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Helen Marshall Harp
Escalon farmer
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Helen Marshall Harp, born in Lennox, California, on May 3, 1922, died quietly in Modesto, California, on Nov. 28, 2010. She was 88 years old. Helen was the only daughter of John and Flora Marshall, Scottish immigrants and the third of four siblings, Gordon Harley Marshall, Walter Bartlet Marshall, and John Robertson Marshall.  Helen was the widow of Theodore Parsons (Ted) Harp. Helen Marshall was a city girl who loved to skate on the sidewalks of Inglewood, California, and dance to the music of the big bands. She attended Jefferson Elementary School and Inglewood High School, graduating early from high school, at the age of 17.  

Helen and her family survived the Great Depression.  She worked temporarily at the May Company until she was old enough to be employed full time by Douglas Aircraft. She met her husband, at Douglas Aircraft in 1941 and they married on March 1, 1942.  Helen worked at Douglas Aircraft until 1942 when she became pregnant with their first child. She saw all three brothers and her husband leave to serve in the military during World War II. While her husband Ted served in the U.S. Navy, a second child was born in 1945. Helen said many “tearful good-byes” to her husband, not knowing where he might be stationed.  Luckily he remained in California, working on aircraft, until he was discharged in 1946.  

After the war, Helen was persuaded to sell their brand new home in Inglewood, leave all her own family and move to what she considered “the middle of nowhere” with her two young children. They bought a small farm with an old home on Wagner Road, Escalon, California, where they grew melons and later planted almonds. A city girl, she made many changes in lifestyle but with the help of family and new friends successfully adapted.  

Helen was always supportive of her children and their education.  She participated in Atlanta Elementary School fund-raising activities and taught Sunday school at the First Congregational Church of Ripon, California. A busy mother, she encouraged her children in their activities at Ripon High School, and even into their college years.   

 It had been difficult for Helen to exchange a brand new home in Inglewood for an old farmhouse.  When a ceiling in the old house finally gave way, Helen proudly designed and supervised the construction of a new home in 1955. Later she and her husband bought more land and planted almonds on Carrolton Road.

Not the usual farmer’s wife, she considered herself a businesswoman. Her father had been a businessman and she was proud that she did the accounting for their farming operation for many years. Years later, her husband looked at her in admiration, and remarked: “She saved me from myself.” Helen also worked in Ripon as a teller at the Bank of America for several years in the early 1960s.  She and her husband were longstanding members of the California Almond Growers Association and Helen was proud to receive a 50-year (lifetime) membership from the Ripon Chapter of the Grange.

Helen and Ted became pilots and members of the Flying Farmers. As an active member of the California Flying Farmers, Helen was honored as Woman of the Year in 2000.  Helen and Ted shared a love of travel. They flew across the United States, up to Canada and Alaska, and down to Mexico. They toured the Federal Parks and continued to participate in Flying Farmers’ activities by motor home. Helen and Ted also traveled to Hawaii, the Caribbean, South America and, finally, to Scotland to explore her heritage.

Helen loved the holidays, and especially looked forward to Thanksgiving because annually she took her family “south” to spend that holiday with her parents, three brothers and their families.  Helen remained close to her family throughout her life and passed on the love of family to her children and grandchildren.

Helen is survived by two of her brothers, Walter and John Marshall, and her children, Carol de Sá Campos and John Donovan Harp (Jack). She leaves behind many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and dear friends.

A private graveside service will be held for family at Park View Cemetery, French Camp Road, on Monday, Dec. 6, 2010 at 10 a.m.. The Memorial Service will begin at 11:30 a.m. at Ripon Congregational Church, 100 N. Acacia Street, Ripon, California. Remembrances may be made in her name to the First Congregational Church of Ripon, California.
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010