Daughter of Joseph Patrick Lacey and Mary Josephine (“Daisy”) Sullivan, Helen was born in Oakland, California, and attended Ursuline Convent School in St. Helena and Holy Names High School in Oakland. On the death of her mother when Helen was 18, she abandoned plans for college in order to care for her father and two younger brothers. After they moved to the Mission district in San Francisco, Helen worked for several years as a typist for the Federal Housing Authority in San Francisco’s financial district. Through friends she met Robert Francis White, a graduate of Santa Clara University and an electrical engineer employed by PG&E. Bob and Helen married in August of 1940 at a ceremony performed by her uncle, Father Owen Lacey, at St. Leo’s Parish in Oakland. Later Bob enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and he, Helen and their daughter Joanne traveled to the East Coast as Bob worked on radar development. Helen loved exploring Boston and Washington, D.C., especially sitting in on sessions of Congress. In Washington, D.C., their son Robert Paul was born.
After the war, Bob and Helen returned to California, where he became a home builder working for a family firm, Lacey & White. Later, Bob established his own firm and built several single family homes in the Palo Alto area. Bob and Helen welcomed their third child, Mary Estelle, and built a family home on Garland Drive in Menlo Park, where two more children were born, Stephen Francis and Barbara Helen. Helen spent many years as a homemaker, volunteer for her children’s schools, clerk for the Stanford Alumni Association, and volunteer for Supervisor Jackie Speier. Later in life, Bob and Helen enjoyed several adventures as he worked for Bechtel. They lived in many places, including Lexington, KY, Houston, TX, Monroe MI, and Ft. McMurray, Alberta, Canada. In retirement, they settled in Redwood City for several years and then at the Commons in Los Gatos.
Through her long life of almost 108 years, Helen was known for her curiosity, her generosity and her positive approach to living. Whenever she and Bob settled in a new place, she eagerly read up on the history of the area and planned little trips so that they could learn all about their new home. In each place, Helen would also volunteer her talents, such as sorting items at Happy Dragon in Los Gatos, or pursue new hobbies, such as bowling in Monroe. She loved following politics and sports, and she voted in every election, even right before her death. She remained interested in life to the end and loved catching up with her children and their families. Her family is very grateful to all Helen’s caregivers, especially Twyla Stanley, Pulei Moa and Camilla Villalobos, who gave incredibly loving help and support during her last few years.
Helen was predeceased by her husband, her parents and brothers, Bob and Joe, her grandson, Michael White , and her son-in-law, Don Amyx. She is survived by her five children and their spouses (Joanne and Hugh, Paul and Diana, Mary, Steve and Eileen, and Barbara and Ron), as well as by 12 grandchildren and 16 great grands. A funeral mass will be held in her honor on Monday, December 5, at 11:00 a.m. at St. Mary’s of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Los Gatos. Contributions in her memory can be made to Happy Dragon Thrift Store in Los Gatos, now part of Pacific Clinics (send to 245 W. Main Street, Los Gatos 95030), or to a charity of your choice.