Helen Louise Vance Hespel Ruppelt
August 27, 1923-February 4, 2019
Helen was born to Fred Sumner Vance, a salesman and Blanche Francis Fowler Vance, his wife, on the evening of August 27, 1923, at their home in Santa Ana California. She had two older brothers, Wendell and Wayne, a younger sister Barbara, and a younger brother Wallace. She grew up in Orange County in various homes while it was still a very rural community.
Sadly her mother passed away when Helen was only 11 years of age, and soon after she was sent to live with her maternal grandparents, as her father had a difficult time keeping the family together.
One fact that she was always very proud of was that her father’s brother was Charles Arthur “Dazzy” Vance. He was one of the great pitchers in 1920’s and 1930’s baseball and played the majority of his career for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955. Helen always said her earliest recollected memory of reading was when she would read the baseball scores to her “Pop.” She remained a dedicated Baseball fan all her life, including her beloved Padres whether they were winning or losing.
When she was 13 she moved in with Her Aunt Nell and her husband, and was overjoyed to be reunited with her sister Barbara who was already residing with them. The girls worked hard at school, helping their aunt with the household chores and they felt loved and secure.
At the age of 18, Helen met Joseph A. Hespel and they married in Las Vegas, Nevada, after only 6 weeks of dating. Joe and Helen drove back to his tiny hometown of Fennville, Michigan, where his father owned a peach tree farm. She spent her first and only winter in the snow there, and as WWII was escalating, Joe’s Dad sold the farm and the whole family moved back to the West Coast.
At that point, Joe joined the US Coast Guard and was stationed in San Diego. Housing was hard to find there at that time so Joe and Helen settled into a tiny 13 foot trailer and lived there until the end of the war. He was stationed in San Diego for his entire enlistment and planted most of the (now) huge eucalyptus trees at the Naval Training Center on Rosecrans Street.
At the end of the war, they had saved up enough money to purchase a small house in Pacific Beach on Missouri St. in 1945. Soon after, they had the opportunity to buy some lots across the street from their home which included the only barn remaining in PB. In 1946 they had their only son, Laurence (Larry) in 1950 they welcomed Marianne, and in 1954 Elaine was born to complete their family. Her favorite experience in life came from being a mother.
Helen was very involved in her children’s lives, she was a Cub Scout den mother, Blue Bird leader, and involved with the PTA. Helen even sewed many of their clothes. She was also a Sunday school teacher at Christ Lutheran where she joined the church to make sure her kids were brought up with the love of God. Her sister Barbara had moved down to San Diego, so all of their kids attended church activities together and celebrated all holidays with the two families.
Helen created a lifelong love of the ocean and the bay in her family as she and Barbara took them several times a week in the summer.
She got a part time job at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla 2 nights a week to help out financially, and in 1962 began working at the hospital full time in the accounting department. She retired after 35 years at Scripps.
She and Joe parted ways in 1975, and she enhanced her social life while continuing to enjoy her kids and now her grandkids.
In 1985 she met Ellis Ruppelt who was a retired Lt. Col in the US Air Force and they married in 1989. Sadly, Ellis died 2 years after their marriage, but Helen considered him the love of her life.
She moved to a home in Rancho Bernardo in 1991 where she stayed happily until she sold it and moved to the beautiful retirement community of Wesley Palms, once again in Pacific Beach where she spent her last five years, making new friends, going to Bible study, playing bingo, and as always, spending time with her beloved family.