Mary Helen Simms was born prematurely on 30 November 1915 weighing only three pounds and could be held in the palm of a hand. In order to keep her alive, her bed was made in a shoebox and she was placed in the kitchen oven with its pilot light acting as an incubator.

As a young girl, Helen acquired the nickname of “Post Office” because she would go around the neighborhood telling stories about the neighbors to everyone up and down the street.

Helen married Walter Broleman on 19 August 1935 in Edwardsville, Illinois, and they raised three children. Helen and Walter raised two commodities on their eight acres at 3205 Yaeger: honey and Christmas trees.
Eight homes are now in the Broleman homestead on Yaeger Road.

Helen worked as a cosmetologist for many years at three locations: Gravois Beauty Shop, Honeycomb Beauty Shop, and His & Hers Salon.

Helen and Walter celebrated their thirty-fifth anniversary with family and friends at an anniversary luau with a roasted pig meal, a wedding cake, and a yard full of family and friends. Their fortieth anniversary was celebrated at the farm in August 1975. It was Walter’s brother, Jerome’s, first visit to the farm since Grandma gave it to Walter in the late 1940s. Seeing the property healed hard feelings and the brothers became friends. Helen and Walter’s last celebration was their forty-fifth anniversary in August 1980 at South Telegraph Christian Church where they renewed their vows and held a reception in the church’s meeting room.

Helen Broleman
Mary Helen (Simms) Broleman
Photo in the collection of Judy Broleman
Used with permission

Helen belonged to the Freedom Shrine #37 of Eastern Star and worked her way up the ladder to Worthy High Priestess around 1975.

During the summer of 1979, Helen and Walter were baptized into the South Telegraph Christian Church. She was a longtime and faithful member of Bible Study Fellowship. Helen and her granddaughter, Terri, became members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in the 1980s.

Aortic valve replacement because of valvular heart disease was scheduled at Barnes Hospital around October 1981. Helen went into a coma for about five weeks; finally, a specialist in lung disorders was assigned to her case. He addressed problems with her allergies and slowly brought her around. Helen did not return home until the latter part of 1982.

In 1988, she sold the 3205 Yaeger property and moved into a garden style condo at 302 Woodland Villas in Arnold, Missouri. The facility offered assisted living as well as skilled nursing care. She utilized all facets while having small strokes for thirteen weeks. On 2 December 1989, they sent her to St. Anthony’s Hospital where she was already in acute respiratory failure, which was the cause of her death later that night.

Helen’s wake was held at Fey Funeral Home, 4100 Lemay Ferry Road, and she was buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in north St. Louis.

Written by Judy Broleman
June 2020
© 2020, St. Louis Genealogical Society

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Last Modified: 04-Feb-2021 12:44