By Lauren Akin
For a freshman history project at Iberia R-5 School,
Published in the Miller County Autogram-Sentinel, June 1, 2006
A "Hero" is defined as a person admired for their qualities, achievements, or as a role model for others to follow. Ms Helen is a hometown hero because she holds all of these characteristics. She has lived a long life experiencing many ups and downs, but never wavered in her faith as a Christian.
Helen was born on April 24, 1916, just outside of Iberia, Missouri to William & Mary (Ponder) Spearman. She was the only girl of five children and is presently the only sibling still living. She was only 18 months older than her twin brothers, but was very good at taking care of them. For entertainment, they would play outside with sticks and tin cans. They did not have electricity to watch television or play Nintendo like we do today, but they always had a lot of enjoyment creating their own fun.
Ms. Helen completed school through the 8th grade and then enrolled at the Iberia Academy where she would further her education for three more years. In order to pay for tuition at the Academy, Helen would work at the "weaving cabin". She would weave rugs and mats and sell them to the St. Louis Congregational Church who was a supporter of the Academy. For additional money, she would catch butterflies and sell them to the professors at the school. In 1934, much to her father's dismay, she decided to marry Guy Flaugher in stead of continuing her education.
In 1936, Helen gave birth to the first of their five children. Tragically, ten years later her husband died of a heart attack leaving her a widow at the age of 38 with five young children. To help support her family, she went to work at the Watkins Store. During this time, she became acquainted with Herbert Livingston who was also a widower with three children of his own. One day Herbert told her that they should get married. She asked "Why?" and he said, "Because you need a man and I need a baby-sitter."
They married in 1947 and Helen gave birth to the first of their two daughters in 1952. Together, they now had a family of ten children. In 1990, after having been married for 43 years, Herbert passed away at the age of 91 years.
Even though Ms Helen has suffered the loss of two husbands and five of her ten children, she still maintains her love and enthusiasm for life, always with a beautiful smile on her face. She has always been a faithful Christian woman with a loving desire to help others, both young and old. Over the years, she has selflessly given of her time and energy to help as a Church and community volunteer. She has been involved as a Sunday school teacher, an assistant leader of 4-H and recently was helping at the Iberia Christian Youth Center until she suffered a back injury.
Last year for her 89th birthday, her daughters took her on a Caribbean Cruise to the Bahamas. She was catered to like a queen and had a blast! On Monday, April 24, 2006, Ms. Helen will turn 90 years old. To celebrate this tremendous milestone, her family threw what was supposed to be a "Surprise" 90th birthday party in her honor, but news travels fast in a small town. She has devoted her life to her wonderful family which has now grown to approximately 125 descendants.
So as you can see, Ms. Helen has lived a very full life thus far. She is my hometown hero because of the many qualities and achievements she has maintained through good times and bad. She has persevered through many losses in her life, and yet she has continued to hold strong to her faith in Jesus Christ. Her constant willingness to give of herself and her incredible enthusiasm to live life to the fullest, gives inspiration to all of us who know and love her. May God continue to bless you, Ms. Helen!!