Cary News: Obituaries

Helen Bell Leverton

Nearly a century ago, Helen Bell was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the daughter of Mattie Mae Kimbrough and Walter Bell. As her father developed a successful pharmacy in Atlanta, she went to the top of her high school class at the Washington Seminary in 1935. She attended Hollins College and was class president in her first year. Her life changed forever when she became a bridesmaid in her cousin Suzie’s wedding and met one of the wedding groomsmen, Joseph Wilson Leverton, a shipmate of Muddy Waters, the groom. Bill Leverton swept her off her feet with his humor and persistent correspondence from far away. They were married in 1938 and she embarked on a married life that led to four daughters, dozens of homes to be established and left behind due to Naval orders as Bill’s career soared. As a Navy wife, she managed on her own during the many tours of sea duty that took Bill away from her. The most dramatic parting was on December 7, 1941 when Bill had to leave her with two twin babies in Honolulu as he took his ship out under fire during the bombing. After many tense months, with Bill off to fight the war, she and the babies returned to the states via a convoy zig zagging across the Pacific Ocean.Bill Leverton became a Rear Admiral with Helen at his side, ever the supportive wife, entertaining shipmates and colleagues, providing moral support to others without her capacity for acceptance and flexibility! They spent years in the Washington area when Bill had Pentagon duty; other assignments led them to Newport, RI, Norfolk, VA, and Yokosuka, Japan. When a major heart attack cut short Bill’s career, they eventually settled in Whispering Pines, NC, on the edge of a golf course. But Helen never “retired”. She served on the Board s of Southern Pines Methodist Church and the Moore County Historical Association. She was active in historical preservation efforts in her region. With her burgeoning interest – and expertise – in genealogy, she founded and served for many years as President of the Moore County Genealogical Society. Eventually, she put together several books tracing ancestors and activities on both sides of her family. She lost her beloved husband in 1987, and ultimately relocated to the Glenaire retirement community in Cary, North Carolina. There she plunged wholeheartedly into the life of that community, serving as President of the Residents Association, and working with devotion and energy on committees for the library, archives, and “clan-diggers”. She found time for many adventures in travel in these years – to Europe, China, and Canada and of course visits to her far flung family members who always treasured their time with her. Very late in life she spearheaded an effort to create a video history of Glenaire, and took on the role of interviewer. In fact, during the 65th anniversary year of Pearl Harbor Day, when she was in her own 90th year, she made numerous presentations around the state about the meaning of that day and her experiences as a survivor. Following up on this, she initiated a video interview project with veterans at her Glenaire retirement community to document their service for posterity.Throughout her life, her optimism, loving spirit and acceptance of humanity were an inspiration to all who knew her. She was the embodiment of loving kindness, intelligence and curiosity, and the warmth of her personality drew people to her. She taught us by example of love, generosity and grace. Her relatives called her a force of nature. And she just laughed.She is survived by her four daughters: Joan Covell (Captain Michael Covell) of Flat Rock, NC; Joyce Mauney (Harold Mauney) of Delray Beach, FL; Kim Cavendish (Daryl Cavendish - deceased) of Boca Raton, FL; and Debi Willis (William Willis) of Cary, NC. She was the much beloved grandmother of Sharon Hayes, James Lees, Lee Mauney, Sandra Vasquez, Kimbrough Mauney, Lauren Maher, Robin Willis and Leslie Ann Willis. She was great-grandmother to 10 more, who know that “great” is not just another word.Memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church of Cary, NC; the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, FL; or to the Girl Scouts-NC Coastal Pines Council.An announcement of the date of her interment at Arlington National Cemetery will follow. <a href="" target="_new"></a>