Helena A. Howard, the second of eight children, was born July 18th, 1938 to (the late) David Leon Mears, Sr. and Gladys Beatrice Clayton Mears in Islandton, South Carolina. She grew up in a very loving, God-fearing home among close-knit family members.
After high school, Helena moved to New York City around 1957. She was introduced to Adell Howard. They became enamoured with one another, courted, and married in 1961. Yes, they enjoyed celebrating sixty years of anniversaries. They lovingly raised their family on Bradford Street in Brooklyn where the whole neighborhood knew Helena. She was affectionately referred to as the “neighborhood grandma”. Her children can recall bringing their friends home where their Mom would always feed whomever entered their doors. The family’s church home, Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, is where Adell has served as a Deacon. Every Sunday after service, church members would go home with Adell and be welcomed at Helena’s table for a sumptuous breakfast of eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, grits, homemade biscuits … oh, and of course bible study and prayer. She loved to cook, and would especially go all out for Resurrection Sunday! All who have ever had Helena’s macaroni & cheese, fried chicken, turkey wings, greens, candied yams, and her other mouth-watering dishes, know what it’s like to be loved by her southern cooking.
For several years, Helena was employed at Ideal Corporation, but retired at the birth of her first grandchild Kévon. This natural-born teacher taught her grandchildren to read and write before they entered school by wearing alphabet T-shirts as a fun way for them to learn their ABCs. When KV began elementary school at P.S. 13 (Roberto Clemente School), Helena spent many years volunteering there as a School Aide, serving in many classroom capacities, and gravitating to the school cafeteria where she enjoyed serving meals to the children. She was so dedicated to her work and such an asset to the school that she was eventually hired by the Department of Education as a salaried employee. At age 83, Helena was still currently and actively employed at P.S. 13 until her passing.
Helena had some special passions, one of which was grocery shopping. She was really serious about her grocery shopping … which she engaged in almost every day with her grandchildren! They enjoyed going with her too, for she would allow each of them to fill their own bag with groceries of their choosing. All the grocers in her neighborhood knew her well. One of her other favorite places to frequent was Resorts World Casino. Helena was a life-giving force in so many ways, not only to her husband, children, grandchildren, siblings, school children, church members and neighbors, but she was also gifted with a green thumb. She loved plants, and they responded to her nurture the same way people did; by flourishing.
On Thursday, December 30th, 2021 which seemed to be a routine day, Helena Howard’s work on this earth came to an abrupt ending. Having just come from grocery shopping, she rested down her shopping bags, and then eternally rested down her body. Her first-born niece, Dr. Deborah Speaks, daughter of her sister Galena, preceded her in death just the day before on Wednesday, December 29th.
Helena leaves to cherish her memory, her four children: Theodora Howard (Brooklyn), Bevelyn Howard-Barkley (Long Island), Chanta Pelzer (Michael) (Long Island), and Savellis Howard (Renita) (Brooklyn); her siblings: Galena Mann (Brooklyn), Andrea F. Kennedy (Atlanta), David Mears, Jr. (Shirley), Lennon Mears, Jerone Mears, Kenneth Mears (Marie), and Milton Mears (Shermina) – all of Islandton, South Carolina; her grandchildren who affectionately called her “Gramps”: Kévon Barkley, Kabria Barkley, Michael Pelzer, Miles Pelzer, Narielle Pelzer, Ariyana Pelzer, Ethan Howard, Rory Howard, and Shaye Howard; her great-grandchildren: Carter Barkley and Kayden Barkley; two brothers-in-law: Anthony Midgette (Sheila) and Lee Andrew Midgette – both of Atlanta; nieces, nephews, cousins too numerous to name, and a host of other relatives, neighbors, students, loved ones, and friends. Helena will even be missed by Bria’s canine “kids” -- her granddogs: Bentley and Shady.