Helen Uskoski was born Aug. 7, 1924, in a downstairs bedroom of her parents Axel and Alma Uskoski’s Hockinson farmhouse. The same day, her cousin, Clarence Uskoski, was born to Helen’s aunt and uncle, Pete and Aili Uskoski, in an upstairs bedroom. Clarence’s family moved a short distance away and he, with his seven brothers and sisters, and Helen, with her eight brothers and sisters, spent their childhood playing ball, picking prunes and riding their plow horse. The cousins spent their time between the two houses and Alma and Aili would just feed whoever was at the table. Helen’s father, Axel Uskoski, and her grandfather, Matti Uskoski, were preachers. Both were called to travel on mission trips to other localities, including Finland and Sweden. When Helen was 15, her mother passed away. Helen and her three sisters, Evelyn, Lily and Hilma, moved to Hancock, Michigan, where her father married Sandra Simonson. Helen graduated from high school in Hancock and then went on for more secretarial training. She became very proficient in shorthand, typing and transcription. She went to work at a steel mill in Detroit for three years in their main office, then moved to Portland where she worked for the Office of Price Administration. These were the war years and that office worked to place ceilings on rent and most goods, and established rationing for gasoline, sugar, etc. Four of Helen’s brothers were drafted; Frank to England, Ruban to Italy, Bill to France and Everett to the East Coast. Her oldest brother, Alvin, was not drafted because of his age. Her brother Bill was killed in a tank battle in France.
In 1964, Helen was working in the Federal Building in Anchorage when the Alaska Quake hit. The building was destroyed to the point that employees weren’t even allowed back in to retrieve their belongings. Helen was given the option to transfer out of Alaska and she was on a plane the next day. Helen continued to work for the government as a court recorder until she retired in Longview with her sister Lily. Helen enjoyed traveling and visited many states, England, Finland, Sweden, Norway and France.
She and Lily visited a memorial wall in France dedicated to her brother, Bill, and other lost soldiers. She studied both Swedish and Norwegian and spoke Finnish. She was a downhill and cross country skier, an active hiker who walked the length of the Long Beach Peninsula and climbed Mount St. Helens. She remained active by walking with her sister Evelyn and swimming at the Y as long as her health permitted. She had a quiet strength that was an example to all. Her family and her faith were central to her life. Helen was the last of her generation in the Uskoski family, but she lives on in the memories of her 35 nieces and nephews, a handful of cousins, and her loving Christian friends.
Her funeral took place Nov. 30 at the Old Apostolic Church in Woodland, Washington.