Dorothy Helms, widow of former Sen. Jesse Helms, dies at 96
Posted November 7, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — Dorothy “Dot” Coble Helms, the widow of former U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, died Friday in Raleigh. She was 96.
Helms, a Raleigh native, graduated from the University of North Carolina, where she earned a degree in journalism. She one of the first two women to earn a journalism degree from UNC.
"Mrs. Helms was one of North Carolina’s most beloved citizens – as a loyal wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother,” Gov. Pat McCrory said. “She was also a pioneer among women in journalism and a leading community volunteer in Raleigh and Washington. It was a personal privilege to present her with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2013. Our prayers will remain with her family."
After graduation, Helms held positions at the News and Observer and three publications in Ahoskie: the Hertford County Herald, the Gates County Index and the Bertie-Ledger Advance. She also worked part time at the Star News in Wilmington.
She met her husband at the News and Observer, who worked as a sports reporter. The Helms’ married on Oct. 31, 1942 at the First Baptist Church in Raleigh.
Helms served on the Board of Directors of the Jesse Helms Center Foundation in Wingate, and was instrumental in forming the Wake County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“Dot” Helms was also involved with the Helms School of Government at Liberty University, the Women’s Missionary Union of Hayes Barton Baptist Church, Daughters of the American Revolution, and she served as a volunteer at Gallaudet College for the Deaf.
"Renee and I were saddened last night to learn of the passing of Mrs. Dorothy Helms. Mrs. Helms was a remarkable woman who stood by me as Chairman of my first campaign for Congress," Congressman Richard Hudson (R-NC) said. "One of the first women to graduate from UNC School of Journalism, she dedicated her life to her family, countless charitable works and was a major force in her husband's political career.
"The quintessential 'steel magnolia, I will miss Mrs. Helms' grace, charm, and strong opinions. Renee and I extend our condolences to the entire Helms family and hope they take great solace in knowing she is reunited with her beloved husband in the presence of our Creator."
Helms is survived by her children, Jane Knox, Nancy Helms and Charles Helms; seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
A service celebrating Helms’ life will be held Tuesday at Hayes Barton Baptist Church on Glenwood Avenue at 2 p.m.