Former Journal editor touched thousands of lives

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It has taken me some time to come to grips with the fact that Journal Editor Emeritus Helen Bale has left this world behind (Journal, March 22). When I was hired by the Journal a quarter-century ago as Motoring and Real Estate Editor, Helen had just retired from her position as editor. She was asked by new editor Tom Homer to baptize me as to (our computer system’s) intricacies. Over the years I grew to respect and love Helen immensely. She was a skilled writer and editor, not only for print but television as well, and unknown to many was the first woman to break the sound barrier in a Phantom Jet, seated behind a brigadier general, in the 1950s. A dedicated traveler, she was a member of the International Police Officers’ Association based in Ireland, and was that body’s newsletter editor, traveling frequently to the Emerald Isle. A Master Gardener, she wrote a gardening column plus her weekly “Through Irish Eyes” for the Journal; established the Hugh Bale Memorial Rose Garden surrounding the Journal parking lot; was a long-time member of the Placer County grand jury; served as chairperson of the annual McCann Awards; and deeply involved in so many aspects of Placer County life that affected hundreds, if not thousands, of its citizens. I recall asking her one day, it happened to be a Wednesday, how she had injured her forehead. She replied sprightly, “I’m really OK, I’ve just come from church.” It was “Ash Wednesday.” I was so fortunate to visit Helen in her home about two months ago, and at her insistence, enjoyed a tumbler of Hennessey’s, straight up. For me, Helen Bale is still here. She was born Dec. 25, 1920, and “arrived” March 20, 2009. Chuck Butler Granite Bay