Church.
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