CHAFFEE, Mo. -- Helen Hilton, 77, of Dillon, Mont., formerly of Chaffee, was a caring wife, mother and friend, who passed away Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, at Barrett Memorial Hospital, with her husband by her side.
She was born in Piggott, Ark., Jan. 6, 1935, to Fred and Hazel Thornton. She had lived in Dillon since 1974.
Helen's main love was her family and this is her legacy. She met her first husband, Ronald Christianson, as employees at Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park. They were married in 1957 in Chaffee and had four children, Erik (Pam) Christianson, Kyle (Sandra) Christianson, Lee (Holly) Christianson and Amy Christianson (Jorge) Navarro.
After losing Ron in 1984, Helen found the second love of her life and married Gregg Hilton Feb. 17, 1990. She became the stepmother to Grant (Fern) Hilton and Valerie Mead.
Helen received a teaching degree in home economics from Southeast Missouri State University in 1956. She was a teacher in the Dillon School System from 1976 to 1992. She also taught in East St. Louis, Corvallis and Missoula. She had many fond memories of the students lives she touched over many years.
Helen also loved to travel with Gregg and her family. Their adventures included South America, Australia, Africa, Europe and Asia. There was not a part of this world they didn't leave unexplored. She shared her love of traveling with all her family and was known for including grandchildren in her adventures. Her most recent adventure was with her husband, four children and spouses, and 11 grandchildren sailing in the San Juan Islands on a schooner for six days and nights.
Helen was a dedicated member of the community, active member of Grace United Methodist Church, Kiwanis, PEO AD, B.U.G. Program book club, and loved playing bridge anywhere she could get a group together.
She is survived by her husband, Gregg; four children and two stepchildren and their spouses; 14 grandchildren, Vanessa (Joel) Perez, Brittany Hilton, Garrett Hilton, Kienan (Travis) Christianson, Dylan and Jens Christianson, Dakota, Jasmine, Charlie, Nathan and Katie Christianson, Ronnie, Nicolas and Amanda Navarro; a brother, Fred (Lynn) Thornton Jr. and children Jennifer (Steve) Graves, Heather (Temple) Estopinal, Fred (Nan) Thornton III, Chris (Shilpa) Thornton and their families; late sister Janice's children, Joe Perry (Karen) Rice III, Howell (Kathy) Rice and Julie (Dan) Fels and their families. She has many more family and friends who love her dearly.
A celebration of Helen's life was held Nov. 6 at Grace United Methodist Church in Dillon. A graveside service followed at Mountain View Cemetery in Dillon.
Friends and family then gathered for a potluck reception at the Elks Lodge in Dillon.