This woman had every reason to be bitter about life, but instead chose to live with one of the greatest spirits a person could possibly have. Positive, kind, grateful, embracing, forgiving, encouraging, and above all, loving. These attributes allowed her to live a life that was full. She simply became a joyful magnet to all who knew her. Helen Louise Burton Sandridge graced our presence as a daughter, sister, niece, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, friend, student, coworker, nurse, teacher, caregiver, and as a Christian.
Nubbs, a family nickname, was born in Welch, WV on January 7th, 1935. Her father passed when she was a baby. She moved to Pulaski, VA in 1941 to begin grade school, living with two aunts, Queenie and Sid. Nubbs would ride the train back to Welch to visit her mother and older siblings, Dorothy and Ed(Sonny). Two uncles, Ferd and Chib, would visit often and take her on wonderful adventures near and far. Her mother passed when Nubbs was twelve. The loss of both parents may have crushed her heart, but not her spirit. She flourished in high school and in 1953 attended Lewis-Gale School of Nursing, in Roanoke, VA.
Helen met George William Sandridge, a railroad man, the love of her life, in 1954. Married in 1955, Helen gave birth to William Hunter in 1956. They moved to Vinton, VA and she gave birth to a second son, Robert Stephen in 1959. Helen became a nursing instructor at Roanoke Memorial Hospital. George continued a long family history of service with N&W Railroad. Aunt Sid moved in to raise Billy and Bobby in 1962. Smith Mountain Lake was created in 1963 and the perfect childhood along with it.
In the mid seventies, Helen began a second career with the American Red Cross, initially as an instructor and finally as Assistant Director of Blood Services. Her one and only soulmate, George, passed away in 1981. She was only forty five. She never considered the love of another man. In 1995, the year Helen retired from the American Red Cross, Aunt Sid passed away. She faithfully began her third career by raising her two grandchildren, Sarah Sydney and Julian Hunter. They were ages eight and five. She loved and nourished them through high school and college. Her first born, William Hunter passed away in 1999. The loss of her first born weighed heavy on her heart, but her ability to put others first allowed his children to benefit from her endless affection. Between 1998 and 2002, she was blessed with three more grandchildren, George Thomas, Annie Kellam, and Pearl Cawthorne. Helen became Grandma and was deeply loved as she cherished this role gladly. The births of William Atticus, Lily Jean, Sawyer Finn, and Lyric Reign brought her more joy as she became a great grandmother known as Gigi.
In June of 2016, Helen moved to Keysville, VA to live with her youngest son. She had started to show signs of Alzheimer’s a couple years earlier. This cruel affliction robbed her of memory, but not of spirit. All who met her, from caretakers to nurses to faithful volunteers with Meals On Wheels, continued to be drawn to her positive and silly nature. Helen spent her final days at a facility dedicated to the care of Alzheimer’s patients. She continued to touch all who met her. Her love was endless and will be felt by many for ages.
Please, in Helen’s memory, go dance with your love, nurture your family, volunteer in your community, play a silly game with a youngster, be a magnet of kindness, and with happiness never forget her. Helen Louise Burton Sandridge will fondly remember all of us. In Heaven may she dwell until we see her sweet smile again.
God Bless You All
The family ♥️