Helen Biggs Draper, age 91, passed away on Saturday, April 15, 2023, at her son’s home in Round Rock, Texas, after a seven month decline from a worsening of chronic congestive heart failure. Helen was an 86 year resident of her hometown of Alice, Texas.
Helen was preceded in death by her husband of 64 years George Draper Jr. originally of Birmingham, Alabama, as well as daughter Valarie Draper Goldapp, and grandson Christopher Smith. Helen was the oldest surviving of the nine children of Alvah and Mattie Biggs, and is survived by younger sister Wanda Biggs Webb.
Helen is survived by children Chet Draper of Round Rock; Karen and husband Herb Gellis who lived in San Jose, California for many years but are now in Round Rock; Kay and husband Barry Smith and their children Krista and Kendra of Cedar Park; their eldest daughter Valarie’s husband Gerald Goldapp of Georgetown and their children Mark Goldapp of Austin and Julie Goldapp Lloyd of Virginia with their spouses Karen Goldapp and Paul Lloyd; and finally by Mark and Karen’s children Eleanora and Florence.
Helen was eight years old when her older siblings began to make a habit of bringing their spouses and children back home at Thanksgiving for a family reunion. That Thanksgiving reunion continues to this day for the descendants of the nine siblings, Ewell, Mattie Belle, Rowena, Jeffie, Alice, Kempe, Betty Lou, Helen, and Wanda. A 1970 clipping from the Street Scenes section of the Alice Echo newspaper mentions 96 people present at the Biggs family reunion that year.
Her childhood included learning to sew on her mother’s treadle sewing machine, and taking piano lessons on a piano manufactured in 1898. That piano now sits in the home of her youngest daughter Kay, although it was her eldest daughter Valarie who was the true pianist of the family. Helen’s enjoyment of sewing lasted a lifetime, extending to her becoming part of a prayer quilt ministry in her late eighties.
After graduating from Alice’s William Adams High School in 1948, Helen knew she would need to get a job, but she was shy and didn’t want to get a job as a telephone operator like three of her older sisters. She could type and she wanted an office job. Her father knew Mr. C. H. Holmgreen, the county clerk at the time, and that summer began a career that, with a few years off for kids, ultimately spanned 34 years of work with Jim Wells County.
In 1952, she met her soon to be husband George after he took a teaching job in Alice and joined her church, the First Baptist Church of Alice. Their church family would become an important part of both their lives, with Helen being a longtime member of the choir, Women on Mission, and serving as church librarian for many years.
Helen’s marriage to George produced four children and lasted a lifetime, until George passed in December of 2017. She occasionally reached back on those childhood piano lessons to accompany him at home as he practiced singing for a church solo or for someone’s wedding.
Her years as a working mother raising four kids didn’t leave a lot of time for extra activities, but Helen and George made time to be active members of their church. It wasn’t until her children were grown that Helen got back to sewing so that she could make each child and grandchild a quilt. She also became a member of the Alice Music Study Club, and she loved to get outside and work in the yard.
Helen had lived her entire life in Alice, Texas, and was surrounded by a lifetime of friends there, but when George passed, Helen moved in with her son Chet in Round Rock, Texas. As the Lord led her to a new church after 86 years in the same church, it turned out to be a church with a prayer quilt ministry where she could find fellowship with a new group of friends while using her sewing skills. Alas, it was not the Baptist denomination of her home church; but it was the Methodist denomination of her grandfather, a circuit riding preacher in the central Texas area in the late 1800’s.
Helen often mentioned how much she felt the Lord had blessed her. She was born into a Christian family, married to a good Christian man, and was blessed with four wonderful children. She had a nice long life, and now Helen Biggs Draper has been called home.
Visitation will be held from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM on Sunday, April 23, 2023 at Holmgreen Mortuary. A Funeral Service will be held at 10:00 AM at First Baptist Church. Burial will follow at Alice Cemetery where she will be buried next to her husband of 64 years, George.
Arrangements are entrusted to Holmgreen Mortuary, 2061 East Main Street, Alice, Texas.
Condolences for the family may be offered at www.HolmgreenMortuaryInc.com and shared via Holmgreen Mortuary Facebook.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Helen Biggs Draper, please visit our floral store.