In Memoriam: Helen Gregory

by Jane Preston Rose and Ann Ward

When Helen moved from environmentally forward-thinking Boulder, Colorado, to Kent, she saw no evidence of such consciousness in her new hometown. That dismay turned to delight when she came across Ruth Meade, Walt and Nancy Adams, Joan Sturtevant, and Joyce Keller standing by a truck in Acme Plaza. They were collecting newspapers as part of Kent Environmental Council’s nascent recycling efforts. She enthusiastically connected with the group, helping their efforts to clear the Cuyahoga River banks and supporting the recycling program.

The recycling effort flourished, and a recycling center was built off Lake Street in Kent, staffed by volunteers. Helen’s first foray into fundraising began when money was needed to support the fledgling recycling center. Recognizing that a recycling center might not be of great interest to many potential donors, Helen conceived and led a fund-raising effort to raise money for a Kent beautification program that also would provide some funds to support the recycling center. That effort successfully raised funds to help beautify entrances to Kent. The eight-year Haymakers Parkway landscaping project along the State Route 59 bypass netted contributions totaling $70,000 from the community. Helen enlisted the support of her husband, Stanford, to build an attractive Kent sign at the north entrance to the city on Mantua Street. That carved wood sign grounded in cement continues to welcome people to the city.

Helen Gregory (seated) on the Portage Hike and Bike Trail

A talented writer, Helen launched a column for KEC in the Record-Courier titled “Eco-Focus,” which was published regularly for four years. Her columns covered a wide range of subjects with intriguing titles such as: 

  • Waste not with compost ‘magic’
  • Try alternatives to junking junk mail
  • Thinking ‘green’ good idea for gifts
  • ‘Green’ office means reducing waste stream
  • It’s time to learn to love your leaves

Helen served as chair of KEC in the early 1990s and was member of the Portage Park District Foundation Board. She also was engaged in other leadership and service efforts in the community. In 2018, Helen received the Environmental Conservation Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Portage Park District.

Helen was a relentlessly positive person, and we will sorely miss her energy and encouragement.

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