Helen Keeling, 94, joined her husband Joe Keeling Sr. in heaven on May 4, 2023. Helen was born in 1928 to her loving parents, James and Eva Grayson, in Augusta, AR.
Helen was truly one of a kind. If you knew, her you loved her! She had an amazing smile and was always the happiest, brightest light in every room. Her friends, family, and neighbors will all miss the joyful wave she gave from her front window as we drove by her house.
Helen was just 9 years old when she lost her father, but she carried him in a special place in her heart for her entire life, regularly sharing stories of their time together fishing on the White River. Helen’s bright light and fun personality must have shone brightly when she attended Augusta High School as she was on both the newspaper and yearbook staff, manager of the boys’ basketball team, point guard of the girls’ basketball team, a member of the glee club, cast in multiple school plays, and was the Halloween Queen her senior year.
In Helen’s senior year at August High School, she met a young boy from St. Joe, Arkansas who as at the school teaching veterans. All the girls were crazy about him, but she didn’t think he was so special. He, on the other hand, was quite taken by her and managed to get her out on a date. That blond curly-haired boy was Joe Keeling Sr., and he clearly knew he’d found a one-of-a-kind woman as they eloped several months later. The happy couple started their family in St. Joe before moving to North Little Rock with their first two children, Joey and Melissa. Years later, after Helen was told she probably couldn’t have another baby, she was blessed with her miracle baby, Jim.
In 1965, with funds raised from the sale of land at Taylor’s Bay on the White River that her father left to her, Helen and Joe started Keeling Company, a regional irrigation distributor. Thanks to Helen and Joe’s natural business instincts, hard work, and foresight, Keeling Company now has 28 locations in 6 states, is family owned, and continues to be highly successful to this day.
In the last 10 years, Helen bounced back with relative ease from both a broken hip and an open-heart surgery; there is no one more resilient than Helen! Her positive attitude and her “where there’s a will, there’s a way” motto was a powerful combination. In the end it was the 1-2 punch of Covid-19 and pneumonia that finally got her at the age of 94.
Helen had a green thumb, enjoyed playing bridge, shopping at the farmers’ market, making bread and oatmeal raisin cookies for her grandchildren, bird watching, eating Mexico Chiquito cheese dip, traveling with Joe, walking around her neighborhood, and watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune every night with her daughter.
Helen is preceded in death by her parents, James and Eva; her siblings: Margie, Myrtle, J.E. “Sonny,” and Guy; and her husband of 63 years, Joe Keeling Sr.
Helen is survived by her sister, Eula Mae Brown; three children: Joe Keeling Jr. (Vicky), Jim Keeling (Jenny), and Melissa Lorge (Frank); eleven grandchildren; and sixteen great grandchildren - all of North Little Rock, Sherwood, or Little Rock.