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Helen Lucille Evans Schley ’35

A picture of Helen Irwin Schley

Helen Irwin Schley ’35 in 2007, at play during an annual family event at the Oregon coast.

Helen Lucille Irwin Schley ’35, November 25, 2009, in Portland. Helen was 16 when she entered Reed, and earned a degree in art. She taught art and did drafting work for the Kaiser shipyard in Vancouver, Washington, during the war. After the war, she worked for the American Red Cross in Japan. In 1949, she took a linguistics course at UCLA that launched her on her “true” vocation-teaching English as a second language. For the next 14 years, she taught English to immigrants in Oakland, California, and in Portland. Helen studied linguistics at Lewis & Clark College, Oregon State University, and Portland State College, where she subsequently taught English to international students for 15 years. She also taught at Mt. Hood Community College and at Linfield College. She had a natural instinct for language and teaching, to which her students responded with joy and enthusiasm. From a public obituary, we learned that Helen cared deeply about civil rights and international justice and attended peace marches and vigils in her 80s. In her 90s, she studied Spanish at Portland Community College. “Reed influenced me, most importantly, by my personal appreciation of intellectual stimulation and activity. By intellectual, I mean, thinking of things and studying things, and thinking of opinions and having to support my opinions. Those are important things from Reed.” Helen's happy marriage to Robert C. Schley, which began in 1953, ended tragically with his early death in 1964. Survivors include their two daughters and her brother, Richard Irwin ’42. A second brother, Phillip R. Irwin ’40, also attended Reed.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2010

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