Helen E. Palmer Clayton

March 2, 1924January 8, 2013

Helen E. Clayton was known as many things to many people. She was a loved one, a friend, and someone special. To family and friends who knew her best, Helen will be remembered as a very exceptional person.

Helen was born on March 2, 1924 at home in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Andrew and Dionisia Palmer. Helen grew up in New Kensington, Pennsylvania and Chicago, Illinois.

Helen was raised with four siblings. She had four younger brothers; James, John, George, and Peter. Helen was usually involved in all sorts of activities with her siblings. She and her siblings experienced rivalries typical of a growing family, but they shared many life experiences over the years.

As a young girl, Helen had a number of interests. Like most children, she enjoyed playing and making up games. She was curious about the world around her and was often eager to explore it. Helen was an active child who took part in baseball. As a child, she liked playting baseball with the boys. However, to Helen, the most fun to be had was simply playing and spending time with her friends.

A typical teenager, Helen had a fairly happy high school experience, making that critical transition from adolescence to adulthood. She graduated from Tuley High School in 1941. She enjoyed some classes more than others, having favorite subjects and teachers. Her favorite class in high school was chemistry.

Helen enjoyed her college years, which may have been a challenge with all of the academics, responsibilities, and the sudden freedom that accompanied them, but Helen was able to manage the balancing act. Her favorite courses were chemistry and nutrition.

On June 3, 1945 Helen exchanged wedding vows with James Leroy Clayton at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois. Empathic and loyal, Helen was committed to making her new family happy.

Helen worked hard to be a good mother to her children and she did her best to fulfill their needs. Helen and James were blessed with two children; one son, James , and one daughter, Denise. Another blessing for them was the gift of two grandchildren, Eleni and Tia, and one greatgrandchild Keira.

Fortunately, Helen enjoyed what she did for a living. Showing a strong work ethic, Helen worked diligently and did her best to succeed in her career. She excelled as a waitress and made many friends working in the restaurant business for over fifty years. Helen always sought to be a team player, doing what was necessary in order to get the job done.

Helen enjoyed her leisure time by taking part in various hobbies. Her favorite activities were gardening and cooking for her family. She was content to enjoy her favorite pastimes alone but was also willing to share her interests with others.

Helen found pleasure in sports. Recreational sports included swimming, tennis, and fencing. Helen was also something of a sports fan and enjoyed following her favorite events whenever she had the chance to do so. Tops on her list were her beloved Cubs.

Throughout her life, Helen was a doer and was always actively involved in professional and community organizations. In high school, Helen was a member of the swimming team. During her childrens' early school years, Helen was very invovled with school activities, including the Parent Teacher Organization.

Helen’s faith was important to her. She was a member of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Chicago for over fifty-five years.

Helen enjoyed traveling and time away on vacations. It was a chance for her to renew and relax, to visit new places and experience new things. Favorite vacations included Egypt and Greece.

When Helen’s retirement finally arrived in 1998, she was well prepared. In retirement, she found pleasure in gardening in her backyard, cooking for her family, crocheting, and playing cards. Even in retirement, Helen continued to stay in touch with her old friends while making plenty of new acquaintances. Helen was active in her new community and felt fulfilled with the opportunities retirement offered her.

Helen passed away on January 8, 2013 at Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois. Helen fought a brave battle against several successive bouts of pneumonia. Helen is survived by her children, James and Denise; her grandchildren, Eleni and Tia; and her greatgrandchild, Keira. Services were held at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church. Helen was laid to rest in Elmwood Cemetery in Schiller Park, Illinois.

Simply stated, Helen was a good and kind person, an individual who will for all time be remembered by her family and friends as being a caring and giving person, someone who was a vital part of their lives. Helen leaves behind her a legacy of life-long friendships and many cherished memories. Everyone whose life she touched will always remember Helen E. Clayton.

OBITUARY Helen E. Clayton, nee Palmer, age 88, beloved wife of the late James L. Clayton; devoted mother of James D. (Deborah L.) Clayton and Denise E. (Neil J.) Gargiulo; loving grandmother of Eleni D. (Steve) Swon and Tia L. Gargiulo; great grandmother of Keira D. Swon. Helen was preceded in death by her parents Andrew (Dionisia) Palmer and four brothers: James, John, George and Peter Palmer. Helen was a lifelong resident of Harwood Heights. Visitation Thursday, January 10th, 4-8 pm at Blake-Lamb Funeral Home, 5015 Lincoln Ave., Lisle (on Rt. 53, ½ mile south of Ogden Ave. / Rt. 34). Visitation Friday, January 11th at 10:30 am until time of Funeral Service at 11:00 am at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 2727 W. Winona St., Chicago,IL. Interment Elmwood Cemetery, River Grove, IL. For additional information, call the funeral home at 630-964-9392.



  • Visitation Thursday, January 10, 2013
  • Visitation Friday, January 11, 2013
  • Funeral Service Friday, January 11, 2013


  • Interment

Helen E. Palmer Clayton

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Baby Helen with her Dad holding her in the background


Helen as a little girl


The cute little girl became a beautiful young woman


Helen with her brothers, John and George


Helen in Florida on her honeymoon


Helen with brothers Pete, Jim, John, and George


Mom with Jim and Denise