Helen Schlie

A Lover Of Words – Helen Schlie Passes On Love For Learning And Life

Helen Spencer Schlie, who died Christmas morning, at 94, was herself a lover of words. Yet, words hardly sufficient to describe the legacy she left, the good that she did, and what she meant to all who met her.

Somewhat of an icon as a published poet, music lover, artist, businesswoman and bookstore owner, she was known for her ready smile, listening ear, tidbits of knowledge, skills for networking and bringing people together, love for her family, strong testimony of the restored gospel, enduring energy, unending stream of ideas, and overwhelmingly positive attitude.

At 90, after a full day’s work at her Old and Rare Bookstore, Helen had said, “I feel I want to accomplish more, to wrap up everything I’ve been dreaming of doing.”

Born in Dearford, Michigan, she was the oldest of six girls and one boy. As a young girl, because her mother was not well, she lived with her grandparents and Aunt Belle, where her love for books began nearly nine decades ago.

“I’ve been reading all my life,” she said. “At five, I’d sit on a stool in the barn and read books while my grandfather was milking.”

Music also became important. All through junior high and high school, she played the piano and clarinet and sang in the school chorus and various church choirs. In her later years, one of Helen’s favorite things was to walk the “224 steps” from her front door to the Mesa Temple to play the organ there.

Helen also took pride in being invited several times to participate in the Mesa Veterans Day parade as one of the last living World War I widows. She and her husband, Walter, were married in 1955.

Helen joined the Church in 1961, after she and Walt took a cross-country trip and stopped at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, where, Helen said, “I got answers to questions I’d had for so many years.”

“Joining the Church gave focus to my whole life,” she added. “My testimony still brings tears to my eyes.”

Walt joined the Church five years later, after retiring and moving to Mesa, where they opened the Mesa Temple View Book and Supply. They ran the bookstore together until 1990. During that time, they came into an original copy of the Book of Mormon that they let bookstore patrons hold and read from. Later, when the Church indicated they didn’t want it, Helen sold individual pages from the book, encased in museum-quality glass.

Helen’s love for words was evident to the end—in the hundreds of books that lined her shelves, the moving and insightful poetry she wrote and often quoted and in her sharing the scriptures she loved, including passing out more than 300 copies of the Book of Mormon.

However, more than words, Helen loved the people they were meant for—especially her daughter, Alnita, her 4 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and 7 great-great-grandchildren—and her many friends and admirers.

“People are so wonderful,” she said. “Life is so wonderful. I just love every minute of it.”

This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. I had the priviliege of meeting this lady about 5 years ago in Mesa at an event with Rod Meldrum. She inbited me over to see her books and when she offered to let me hold her rare cioy of the Book of Mormon, I avout passed out! What an honor it was. She was warm and generous and correct when she told me she felt that allowing people to handle and read from it would do more good than them viewing it through glass. Thank you for this story!

  2. I love this lady. She was so much fun. Filled with spunk and faith. She did so much for my father, Dale Fletcher.

  3. May I share this poem that was in my grandmother’s possession? My Grandmothers’ name is Rebecca Wright Snow. The poem is named “Ancestors.” I love it and wish the church could somehow publish it and hang it up so members could read it as they do their family history. It is full of meaning and can see my ancestors in my daily walk through her beautiful words. I have it transcribed her poem and it is on my desktop so I can read it often as I do my family history. After reading her obituary, I can only imagine what a joy she added to the lives of everyone she met! I would love to know how Helen and Rebecca knew each other.

  4. Somewhere, my Grandmother, Rebecca Snow met your mother, Helen. As I have been working through Rebeccas’ boxes of beloved items, I came across her beautiful poem. May I share it with my local Family History Center? I live in Hurricane, Utah.

    Helen Spencer Schlie – June 1985 – Dec. 2017

    Today I bend my head in reverence, remembering …
    Remembering not sight,
    But incarnate memory,
    Your time on earth – long spent,
    The record of your joys and sorrows
    Recorded in faded lines on delicate paper,
    Fragile and crumbling – dimmed with time.
    I touch the pages gently,
    My love for you – yearning And I remember …
    Remember that I stand on soil your feet have touched.
    I see the beauty your eyes feasted upon,
    I hear the sounds of a living earth that thrilled your soul,
    I bear the touch of life you’ve passed to me—
    Its vibrant flame has lighted the way for others of thy seed
    …the circles of life expanding.
    I behold my grandson,
    Strong and sturdy
    Thy blood coursing through his veins – his lifeblood.
    His life a testament to this eternal plan.
    The kingdom shall roll forth
    And we will join hands and hearts with thee,
    Each in our proper time and place,
    As all things on heaven and earth
    Shall be gathered together in one.
    And as the hearts of our children are turned to thee–
    And your hearts are tuned and turned to us—
    In a vibrant loving life force,
    We pledge to thee our filial devotion;
    We honor thee in remembrance of thy gift of life.

  5. I found a book marker that had the words of Cicero- A room without books is as a Body without a soul. The marker has Helen E Schmidt name and the book stores name on it. I think I found it in a book by Jan Jason.

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