Helen Baldwin Telfer

March 10, 1931February 10, 2022
Obituary of Helen Baldwin Telfer
Helen left us to be with the Lord on February 10, 2022. She struggled for 6 months with cancer. While she leaves a hole in our hearts, we rejoice in knowing she lived a loving and fulfilling life and is now in the light of the Lord. Helen was born on March 10, 1931, in a log cabin without running water about five miles from the town of Crystal Springs Mississippi to Louis Oakley Baldwin and Lucy Elizabeth (“Honey”) Thornton Baldwin. Helen was the second of five children and was a child of the depression. The family went through lean times but managed to make a living off the family farm in Mississippi. Helen lived through some historical moments during our country’s history. When she was only 5 years of age, Franklin Roosevelt, speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, told the country, “this generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.” How true! Helen was active in Mississippi fighting for justice and equality for African Americans during the civil rights movement. She always stood up for what she believed was right, which was not only admirable for a young woman during the time, but especially one in Mississippi. In 2021, during a family zoom call held in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 when Helen turned 90 years of age, a niece of Helen’s asked her what she thought was the greatest advancement during her lifetime of 90 years. Her answer was, “having electricity in the home.” It did not go unnoticed that she mentioned this on her 90th birthday while looking at family members across the country on a live stream on a computer screen. What incredible advancements she saw during her lifetime! Helen told us once she earned $1.50 per day when she was 10 years old picking cabbage from the fields and placing them in bags that held 50 lbs each. Oakley, her father, would pay his children the same rate he paid the farm hands. It seemed like a lot of money to Helen at the time. Helen attended Berea College, a private liberal arts college in Berea Kentucky and obtained her BA degree in history in 1957. Berea College charges no tuition and every admitted student is provided the equivalent of a four-year scholarship. Students are required to work a certain number of hours each week and Helen spent her time throwing pots and making tapestries that were sold to raise money for the college. She later went to Southern Illinois University and obtained her Master of Arts degree in 1959. Helen met Arnold Kiss, her future husband, on a cruise ship when she was working as a waitress and he as a steward. The ships would depart from NY city and travel to Haiti, Jamaica, and other ports of interest. Soon after they married, they had two daughters. When those daughters were quite small, Arnold died of cancer and Helen was left to pick up the pieces in supporting the young family while facing untold hurdles like a mortgage on the house they had recently built, medical bills because the medical insurance had lapsed during Arnold’s illness. Helen demonstrated, again, what a strong woman she was by going back to school to get her teaching certification so she could have summers off with her daughters while making a living wage. After teaching several years in New Jersey, Helen moved the family to San Antonio Texas where her mother, Honey, was working at Kelly Airforce Base, and they took up residence together. Helen was an active member of the Sierra Club and spent a good part of each summer leading and taking trips with the club to various national and state parks across the U.S. She used to wear a shirt that said, “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” She loved nature and the serenity and calm the surroundings provided her. She instilled that love in her children and grandchildren as well as people she met. During a trip to London, which Helen was awarded after receiving a significant teaching honor, Helen met another traveler, one who came from Wales, Eric Telfer. Helen and Eric had a two-year long-distance relationship until it was decided Eric would relocate to San Antonio Texas and they would marry. They had many happy years together until Eric’s death in 2013. Helen is survived by her children Elizabeth Cooper, San Antonio, TX and Mary Thomas, San Antonio, TX; sister, Ruth Baldwin, Hendersonville, NC; two brothers, Bill Baldwin, Wickenburg, AZ, and Tom Baldwin, Eastsound, WA; two grandchildren, Amanda Domsch and Nova Cooper; and three great-grandchildren. Helen was preceded in death by her sister, Edna Chandley. Memorial Service: In order to allow family members time to travel to San Antonio, a memorial service has been scheduled for 10:00 a.m. at Coker United Methodist Church in San Antonio on Saturday, March 26, 2022 with a reception to follow. Contributions: In lieu of flowers, contributions in Helen Telfer’s memory may be made to Berea College ( or 101 Chestnut St., Berea, KY 40404), your local Sierra Club, or Coker United Methodist Church ( or 231 East North Loop Rd., San Antonio, TX 78216). Condolences: Condolences may be left online for the family at Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Telfer family.

Show your support

Past Services

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Memorial Service