Helene F. Blair, 86, passed away in Fleming Island on February 14. She was born in Worms, Germany on January 17, 1934 to Viktor and Katharina Schader Radl.
Helene was a sickly child, but she was a fighter. Once she was so ill doctors thought she would die and moved her to a special room. The boy in the next bed died. Her father removed Helene from the hospital because he thought she would do better at home which led to her recovery.
During World War II, she survived multiple bombings and her house burning down. She also lost her father while he was serving in the Afrika Corp with Rommel. During and after World War II, food was scarce and many days Helene went hungry.
On July 24, 1959 she married the love of her life, William. She moved multiple times while William was in the U.S. Army including to Germany and Austria. When he retired from the Army, they moved to Terre Haute, Indiana. They traveled throughout the United States in a RV and in 18 wheelers since William and her son Frank became long haul truckers. They finally settled in Jacksonville, Florida. William was diagnosed with cancer, so Helene took care of him until he decided to get end of life care at the military hospital. Helene lived on the memory of his love for 19 years.
Helene loved animals and changed her husband from an animal hater to an animal lover. Her husband brought a baby deer home who had lost her mother. The people who gave him the deer had named her Bambi. Helene took care of Bambi and one day while she was going to feed her, a Military Policewoman stopped her for an expired post decal. The MP saw the big bottle in the back seat and asked what that was for. Helene said it was to feed her deer. Then the MP laughed and said “Oh you’re the deer lady. “. She let Helene go. Once the deer was old enough, Helene released her and would go back and check on Bambi. The last time she saw Bambi, she had a boyfriend, but she still remembered Helene.
Helene was musically gifted. She joined the Sweet Adeline’s and became a featured Soprano. She would sing songs in German and English including O Tannenbaum (O Christmas Tree), Silent Night and Edelweiss. She also taught herself how to play the harmonica and accordion.
In 2015, Helene broke her hip which led to her being diagnosed with dementia. She suffered multiple mini strokes. During the final years of Helene’s life her niece Hilda was her guardian.
Helene is mourned by her children Jon Blair and his wife Judi, Frank Blair and his wife Sarah, her grandchildren Franklin Blair, her great-grandchildren, Adriana and Allyssa Blair, her nieces Hilda Smith and her husband Raymond, Helene Lawrence, Andrea Schmidt and her husband Jurgen and Maria Annunziata, Viola Martin, her nephew Louis Lawrence II, her great-nephews Chris Davis, Marco and Sandro Schmidt. Helene is preceded in death by her husband Chief Warrant Officer William Blair, her parents, Viktor and Katharina Schader Radl.; as well as her sisters, Hildegard Lawrence and Inge Annunziata and her brothers-in-law SFC Louis Lawrence and Francesco Annunziata.
The funeral service and burial will be held at 1:30 pm on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 at the Jacksonville National Cemetery, 4083 Lannie Road, Jacksonville, Florida 32218. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Fraser Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to No More Homeless Pets, 6817 Norwood Ave., Jacksonville, FL 32208. For Viola Martin – Niece So sorry for your loss John and Frankie. Hilda thank you so much for taking care of your Aunt. Aunt Helene had a better life due to your care. February 23, 2020 Service Details Jacksonville National Cemetery 4083 Lannie Road Jacksonville, FL 32218
Wednesday, February 26, 2020