Helen McClellan, 94, of Polson left this earth on January 2, 2022 after a brief illness at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.
Helen was born to Swedish and Russian immigrant parents who had previously been fur traders in the Siberian arctic but were displaced by the Russian Communist revolution, third and eventually middle child of five, Helen was born in the tent the family was living in near Polson on June 2nd, 1927, just in time to grow up during the Great Depression and the rationing of the war effort for World War Two. She quickly learned the value of thrift, perseverance, and hard work during those years.
Building on her natural affinity and talent for music, Helen became the first of the family’s children to graduate from college, graduating from the University of Montana in 1950 with a BA in Music. Playing piano and singing remained a significant part of her life and were key to her meeting her husband, Malcolm McClellan who was also talented. They sang together in many settings over the course of their lives.
Married in 1952, Helen and Mal moved from Seattle to Southern California in 1954, moving from Pacific Palisades to Malibu in 1960, teaching school and investing in real estate. In the early eighties, both became stalwart conservative political activists, embracing values they would hold for the rest of their lives. Between their political and business interests and living in Malibu, they interacted with more luminaries in the worlds of politics and entertainment than can be counted. They also became familiar with other facets of Malibu life, like the frequent mudslides, earthquakes and fires, which reached a personal crescendo when the Old Topanga fire burned down their house and most of their personal possessions in 1993.
After husband Malcolm’s passing in 2000 and following her son who had moved to Polson the previous year, Helen returned permanently to the Polson area in 2002, though she preferred to spend her winters in Palm Springs, CA. Not so many years after moving “home”, Helen was adopted by “Kitty”, a half feral cat that roamed the neighborhood. Finding her suitable, Kitty moved right in, and they entertained each other for many years, until the end of 2020.
Close family preceding her in death were her parents, Carl and Marie Johnson; husband, Malcolm McClellan; brother, Chester Johnson; sister, Gloria Violette; brother-in-law, Ed Violette.
Helen is survived by her sister, Lillian Stephenson; brother, Gene Johnson; and her loving son, Ron McClellan; and a great many members of her extended family.
Friends will especially remember Helen’s quiet manner, cheerful smile, optimistic attitude and generosity. It was a life full of challenges – but she was up to handling them.
A service will be held on Saturday, January 15, 2022 at The Lake Funeral Home, 101 Sixth Ave. East in Polson. Viewing at 11:00 am, service at 12:00 pm, interment at Lakeview Cemetery to follow. Reception plans TBA at Service. A Celebration of Life event will be held in the summer after July 4, circumstances permitting.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to a local charity, particularly ones that support needy animals or children.