Leroy Jay Helt, Jr., a 27-year USAF Veteran, lived an adventurous, fulfilling international life. Having moved more than 25 times, and losing count after that, his fondest memories are with his two children and his wife, Frances Jean Morrow Helt of Hastings, niece of Edwin Perkins, while living in Japan in the early 70’s when he was working with Mitsubishi in the aerospace division.
Jay and Frances met in Spokane, Washington through a mutual friend. On the day of their first date, Jay was deployed to survey a plane crash site and called Frances to cancel their date. She replied, “Well, can I come along?” He knew then that she was a keeper!
“Jay” as he was simply known, was born on 5 December 1932 in Mobile, Alabama to Leroy Jay Helt, Sr. and Ruby Estelle Busler Helt. He grew up in Mobile, and was a graduate of the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, earning a BS degree in Aerospace Engineering followed by an MS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Washington University, St. Louis. Jay was also a licensed commercial pilot, a type-rated USAF Pilot A&P, and registered Professional Engineer in California and Texas.
Jay passed away on 13 April 2019 in Denison, Texas following a lengthy illness of heart failure and diabetes, although on his death certificate, it states “Failure to Thrive” as cause of death. We beg to differ! Those that knew Jay, knew there was never a dull moment in this man’s life!
When he wasn’t in Doniphan, Nebraska admiring his brother in-law Bill Morrow’s vintage car collection or feeding his cattle, he was either flying his single-engine Cessna 210; driving an Audi, Saab or Porsche too fast “to clean the engine”; mentoring youth interested in a career with the CIA or USAF; building planes, trains and automobiles in the garage; or raising his beloved Old English Sheepdogs.
Jay was preceded in death by his wife of 53 years, Frances Jean Morrow from Hastings and his son Edwin Jay Helt of Arlington, Texas, named after his great uncle, Edwin Perkins, inventor of Kool Aid.
He is survived by his daughter Holly Anne Helt of Kobe, Japan; his sister Carolyn Grube and two nieces, Keri Williams and Esther Grube, from Mobile; and two grandchildren, Trenton Jay Helt and Meghan Elizabeth Helt of Arlington, Texas.
Jay was laid to rest next to his wife and son, along with a packet of his favorite Bing Cherry Kool Aid, on 6 May 2019 at the Parkview Memorial Cemetery in Hastings, Nebraska.
Donations can be made at www.rebasranchhouse.org or by check to Reba’s Ranch House, 5036 Reba Drive, Denison, Texas 75020. We are building a room at Reba’s Ranch House in Jay’s memory.