Ruth Helen Beck Harvin
February 17, 1922 – July 26, 2020
Ruth Helen Beck Harvin, born in Houston on the 17th of February 1922, passed away peacefully on Sunday, the 26th of July 2020, in her own home.
The older daughter of Don F. Beck and Ruth D. Shackelford, she attended Houston public schools and was in the second graduating class of Lamar High School. She attended the University of Texas, where she pledged Kappa Alpha Theta. At UT she also met and fell in love with Bill Harvin, and they married on the 29th of November 1942, before Bill went off to the war as an officer in the Navy.
After Bill completed law school, he and Helen joined the family of the Baker Botts law firm, where they had many friends over the years. Helen was devoted to her husband, and they enjoyed 65 years of marriage before Bill passed away in 2007. She was very supportive of his career as a Baker Botts partner, and in later years as his caregiver. Always a good sport, she took up first golf and then fly-fishing to have activities they could do together. A strong—and sometimes feisty—woman, Helen was very much an equal partner in the marriage. And she kept Bill grounded. Once when Bill was ruminating, after receiving an award, that there were few great men left in the world, she cracked “and there is one less than you think, Buster.”
Helen was very proud of her three children, and no one could say a bad word to her about them. While they were young, she spent most of her time as a mother, actively involving herself in the PTA, scouts, and little league baseball. A believer in the value of education, she made sure they took their schoolwork seriously. While she offered firm guidance and counsel to her children, she encouraged them to be independent and self-reliant. She had them walk to elementary school and allowed them to roam the neighborhood on their bicycles. She instilled in them good values and a strong sense of family togetherness. The family regularly went to church together. She insisted on having dinner as a family, where her strong opinions made for lively conversations. She regularly corrected her kids’ grammar (fillers “you know” and “like” were not allowed). A great cook, leg of lamb, fried chicken, holiday oyster dressing, pancakes, and oatmeal raisin cookies were some of her specialties. She also told her kids they would “learn to like” her liver, cauliflower, and eggplant, but they never did. She loved family gatherings and made the kids’ cousins and friends always welcome at their house. Each summer the family took off on some cross-country adventure. Acknowledging with a smile her rule over the household, Bill and the kids nicknamed her “The Little General.”
Helen also had her playful side. She would get down on the floor and play with her kids and later her grandkids. A natural brunette, she shocked her family one day by coming home from the beauty salon as a blonde, which she remained for the rest of her life. She had a lifelong love of dancing, and one of her favorite dance tunes was “Bad Bad Leroy Brown.” She had a regular weekly bridge game with good friends and played golf at the Houston Country Club. Later in life she took up painting and she loved art. She liked to travel, particularly on trips that also involved art appreciation. Fond also of her wine, in her later years Helen particularly enjoyed a margarita and the Golden Beef Tacos at Los Tios, the site of several of her last birthday parties with her loving family of four generations.
Helen’s faith in Jesus Christ was strong and demonstrative. She was a longtime member of the Episcopal Church, first at Palmer Memorial Church, where her children were confirmed and the boys served as acolytes, and then for over 40 years at St. Martin’s. She generously supported St. Martin’s and other Episcopal institutions such as Episcopal High School and Seminary of the Southwest. When she became increasingly housebound, she appreciated very much the regular visits of the clergy and lay ministers of St. Martin’s. In addition, Helen was a docent at Bayou Bend for many years, a member of the Board of Visitors of MD Anderson Cancer Center, a Lifetime Member of PARTNERS at UTHealth Cizik School of Nursing, and President of the Houston Country Club Women’s Association. She and Bill were major donors of capital funds to Bo’s Place in memory of their son-in-law Bob Lawhon. They also established an endowed scholarship to enable needy Houston students to attend the University of Texas Law School.
After Bill retired in 1984, he and Helen began spending summers at the Old Baldy Club near Saratoga, Wyoming. There they gained new friends from around the country. They enjoyed having their children and grandchildren come visit them, play golf, fish for trout, and play games and watch the sunset on their wide back porch. They also spent part of the winter playing golf and socializing with other friends at Eldorado Country Club in Indian Wells, California.
Helen was predeceased by her parents, her husband, Bill; her sister, Irene Foster and brother-in-law, Joe Bob Foster, and her son-in-law, Bob Lawhon. She leaves behind a large family with loving memories of her long and wonderful life: her son, David Harvin and his wife Sally; her daughter, Susan Harvin Lawhon; and her son, Andy Harvin and his wife Lyl; seven grandchildren, Kimberly Harvin Bryant and her husband Todd; Billy Harvin and his wife Sheri; John Harvin and his wife Molly; Bryan Lawhon and his wife Katie; Harvin Lawhon and his wife Julia; Sahra Harvin and her wife Mary Walenta; and Emily Harvin Martins and her husband Ben; eleven great-grandchildren, Lauren, Carter and Andrew Bryant, Kacey, Maddie and Allie Harvin, Natalie and Eloise Harvin, Ellie Lawhon, and Ashton and Logan Lawhon; and her niece, Nancy Foster Simpson and her husband Reagan; and nephews, Bob Foster and his wife Connie; and Pat Foster and his wife Karen.
Her family is deeply grateful to Carlett Minnix and Nina Calvin for the longtime devoted and loving care they provided to Helen, and also to her other wonderful caregivers Pat Scott and Anita Branch.
As per Helen's wishes, the family will gather for an private interment service in the Garden of the Holy Cross at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.
In lieu of customary remembrances, the family requests with gratitude that memorial contributions in Helen’s name be directed to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church Endowment Fund, 717 Sage Road, Houston, TX, 77056; Bo’s Place, 10050 Buffalo Speedway, Houston, TX, 77054; or to the charity of your choice.
St. Martin's Episcopal Church Endowment Fund
717 Sage Road, Houston, TX, 77056
10050 Buffalo Speedway, Houston, TX, 77054
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Ruth Helen Beck Harvin
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