Helen L. Travis, an educator with the Pinellas County school system for 35 years, died Saturday (June 19, 1993) at the Alhambra Nursing Home. She was 66.
Her sister, Margaret L. Kraft of St. Petersburg, said she died from complications of diabetes.
Miss Travis, who was popular at Bear Creek School, was honored on her 20th year as principal. "She was the first principal at Bear Creek School," her sister said.
In a 1980 news story about the event, PTA president Sherry Armstrong said more than 6,700 students who passed through the school were influenced by Miss Travis, who had devoted her life to them.
The theme of the party centered around a bear. One large brown bear was on the stage backdrop that said "Bear Creek has Flair." A former PTA president presented a canvas book bag as a gift to her inscribed with the words "The First Lady of Bear Creek."
She also received an honorary life membership in the Florida PTA by Sally Saron, then State PTA board member and former Pinellas County Council of PTAs president.
The article said she had the ability to inspire young people. Once two fifth-graders, after hearing Miss Travis tell the story of Huckleberry Finn, built a raft and started out on Tampa Bay to go down the Mississippi River. They were rescued by a police officer after a helicopter search.
A Detroit native, she came here in 1936 and attended Gulfport Elementary School and graduated from St. Petersburg High School in 1945. She was a graduate of Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C., and received her master's degree in education and administration at Columbia University in New York City. She was a member of Alpha Phi Chapter of Delta Kappa.
"Before she became the principal at Bear Creek, she taught fifth-grade at North Shore School for 12 years," her sister said. She retired in 1984.
Miss Travis was a member of the Pasadena Community Church and many teacher organizations, including the South Pinellas County Educators Association. She was a life member of the Florida Congress of Parents and Teachers and former president of the International Reading Association of Pinellas County.
Besides Kraft, she is survived by two other sisters, Irene T. Young, Sarasota, and Jean T. Girard, Ocala; a brother, Gordon K. Travis, Kingsport, Tenn.; and 12 nieces and nephews.
Friends may call today from 6 to 8 p.m. at R. Lee Williams & Son Funeral Home, 3530 49th St. N. The funeral will be at 2 p.m. Monday at the funeral home, with Rev. Wayne S. Madden officiating. Burial will follow in Memorial Park Cemetery.
The family requests that memorials be made to the Pinellas County Education Foundation, 10125 Ulmerton Road, Largo.
_ Some of the information in this article came from a story by Bette Smith in the St. Petersburg Times.