Helen ArnnEarlier this month, we said goodbye to our beloved Wife, Mother, Grandmother, and Friend, Helen Pitts Arnn. She was a remarkable woman full of wit, love, and curiosity. The world feels smaller without her to share it.

Helen Marie Pitts was born late in November 1930 in Pea Ridge, Arkansas to Phebe Buttram Pitts and Charles “Choc” Calvin Pitts. The youngest of nine, and finally a girl! Little Helen was showered with adoration by her eight older brothers—Stanwix, Felix, Charles, Robert, Joe, David, Hugh and Sam. The admiration was mutual; Helen spent most summers as a girl visiting her brothers and their burgeoning families. She cherished her role as sister-in-law to Ethel, Mary, Geraldine, Yolanda, Katy, Helen, Mary Alice, Ada, Lelah, and Aunt to over forty nieces and nephews. Helen attended the Garfield, Arkansas schools where she prospered and was eventually awarded a statewide 4-H scholarship to college. Her diligence and success was unsurprising to her brothers who knew her curiosity would take her far. While Hugh Pitts served aboard the USS Tallulah in the Pacific, he wrote to his father, “I know Helen will [finish], she likes school anyway!” (October, 1944).

Helen attended University of Arkansas. While a freshman there, one of her housemates at the 4-H house introduced Helen to Edgar Arnn. Edgar was a tall engineering student from Sidney, Arkansas. Helen and Edgar were married the following November 1949 in Ozark. Edgar began his engineering career focusing upon rural electrification and Helen and Edgar started a family. Over the next twenty years they would live in Sidney, Arkansas; Fayetteville, Arkansas; Little Rock, Arkansas; El Paso,Texas; Thompson, Iowa; Columbia City, Indiana; and Orleans, Indiana. They raised four children: Sammye, Janell, Bruce, and Sarah. Once the children were in school, Helen finished her undergraduate studies at University of Arkansas and completed a Masters degree at Indiana University in 1967. She taught sixth grade math in Paoli, Indiana.

In 1973, with two children in college, Helen and Edgar were ready for a new adventure and Edgar accepted a position with USAID Rural Electrification division in the Philippines. Edgar criss-crossed the country promoting locally run electrical co-ops and developing the tools for them to operate effectively.  Helen stayed closer to their home in Manila where she was heavily involved in the Girl Scouts of America, US Women’s League, and the Union Church of Manila. Her volunteer activities with the Girl Scouts culminated in organizing and leading the annual memorial of the Bataan death march where she hiked parts of the route with scouts, leaders and veterans from 56 countries. While living in Manila, Helen led the family in exploring the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Thailand, and Hong Kong. Edgar reminisced, “It feels like she had this rich life, visiting and talking to everybody, helping out with this or that—she enjoyed learning how things worked … Loved all the people and getting involved. I talked to a lot of people, but that was just because it was my job.”

In 1978, Edgar and Helen returned to the states—now settling in Geneseo, Illinois. Helen’s hearing fading, she began working for a newspaper recruiting and managing the paper routes and their carriers, middle-school and high-school kids. Helen enjoyed helping her young news delivers to become responsible teenagers. In Geneseo, Helen and Edgar began caring for Edgar’s aging aunt, Clara Weaver, who was suffering from dementia. Ms. Weaver would live with the Arnn’s until her death in 1993.

By 1986, Helen decided it was time for Edgar to retire so she could be nearer her daughters and grandchildren. So he retired and they upped stakes again, this time to Indianapolis. Helen and Edgar took an active role in the daily lives of their grandchildren, chauffeuring the kids and their friends, attending school plays and hosting Sunday dinners and birthday parties. Through the years, their home continued to be the hub for our family, most remarkably for the annual meeting on Christmas Eve.

Helen started a business selling antiques and handicrafts—she had Edgar working tirelessly for years setting up antique booths in the malls around town and at antique shows and flea markets across the state. Eventually, she began to sell her wares on eBay—the beginning of her cyber era. A very early bookseller online, her IndyBookLady business flourished and her inventory grew to include over 20,000 volumes. A love of books, technological advancements that allowed her to easily communicate in writing, and an industrious packing assistant—her husband, Edgar—made for a busy, but rewarding retirement. Being hard of hearing posed no problem to working and making friends online—it offered her the opportunity to again enrich her life and expand her horizons far beyond those within shouting distance.

Helen shared a deep and continued interest in the history of Garfield and Pea Ridge, Arkansas; she served as a founding member of the Pea Ridge Historical society and continued the work of her dear mother, Phebe Buttram Pitts and her older brother Joe Pitts to investigate and share the history of her family. Helen facilitated the publishing and reprinting of several oral histories of the area and its inhabitants, focusing especially on the development of the schools. She shared these stores in print on the North Arkansas Gazette, online, and with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

She is survived by her dear husband, Edgar Arnn and three daughters, Sammye Arnn Broline, Janell Arnn Watson, and Sarah Pickle all of Indianapolis, Indiana as well as her son,  Edgar Bruce Arnn of House Springs, Missouri. She will be missed by her seven grandchildren—Hamilton, Harriet, Emily, Allison, Kara, Lauren, Matthew as well as her eight great-grandchildren: Malley, Karma, Presley, Hart, Edgar, Bolt, Jack, and Ender.

