The long and wonderful life of Helen Sheehan came to a peaceful end Thursday, March 31, at her Waikiki home at Sans Souci at the age of 95. Born Helen Hess on January 21, 1916, in Oakland, California, Helen graduated from Stanford University with a degree in journalism, after which she embarked on a series of adventurous careers which took her around not only the country, but the world as well.
In the early 1940s, under the name of Jane Allen, Helen was ahead of her time as the first woman radio announcer in Hawai`i. A popular personality on radio station KGU, her daily morning women’s program featured news on fashion, food, beauty and current events, including interviews with well-known local and national celebrities.
In 1944, Helen traveled to Washington D. C. to assume the post of Publicity Coordinator for the Air Transport Assn., while taking an active part in a number of national women’s organizations including the National Association of Women Broadcasters, American Public Relations Association, and the California State Society.
After returning to California, Helen, as Public Relations Director for the Palace Hotel, arranged luncheons, banquets, and events large and small for San Francisco’s high society and famous personages passing through. The Bay City’s noted columnist, Herb Caen, frequently mentioned her in his column.
Helen’s next adventure was as Special Promotion and Convention Representative of the Haley Corporation of San Francisco and New York. In that capacity, she arranged for the 45-person entourage of San Francisco’s Mayor to London for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952.
In 1954, Helen gave up her career-woman status to marry Jack Sheehan of California, Regional Advertising Manager of National Geographic magazine, beginning a new adventure as wife and mother. After Jack’s death, she returned to Hawai`i in 1986 where she has remained a full-time resident. Over the years, she has been a generous donor to many philanthropic causes and the recipient of numerous awards for outstanding service in a variety of fields.
Helen is survived by her son, Mike, and grandchildren Ryan and Lauren of Bainbridge Island, Washington, and brother Louis, of Sacramento, California.
A celebration of her wonderful life will be held Monday, April 11, at
9:00 am at the Outrigger Canoe Club. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to Saint Francis Foundation, 2226 Liliha St., Suite 205, whose hospice home service provided commendable and compassionate care during her last months.