Bunch-Johnson Funeral Home

705 Davie Ave, Statesville, NC


Helen Kelley Simpler

October 5, 1925June 20, 2020

Helen Kelley Simpler passed away quietly in her sleep at her Lake Norman home on Saturday, June 20, 2020.

Born in 1925 in Philadelphia PA, Helen grew up in the Heckscherville “Irish Valley” in the anthracite coal region of northeastern Pennsylvania. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the Pennsylvania State University in 1947 and moved to Harrisburg where she began a long career with AT&T. On a business trip, she met the love of her life, Roland A. (Roy) Simpler, another AT&T employee. They married in 1963 and together moved to assignments in North Carolina, northern New Jersey, and New York City.

In 1974, Helen and Roy returned to North Carolina, built a home on Lake Norman, and found a close circle of friends and a life of boating, collective efforts on home projects, the power squadron, and supper clubs – and cherished memories that would bring Helen joy for the rest of her life.

After a long illness, Roy passed away in 1992 and Helen moved to Statesville. But when the opportunity arose in 2001, she moved back to the lake – into the same house that she and Roy had built on the lake 25 years earlier. There she was closer to old friends and found some new neighbors. As Helen grew older and vision problems arose, it was the kindness and generosity of her neighbors that helped her continue an active and fulfilling life. In her last year, she benefited from 24-hour assistance from patient and dedicated caregivers who made it possible for her to stay in her home. Her gratitude to those neighbors and caregivers was deep and abiding.

Helen was the daughter of Matthew Vincent Kelley and Kathryn (Maley) Kelley, descendants of Irish coal-mining immigrant families in the Heckscherville Valley. She is survived by stepson Ron Simpler (and wife Mary) of Clear Lake MN, nephew Jim Ryan (Jackie) of Gainesville VA, nephew Tom Ryan (Joanne) of Newark DE, two step-grandchildren, two step-great-grandchildren, two grandnieces, and a grandnephew.

A funeral mass will be celebrated at St. Phillip the Apostle Catholic Church in Statesville at 1 p.m. on Friday, June 26. Interment will be at Iredell Memorial Gardens immediately thereafter. Appropriate social distancing will be possible at both locations. A reception is planned for later in the summer in hopes of a return to near-normal times.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Metrolina Association for the Blind.

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the Bunch-Johnson Funeral Home in Statesville.


  • Funeral Mass

    Friday, June 26, 2020

  • Entombment

    Friday, June 26, 2020


Helen Kelley Simpler

have a memory or condolence to add?

Carolyn Horne

June 28, 2020

I am so sorry to learn of Helen's passing. I have been out of town on vacation. I worked with Helen at Statesville Auto Auction. She was a great person with a good sense of humor. She was a hard worker , strong in her beliefs, and was always honest with her friends. I was proud to call "Helen" my friend.

Ron and Mare Simpler

June 25, 2020

Helen has been a wonderful part of our lives. Even though we live in Minnesota our weekly phone calls have been filled with laughter, talk of the supportive friends and neighbors and the love shown to her from everyone which made the distance between us not that great. We are deeply grateful for all of her friends, neighbors, and organizations that have made her life full and meaningful. We would also like to thank Jim and Jackie for all the dedicated love, time and patience with keeping Mom happy and blessed to be in her home. Mom was a strong and independent woman and lived her life the way she wanted. We have all been blessed to know and be part of Mom's life.
Peace, Love and Thank you.
Ron and Mare