Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

February 21, 2013

Helen Bass Lang Leonard


Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Funeral services for Helen Bass Lang Leonard, 91, will be held at 11 a.m. Sat., Feb. 23 in the Chapel of Rader Funeral Home of Longview with the Reverend David English officiating.  Burial will follow in Gossett’s Chapel Cemetery in Jacksonville.  

Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the funeral home.

Helen was born Jan. 26, 1922, in Cherokee County in the community of Enterprise, 3 miles North of Jack-sonville,  where she attended school through the ninth grade and then attended Jacksonville High School to graduate in 1939.

She continued her education by completing selected courses at Jacksonville Baptist College, Lon Morris College, Kilgore Junior College and LeTourneau University at Longview, Texas, but graduated from none of those schools.

Her public career was varied and mostly circumstantial. She began it as a maid, nanny and tutor to an 8-year-old, the son of a very kind couple, who lived and worked in Jacksonville.  They paid her $3 each week and allowed her to go home on the weekends to be with her family. They also permitted her to attend Jacksonville Baptist College in the afternoon from 1-3 p.m. She enrolled in a course that the U.S. government offered in shorthand and typing at a cost of $.50 cents a week rent on her typewriter.  

While taking the course in shorthand and typing at Jacksonville College, a classmate encouraged her to apply for employment at Nan Travis Hospital. She finished her course about the time the son’s school was out and the couple made other arrangements for his summer care.

She applied for a job at Nan Travis Hospital and was employed as a nurse’s aide, earning $1 per day and three meals. She shared a bedroom and bath with two sisters on the second floor of a private home across the street from the hospital.

She was overjoyed with her new found wealth, but more than that, she thought she had found the work that she wanted to pursue, becoming a registered nurse, but that goal was never attained.

After the attack of Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entered World War II, she applied and was accepted by Western Union to attend their training school in Springfield, Mo., to qualify as a telegraph operator. She was located in Lufkin while working with Western Union and earned $.33 cents per hour.

After qualifying by passing the civil service examination, her next employment was with the U.S. Navy Department in Washington D.C The office was located on the banks of the Potomac River in the old hospital building. She worked there from May through October of 1943.

Seeing the sights of the Capitol for a few weeks was fun, but then the “homesickness” for her mother and daddy and little brothers and sisters melted the “job freeze” of those days and she purchased a train ticket to Jacksonville.

   She worked a short while in Jacksonville for a laundry and insurance agency, and then found employment with The Productions and Marketing Adm., which was the federal agency in Rusk that handled the Farm Program of Cherokee County.  Her duty was to issue board approved certificates to the farmers for emergency gasoline, tires, etc.  Many things were rationed in those days, including meat and nylon hose.  All employees, were urged through payroll deduction to invest in war bonds, Series E.  rallies were held around the courthouse square for the sale of them with large patriotic crowds attending.  Those who had lost sons and fathers were honored.

Helen married Belton Robert (Joe) Lang in October, 1945, and they lived in Palestine,  eight months where she worked for Anderson County Tax Office issuing auto license and collection property taxes.  Her husband was employed by S. W. Bell Telephone Company in 1946 and they moved to Pittsburg, Texas for a short time; then to Mt. Pleasant for about eight months where she was re-employed by The Production and Marketing Adm.  Again his work with S.W. Bell moved them to Dallas in 1947 where she worked for General Electric until they were transferred to Longview in 1954 where she was employed with First Federal Savings & Loan (now Regions Bank). They were located at the time in the old hotel building on the corner of Fredonia and Cotton Streets (now the Education Building of First Baptist Church.)

Joe Lang died in July 1964 and she married Easton A. Leonard of Kilgore in 1971. He retired in 1972 from 40 plus years service with Atlantic Richfield Oil Company and she retired in 1974 after 20 years service with First Federal S&L. She and Easton had a happy marriage and spent a great deal of their time fishing and traveling with friends until his death in October 1987.

She was preceded in death by her parents and two brothers, Herman W. and Bobby Frank Bass and three sisters, Margie V. Osborne and Edna V. Cole and Billie Ann Janitscheck.

She is survived by sister Wanda June Bryan and husband, Jesse, of Trinidad, Texas, and brothers Jackie D. Bass and Paul M. Bass and wife Sheena, both of Houston.  

She is also survived by a brother-in-law, Mark Osborne, and sister-in-law, Juanita Brown Bass Osborne, of Texarkana,  and sister-in-law, Bethel Lang Vaughn, of Longview,  along with numerous nephews, nieces, cousins and friends.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Helen C. Leonard Endowment Fund For Education, Buckner Foundation, 600 N. Pearl St., Ste 2000, Dallas, Texas 75201.

A memorial guestbook may be signed at www.raderfh.com


Discussion