Obituaries » Helen Heard Etheridge

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Helen Heard Etheridge

June 15, 1932 - April 29, 2019

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Helen Heard Etheridge died peacefully on April 29, 2019 in Lynchburg, Virginia surrounded by family.

A native of Danville, Virginia, she was an independent, free spirit before the term was ever coined. Helen lost her father when she just 8 years old – and often spoke of the difficulties growing up during the Great Depression as an only child.

Her mother, Lila Coleman Heard, worked all during her daughter’s childhood – and Helen described herself as an early, latchkey kid, getting herself to-and-from school on her own.

While attending George Washington High School, she was admired for the dimples in her cheeks, her beautiful, red hair and her talent as an artist. As a senior, classmates voted her the wittiest girl on campus.

Following her graduation, she attended Mary Washington University in Fredericksburg, Virginia and studied art. During that time, she met Herbert Etheridge while on a beach trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. They married in 1952, settled back in Danville and had four children.

Helen later finished her art degree at Averett University and went on to teach at O.T. Bonner Middle School for some 20 years.

In 1988 she left, surprising her family and friends by joining the Peace Corps. Helen served for more than a year in Ghana, West Africa, as an art professor. The experience was a source of great pride for her – and enduring inspiration for her family.

She traveled extensively across five continents – and shared that zest of wanderlust with her children and grandchildren, who now live and work in six different countries around the world.

Helen moved from Danville to Lynchburg in 2012 and lived an active life there until her recent death.

She is survived by her children: Patricia Etheridge of Mexico City, Mexico, Tom Etheridge of San Francisco, Annie Etheridge of Marseille, France and Janet Etheridge Boddington of San Rafael, California.

She also leaves five grandchildren: Coleman Burke of Stockholm, Sweden, Willie Burke of San Anselmo, California, Max Boddington of San Rafael, California, Micah Etheridge Plott of Atlanta and Julia Rose Etheridge Plott of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

In addition, her beloved cousin, Betsy Deaton of Greensboro, North Carolina and her best friend of many years, David “Hutch” Hutcheson of Danville, Virginia.

A memorial service – followed by visitation – will be held Saturday, May 4 at 2 p.m. at Tharp Funeral Home, 220 Breezewood Drive Lynchburg, VA 24502 – (434) 237-9424

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory is assisting the family.

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