Posted by: rbbadger | October 15, 2012

Helen Broadbent

This past Saturday, an old friend of my family was laid to rest in my hometown of St. Johns, Arizona.  Helen Broadbent, who had been a neighbour of my parents for over 30 years, died at the age 87.  While she had suffered from ill health in recent months, her death does leave me with a sense of loss.  It is hard to imagine my hometown without her kind, warm presence.

Looking over the Facebook pages of friends, as well as a group established in honor of my hometown, I am struck by just how many people loved her.  She had a real talent for relating to people.  When you talked to her, she made you feel important.  You felt as if what you had to tell her was the most important thing in the world.  She was a truly generous soul.  I will always be grateful for that.

Of course, one can’t really write about her without writing about her husband, Jesse Broadbent.  She and her husband married in 1945.  They had seven children, only one of which I knew well.  By the time we moved to St. Johns, I think their youngest may have left home.  Like my parents and siblings, they were and are devout members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormons or sometimes as the LDS Church.  Generally, church positions in the LDS Church, apart from those held by the general church leadership in Salt Lake City are part time and unpaid.  My dad served as a bishop of his local congregation.  When my mother was a girl in the nearby town of Snowflake, Jesse Broadbent was her bishop.  Later, he would serve as stake patriarch.  Later on, they both served in the temple.  Their son, who continues to run the insurance agency in town, served recently as Stake President.  In the Mormon church, local congregations are called wards and are lead by a bishop and two counsellors.  A group of wards is called a stake.  The wards are overseen by a stake president.

While I think that many people will miss her, and I will miss her as well, I am also grateful for all she did.  I am grateful to have had them as neighbours.  When I was enduring the assured purgatory that was St. Johns Middle School, I was so grateful that she was working in the school then.  I had a terrible time getting along with my classmates.  In fact, I got along much better with my teachers, though I’m sure I managed to drive some of them crazy.  She always had time for the students and was always ready and willing to talk.

If the saying is true that it takes a village to raise a child, I remain grateful for people like her in my hometown who helped raise me.  May she rest in peace!



  1. I’m sad that she’s gone. I really wanted to go to her funeral. I loved how she made me feel so special and loved. I think that if I was half as loving and amazing as she was, I’d be pretty well off. I’m thankful that she was there for you too.
    Poor Joshua is wailing about going to school right now. Part of it is that his blood sugar is low and he’s tired, but he’s also had a hard time with this school. His class is rowdy and he doesn’t like homework or any sort of anything that makes him feel uncomfortable. I think he’s having fun yelling about how horrible school is because he’s being very creative and funny in his descriptions, but I know it’s hard for him too. I know I’m thankful for anybody who makes it better for him. Thank heavens for angels in our lives!

  2. Thanks for writing this Robert! Helen really was an angel and so full of love for everybody! I’m so grateful that she was there for you in Jr High. She is leaving a huge empty place here…

  3. Thanks for this Robert. My mother thought so highly of you and was touched by your care for her in return. We kids always said she was so angelic. Her version of yelling at us as kids was pretty dang mild. A truly loving mother and woman. I always knew my mother was loved, but after she passed and I was there with my dad in the weeks immediately following I caught a small glimpse of how very much she loved and was loved as people shared their stories with me. Thank you again for your lovely post.

    • You’re most welcome. Your mother was indeed a truly beloved person in St. Johns. It’s hard to think of the place without her. Thank you for writing!

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