February 26, 1924 – June 20, 2013
Helen Elizabeth Wohler Murray, 89, passed away Thursday, June 20, 2013, in Portland, Oregon.
Helen was born February 26, 1924, in Portland, Oregon, to Benjamin O. and Maude G. Wohler. Her brother Benjamin O. “Junior” Wohler was 6 years her senior.
In 1930 Helen began her education at Rose City Park Elementary School. 1938 1942 she attended U.S, Grant High School. At Grant Helen found her affinity for English literature and music. She was a proud member of the Portland Junior Symphony.
During the months between H.S. graduation and college Helen enjoyed working for the Pacific Telephone Company as a long distance operator. Helen also found that being a very tall girl, 6’1”, could have advantages. She was asked to do some modeling for Meier & Frank.
Helen headed to college at the University of Oregon in 1942. Her hardworking, practical parents, whom she admired and respected greatly, wanted her to be a Business Administration major. She followed their wishes for her first year. The next year she followed her dreams,convincing her parents that although highly impractical and frivolous economically she wanted to study music and english literature. In her junior year she was elected to the honors program, and Helen was delighted and proud all her life that she was asked to become a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In 1946 she received her B.A. in English and graduated cum laude.
After graduation Helen was offered a teaching fellowship to the University of California at Berkeley, so in 1946 she headed south to San Francisco. And in 1947, as fate would have it, a very tall, handsome, athletic, kind, generous San Francisco Police Inspector fell madly in love with her and in 1948 Helen became Mrs. George D. Murray.
In 1952 Helen and George adopted their daughter Brenna and she brought them much happiness, laughter and adventure.
Helen had no intention of staying home and baking cookies, so in 1954 she went back to school at San Francisco State College and received her teaching credential in 1956 and her M.A. in Education and Counseling in 1966.
Helen began her career in Education with the San Francisco Unified School District in 1958. Her first assignment was teaching English and Music at Portola Junior High School. Standing at 6’5” in four inch heels she took no prisoners. She rose through the ranks and finished her tour as the Assistant Principal at Mission High School.
Helen’s beloved George became ill with cancer in 1980. She became his selfless caregiver until his death in 1984.
In 1996 Helen returned to Portland to be with her old friends and family. She loved spending time playing bridge and mah jong with the girls, working in her garden, playing with her cats and having Sunday breakfast with her brother Ben. In 1997 Helen somehow inveigled Brenna to leave New York and live in Portland so they could be closer. Brenna stayed at Helen’s bedside holding her hand until she passed away.
Helen is survived by her daughter Brenna Murray and her husband, James Griffin, her brother Ben Wohler, her nephews John Wohler and his wife Diane and son Anders, and Jeff Wohler and his wife Mary and daughter Kennedy.
Helen is predeceased by her parents, Ben and Maude Wohler, her husband George Murray, and her sister-in-law Mildred Wohler.
Helen will be buried at Lincoln Memorial Park next to her dear George, together again after 29 years. At Helen’s request there will be no service.
Helen’s family would like to thank the staff at Tiffany & O’shea for theirdedicated service, the wonderful caregivers at Expressions at Summerplace, her special angels Lisa Ness, Judy Lara and Judy Thayer and her devoted friends Richard and Margaret Swanson.
Helen’s favorite charity was the Humane Society, if you wish to make a donation in her name.
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June 30, 2013
The Oregon Humane Society is grateful for Helen's compassion for animals and support.
~ Oregon Humane Society
Staff of Young's Funeral Home
June 30, 2013
Offering our deepest condolences during this difficult time.