Ada Helen Byrd Millwood was born on Feb. 15, 1934 in Izard County, Arkansas, a few miles north of Melbourne. She met her Maker and Creator at home on Aug. 28, 2019. Helen was the daughter of Clarence Albert Byrd, a farmer and Alma Ethel Dowdle Byrd, a homemaker, the 5th of 7 children. She grew up with no TV, listening to music and stories on the radio. She attended a one room schoolhouse between the towns of Sage and Grid, Ark., where she walked to school.
She loved to tell how hard times were and one Christmas her present was a beautiful pair of black shoes which were her summer white shoes painted black. Her family was very close, and she grew up playing with cousins. Over the past years, she looked forward to attending the annual ‘cousin’ reunion.
On her 10th birthday, the family moved to Wayne Okla., where she lived until she graduated high school. She was active in 4-H and played on the basketball team. Helen called herself a country girl but had lots of friends and great memories of her junior high and high school days. She made a decision to follow Christ and was a member of the First Baptist Church. She loved attending high school reunions.
After graduating high school, Helen and two friends got an apartment in Oklahoma City where she attended Draughon’s Business School, learned shorthand and landed a job at Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. Those two friends Jean Greene and Rose Payne are still her good friends. It was the early 50’s and Helen loved to have a good time with her friends. They were ‘good girls’ who liked to stay out late. Helen met a sailor named Bill Millwood from Dumas, Ark., stationed at the Naval Base in Norman, Okla. They dined, wined and danced and within three months were married on July 3, 1954.
In 1955, Helen and Bill moved to Tulsa, Okla., where their first daughter Sherree was born and Bill worked for the Civil Aeronautics Association. In 1956 they moved to Monticello, Ark., for Bill to attend college on the GI Bill majoring in music and math. Their second daughter, Susie, was born on Christmas Eve, 1956. During this time, Helen worked as office manager for DuraCraft Boat Factory but quickly became secretary for the company President. Everywhere Helen lived she made good friends and her Monticello friends, the Bellotts and the Clouds were no exception. They had no money but always had a good time.
In 1959, Bill and Helen moved to Albuquerque, N.M., where her sister and brother-in-law lived, Bill selling cars and Helen working at a surgical supply company. After a short time in New Mexico, they learned of the band director’s job opening in Nashville, Ark. Bill was hired, and they headed back to Arkansas. Their third child, a son Mark, was born on June 17, 1960 at Howard Memorial Hospital. That year also marked getting their first color TV and Dalmatian puppy.
Hard to survive on a schoolteacher’s salary, Helen learned from Mary Jane Pope of a job opening and if interested to contact C.C. Corky Carlton where she was hired for the Carlton Advertising Agency.
Helen was employed by Corky for 59 years supporting multiple businesses including Carlton Construction Company. Corky has been a dear family friend. He called Helen his best friend.
Helen was busy working full time and attending every event her kids and grandkids were involved during the 1970’s and 80’s. Highlights were band trips, football games and Junior Miss Pageants. Mark became a stand-out athlete and she was proud of only missing one football game his entire athletic career. She enjoyed watching her grandkids cheer, sing, play sports and bragged on how smart they all were.
Helen’s new adventure in the 1990s was traveling after she and Bill divorced. She has been on cruises with her granddaughters, a 21- day tour of Europe with friends, the Bahamas and Mexico. She traveled extensively in the United States attending abstract conventions with her dear friend Jean Greene. When Helen was 84 years old, she decided to take a 10-day walking tour of Spain where she didn’t make the tour bus the first day and spent the day alone roaming Madrid.
When Sherree moved to Nashville, TN in 2005, she loved visiting Nashville and having music city adventures.
From 1997-1999 Helen had an apartment in Oklahoma City where she enjoyed being close to her siblings and nieces and nephews. She was engaged to Ray Turner, a cattle farmer, who died of a heart attack in 1999. Helen suffered another great loss in her life.
In 1999 she met Donald Huffman, who has been her constant companion and fiance. They spent time in Alaska, Canada, Oklahoma City, and East Texas where they enjoyed gardening and canning. Donnie’s garden kept her young. She loved sharing her squash relish and salsa with the family. Donnie was at her side when she left this earth and he will miss her tremendously.
Helen was a faithful P.E.O. member of the AM Chapter and served as past president and other officer positions and through the years enjoyed attending conventions. She enjoyed listening to all kinds of music and loved to dance. She loved beautiful clothes and jewelry, Facebook and talking on the phone. She loved baking pies and cakes and enjoyed sharing them with lots of friends.
Helen’s faith was her anchor. She worked in the Primary Department with Marge Eley at First Baptist Church for 13 years, enjoyed attending her Sunday School class, always read her Bible and studied her lesson, attended summer home groups and Wednesday night prayer meeting.
She raised her kids in church and to love Jesus and when Sherree, Susie, Mark and families all landed back in Nashville, she cooked Sunday lunch where all the grandkids would gather and make childhood memories.
Helen’s family was her love especially her grandkids and great grandkids. Once her grandkids got married, she loved their spouses just like her own and her kindness and generosity had no limits. Her grandchildren and their spouses were precious to her Erin Smith Freeze and Zach, Kent Smith, Jason Telford and Miranda, Emily Telford Yamada and Ryan, Jenna Millwood Pope and Brian, Leah Millwood Pope and Jason and Melissa Millwood and Barrett Astin. She will be missed at Melissa and Barrett’s upcoming wedding. They all have their Mawmaw stories.
Getting to be a great-grandmother to Kinley, Kamryn and Kate Freeze, Drew and Addison Telford, Everett Yamada, and Mila, Maddex and Madilyn Pope was the highlight of the last 10 years.
She is survived by her sister Veda Helm of Albuquerque, New Mexico; daughter Sherree Telford and husband Dan of Nashville, TN; daughter Susie Smith and husband Russ, son Mark Millwood and wife Kim all of Nashville, AR, who all adored and loved her dearly. She is also survived by Donnie Huffman who has been by her side for the last 20 years. Everyone who knew Helen called her a friend.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to First Baptist Church, Operation Christmas Child, 415 N Main Street, Nashville, AR or P.E.O International, 3700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa.
Her life was beautifully lived and she beautifully loved.