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Giving Testimonial

Loyal Volunteer Was A Blessing to EdenHill Communities

She would probably dismiss the compliment, but everyone at EdenHill Communities considered Cleora Brotze our first lady! One of the longest-serving volunteers, she and her beloved husband Elmer, who passed away in 2005, began their volunteer journey at what was then called Eden Home for the Aged at its original location on the south side of San Antonio.

They traveled each week from their farm near Converse to their spiritual home at Community United Church of Christ, where they joined many others to serve the Eden residents. In 1956, Elmer even drove the truck that transported the original stained glass windows when Eden relocated to its present campus in New Braunfels.

Elmer Brotze served as president of the board of directors from 1976 to 1985, at a pivotal time in the life of Eden Home. Always dedicated to the mission and ministry of Eden, he and Cleora quietly made significant gifts during some very challenging times in our history, including funding the first sidewalks on this campus. She continued to support EdenHill Communities throughout her life.

Every day, she exemplified grace and lived the tenets of her faith through love of family, friends and service to others.

Surprise Gift From a Special Woman Who Loved Christmas

EdenHill recently received an early Christmas present from Lucile Evelyn Trabue Helland, an extraordinary woman who was a blessing to everyone who knew her. She was a lifelong member of Bethany Congregational Church, the founding congregation that established the Protestant Evangelical Home for the Aged in 1910 - now EdenHill Communities- on South Presa Street in San Antonio. Miss Helland’s life was intertwined with this church and with Eden in ways no one realized until her bequest was made public after her death.

Lucile was born on December 7, 1918, and her mother died a few days later. Her father was unable to care for his infant daughter, so she was sent to live with his parents, Hans and Marie Helland, and their daughter, her Aunt Marie ("Tante Mausi"). Mother Helland had grown up in Dresden, Germany and met her Norwegian husband when he came to study engineering at the Polytechnic Institute there and boarded with her family. They married in 1885, and he brought her to Texas where he had been living and working for a few years. Though her father eventually remarried, Lucile stayed with Mother and Father Helland and Aunt Marie. Her father passed away when she was 12.

One of the great family traditions was Christmas, and Lucile loved everything about this blessed holiday season throughout her life. Lucile and Tante Mausi would begin decorating the tree a couple of weeks before Christmas, taking much care in the placement of each delicate ornament on a tree that would be enjoyed through January. Her cousin, Linda Bowsher, recalls that after Lucile's death she found ten numbered boxes full of Christmas decorations and ornaments - many lovingly made by her grandfather and dating back to the late 1800s when the Hellands arrived in Texas. Linda remembers childhood celebrations on Christmas Eve, with the entire family gathered at the Helland house on McCullough Avenue, as the doors of the living room were opened for everyone to admire the beautiful Christmas tree. Originally, the tree was lit with candles - adult males stood at attention with buckets of sand in case of fire - though in later years they were replaced with electric lights. Tante Mausi would play the piano as the family sang Stille Nacht and O Tannenbaum in German.

Lucile attended Trinity University and The University of Texas. She worked at Stowers Furniture and later taught second grade at Travis Elementary School, assuming her own teacher’s position after she retired. She helped care for her grandmother as she aged and later cared for her Aunt Marie until her death from Parkinson's. Though she never married, she loved children and was a Sunday school teacher at Bethany for many years. She took great pleasure and interest in her church’s history and enjoyed arranging new displays for the memory cabinet in the narthex. Each Christmas, she helped to plan Bethany’s German Weihnachtsfeier celebration, a traditional candlelight Christmas service.

Although she contributed small gifts to EdenHill throughout her life and was aware of Bethany's historical connection to EdenHill, her almost $150,000 bequest for benevolent care was a complete surprise. It is indeed a privilege to honor Lucile Helland whose legacy of kindness and dedication to her family, friends, church, and those less fortunate, will always be remembered.


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