Helen Smiles McKey, 99, of El Toro, Texas, passed on to her rest and reward on Wednesday, February 22, 2023, at home with loved ones by her side.
She was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, to Ira and Pearl Jones. As the oldest of six children, she learned hard work and resposibility working on a farm. These lessons stuck with her; one of her favorite sayings was, "Where there's a will, there's a way." After graduating from La Ward High School, she was accepted into the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps at Methodist Hospital in Houston, where she earned her R.N.
Helen married John McKey on August 31, 1944, in Houston, while he was home on leave from the U.S. Navy. When he had to report back to duty, she traveled alone on a train bound for Seattle - without a job or place to stay yet settled - so that the two could be together whenever John came into port. She had the will, and she found a way. This kind of love and devotion to one another was characteristic of the 63 years they had together.
After John was discharged in 1946, the couple made their home in Yucca Heights, near Victoria, and later moved to Telferner, where they lived for 17 years and raised their four children. In May of 1964, Helen was named Public Heath Nurse of Jackson County, leading the family to move to El Toro, Texas, where she remained for the rest of her life. In recognition of her work, she received the Yellow Rose of Texas award from Governor Mark White.
After 21 years of diligent service, Helen retired from nursing. She stayed busy, though, learning to play the tenor guitar so she could join John in performing bluegrass music throughout the area; they were a celebrated staple at several nursing homes. Her new-found free time was also given over to family and friends, who she deeply loved. She and John hosted many domino parties, enjoying numerous games of 42. She enjoyed cooking for others, gardening, and working in her flower beds. Her five grandchildren loved to stay at her house. She later delighted in her six great-grandchildren.
Helen was also a longtime member of the Robinson Street church of Christ in Edna. She loved singing church songs and sharing her love of the Lord with her spiritual family. She was known for her kindness, wisdom, and encouragement to others. With a middle name like "Smiles," perhaps it isn't surprising that she was so good at bringing a smile to those she was around. It was certainly what she willed, and we have all been blessed by her determination to find a way.
Helen was preceded in death by her husband, John Covey McKey; her parents, Ira W. and Nola Pearl Goode Jones; her brothers, Cecil, Leroy, and Raymond Jones; her sister Mildred Tipton; and her granddaughter Kaitie Braddock
She is survived by her sister Frankie Gerhard and her husband Paul, of Edna, and her children - Nola McKey of Austin, Doyle McKey and his wife Martine of Montpellier, France, Becky Braddock and her husband Walter of West Columbia, and Laura McKey of El Toro.
She is also survived by four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren: Kris Braddock, his wife Courtney, and their daughters Maddie, Kat, and Emma of Willow Park; Erin Adams, her husband Matt, and their sons Emerson and Alexander of Pearland; Clay Eads, his wife Whitney, and their son Henry of Westerville, Ohio; and Jennifer McKey of Denver, Colorado, and her partner Leandro Lovisolo. The family also wishes to thank the caregivers from Senior Helpers and other caregivers who were attentive and tender in their time with Helen, as well as Hospice of South Texas, a much appreciated source of support and guidance as the end drew near.
Helen's funeral service will be held at Slavik Funeral Home Chapel, 209 N. Allen Street, in Edna, Texas, at 1:30 pm on Monday, February 27th, with burial to follow at Memory Gardens of Edna, 1300 N. Kleas Street. Visitation will be at the funeral home starting at 12:30 pm.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any charitable donations be made to the Alzheimer's Association (www.alz.org/)
Services have been entrusted to Russell Todish of Slavik Funeral Home, 209 N. Allen St. Edna, TX 77957, 361-782-2152.
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