Helen’s life will be remembered and celebrated by the countless friends and family members that she loved so well.  Earlier this month, we said goodbye to our beloved Wife, Mother, Grandmother, and Friend, Helen Pitts Arnn. She was a remarkable woman full of wit, love, and curiosity. The world feels smaller without her to share it.

Helen Marie Pitts was born late in November 1930 in Pea Ridge, Arkansas to Phebe Buttram Pitts and Charles “Choc” Calvin Pitts. The youngest of nine, and finally a girl! Little Helen was showered with adoration by her eight older brothers—Stanwix, Felix, Charles, Robert, Joe, David, Hugh and Sam. The admiration was mutual; Helen spent most summers as a girl visiting her brothers and their burgeoning families. She cherished her role as sister-in-law to Ethel, Mary, Geraldine, Yolanda, Katy, Helen, Mary Alice, Ada, Lelah, and Aunt to over forty nieces and nephews. Helen attended the Garfield, Arkansas schools where she prospered and was eventually awarded a statewide 4-H scholarship to college. Her diligence and success was unsurprising to her brothers who knew her curiosity would take her far. While Hugh Pitts served aboard the USS Talluhlah in the Pacific, he wrote to his father, “I know Helen will [finish], she likes school anyway!” (October, 1944).

Helen attended University of Arkansas. While a freshman there, one of her housemates at the 4-H house introduced Helen to Edgar Arnn. Edgar was a tall engineering student from Sidney, Arkansas. Helen and Edgar were married the following November 1949 in Ozark. Edgar began his engineering career focusing upon rural electrification and Helen and Edgar started a family. Over the next twenty years they would live in Sidney, Arkansas; Fayetteville, Arkansas; Little Rock, Arkansas; El Paso,Texas; Thompson, Iowa; Columbia City, Indiana; and Orleans, Indiana. They raised four children: Sammye, Janell, Bruce, and Sarah. Once the children were in school, Helen finished her undergraduate studies at University of Arkansas and completed a Masters degree at Indiana University in 1967. She taught sixth grade math in Paoli, Indiana.

In 1973, with two children in college, Helen and Edgar were ready for a new adventure and Edgar accepted a position with USAID Rural Electrification division in the Philippines. Edgar criss-crossed the country promoting locally run electrical co-ops and developing the tools for them to operate effectively.  Helen stayed closer to their home in Manilla where she was heavily involved in the Girl Scouts of America, US Women’s League, and the Union Church of Manilla. Her volunteer activities with the Girl Scouts culminated in organizing and leading the annual memorial of the Bataan death march where she hiked parts of the route with scouts, leaders and veterans from 56 countries. While living in Manilla, Helen led the family in exploring the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Thailand, and Hong Kong. Edgar reminisced, “It feels like she had this rich life, visiting and talking to everybody, helping out with this or that—she enjoyed learning how things worked … Loved all the people and getting involved. I talked to a lot of people, but that was just because it was my job.”

In 1978, Edgar and Helen returned to the states—now settling in Geneseo, Illinois. Helen’s hearing fading, she began working for a newspaper recruiting and managing the paper routes and their carriers, middle-school and high-school kids. Helen enjoyed helping her young news delivers to become responsible teenagers. In Geneseo, Helen and Edgar began caring for Edgar’s aging aunt, Clara Weaver, who was suffering from dementia. Ms. Weaver would live with the Arnn’s until her death in 1993.

By 1986, Helen decided it was time for Edgar to retire so she could be nearer her daughters and grandchildren. So he retired and they upped stakes again, this time to Indianapolis. Helen and Edgar took an active role in the daily lives of their grandchildren, chauffeuring the kids and their friends, attending school plays and hosting Sunday dinners and birthday parties. Through the years, their home continued to be the hub for our family, most remarkably for the annual meeting on Christmas Eve.

Helen started a business selling antiques and handicrafts—she had Edgar working tirelessly for years setting up antique booths in the malls around town and at antique shows and flea markets across the state. Eventually, she began to sell her wares on eBay—the beginning of her cyber era. A very early bookseller online, her IndyBookLady business flourished and her inventory grew to include over 20,000 volumes. A love of books, technological advancements that allowed her to easily communicate in writing, and an industrious packing assistant—her husband, Edgar—made for a busy, but rewarding retirement. Being hard of hearing posed no problem to working and making friends online—it offered her the opportunity to again enrich her life and expand her horizons far beyond those within shouting distance.

Helen shared a deep and continued interest in the history of Garfield and Pea Ridge, Arkansas; she served as a founding member of the Pea Ridge Historical society and continued the work of her dear mother, Phebe Buttram Pitts and her older brother Joe Pitts to investigate and share the history of her family. Helen facilitated the publishing and reprinting of several oral histories of the area and its inhabitants, focusing especially on the development of the schools. She shared these stores in print on the North Arkansas Gazette, online, and with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

She is survived by her dear husband, Edgar Arnn and three daughters, Sammye Arnn Broline, Janell Arnn Watson, and Sarah Pickle all of Indianapolis, Indiana as well as her son,  Edgar Bruce Arnn of De Soto, Missouri. She will be missed by her seven grandchildren—Hamilton, Harriet, Emily, Allison, Kara, Lauren, Matthew as well as her eight great-grandchildren: Malley, Karma, Presley, Hart, Edgar, Bolt, Jack, and Ender.

Helen’s life will be remembered and celebrated by the countless friends and family members that she loved so well.