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Northeast Oklahoma Mourns Loss


An advocate for northeast Oklahoma communities and residents will be missed by many


O


ur cooperative fam- ily was saddened by the recent passing of


Earnestine Helmick. “Ernie,” as she was known to all, passed away July 20 at St. Francis Hos- pital in Tulsa, following a brief battle with cancer. Ernie joined our cooperative


family 14 years ago—on January 4, 1999. She was truly an asset in helping the organization maintain strong relation- ships with key accounts and Indian tribes in her role of marketing specialist. She performed many duties during her tenure, including handling youth programs for several years, writing articles for the Northeast Connection, and delivering safety presentations. Ernie retired from her duties at the cooperative on


January 2, 2013. She received a send-off that day from her fellow public relations department co-workers. T e recep- tion saw many visitors wish her well on her last day here at the co-op. Ernie and husband Delmar, himself a recent retiree,


had recently sold their Aſt on farm and relocated to Grove. “Ernie never had a bad day,” remarked Cindy Hefner,


Manager of Public Relations for the cooperative. “She was a wonderful mentor to all of us and was a very caring and private person. We can only assume that she did not want us to be concerned or burdened, thus perhaps the reason we did not know of her illness. We will miss her so.” Earnestine was born July 12, 1942, in Vinita, the


daughter of Wallace Johnson and Desma (Clarkson) John- son. She married Delmar Raymor Helmick on September 18, 1960, in Aſt on. T ey celebrated their 50 years of mar- riage in 2010. Earnestine began her career at B.F. Goodrich. Aſt er


the plant closed, she managed the Occupational Training Authority (OOTA) in Miami. She later worked at NEO Federal Credit Union in Miami and KAMO Power in Vinita before her arrival here at the cooperative. Earnestine is survived by her husband Delmar


Helmick, of the home and a son Mark Cary Helmick of Grove. She is also survived by her mother Desma Johnson of Aſt on; two sisters, Shirley Matlock of Aſt on, and Raylene Lowry of Pinehurst, North Carolina; one nephew, Chris Matlock of Broken Arrow; and two nieces, Lea Ann Mat- lock of Fairland and Angela Robbins of Salisbury, North Carolina. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ernie’s family during this diffi cult time.


10 - Northeast Connection Following are memories of Ernie shared by some of


her friends here at the cooperative: Sheila Allgood: I recall as a little girl, Earnestine was


my Sunday school teacher and I thought she was so beauti- ful and kind. As I got older and had the privilege of working with her here at REC, my respect for her and my amaze- ment of her kindness and beauty, both inside and out, only grew. I loved Ernie and will miss her. Barbara McCoy: I met Ernie in the late 90s when I


took an Excel class at the Aſt on Vo-Tech, where I was her student. She was friendly, very knowledgeable and we struck up a friendship that has remained steady over the years. She was always the same each time I saw her: in an upbeat, positive mood and sweet! I will miss her. Becky Highsmith: Ernie was what I would call a rare


gem. She was always polished and shining like a beautiful gem stone. She was never dull! She could brighten a room with her smile, laughter and good sense of humor. Once a friend always a friend! And Ernie had many friends! We will miss you, Ernie, but we will meet again! Susanne Frost: I do want to say that Ernie was the


best. We went to Grand Lake Chamber meetings together of late. If I couldn’t go, she would go and if we could, we would go together. She always understood and worked with me. People at the meetings and in many circles knew her and respected her so much. She was so gracious and kind. She was always willing to help with anything and I knew I could call Ernie at any time and she would be there for me. Going to miss her so much! She was a gem! Clint Branham: A few things I know about Ernie...


she would have hated that I put her picture in the Northeast Connection. And she would also have hated that her birth date was in the newsletter. She was private that way. We talked oſt en and she loved talking about the beach. One of her favorite places in the world was Destin, Florida, with its white sand and blue water. She kept a picture at her desk and I know she could transport herself to the beach with a quick glance over at that picture. I could tell she didn’t always feel well and was tired a lot toward the end of her tenure, but she fought through and fi nished the year. She was ready to retire and looking forward to reading, traveling and following her son Mark’s musical career more closely. She was his biggest fan. She was also unabashed about her love of sweets, but didn’t mind sharing. She would always have some little something to give to my daughters when they visited the cooperative. I’ll miss Ernie and I still can’t believe she’s gone.


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