Helen Alexander Macaulay, age 91, of Colfax, NC formerly of Asheboro, NC, passed away with family by her side on Thursday, May 6, 2021 at River Landing at Sandy Ridge in Colfax, NC.
Helen was born in Spartanburg, SC just 22 days before Black Tuesday, on October 7, 1929, to parents Robert Scott and Helen Connors Alexander. Her father liked to joke that her birth in fact caused the stock market crash. She grew up in Seneca, SC, and as a youth played guard on her high school basketball team, going all the way to the state championship. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Queens College in Charlotte, NC, where she was a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority and served as President of the Panhellenic Council.
In July 1950 she married her best friend's older brother, Wilkes Dendy Macaulay, who -- upon returning home from serving in the Navy during World War II -- had discovered his kid sister's friend had grown up in the meantime and become a rather attractive young woman. Wilkes was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1952, and together they served churches in Dekalb, MS, Kenly, NC, Prospect Presbyterian Church in Mooresville, NC, and First Presbyterian, Asheboro, NC. She was a full-time mother for many years, but starting in the late 1960s and continuing through the 1970s she taught high school home economics and family life at Coleridge School and Eastern Randolph High School.
As a devoted and loving wife, she supported her husband in his ministry, served in the churches in numerous capacities, and was awarded Honorary Lifetime Membership by the Presbyterian Women of the Church. She and Wilkes enjoyed going to Davidson basketball games and later, when her children were grown, traveling the world. As a homemaker and mother, she reared five children in the Christian faith, encouraging them in their endeavors, and teaching them life skills: not only cooking, sewing, and repairing things around the house, but also how to get along and treat others with kindness and respect. As a seamstress she made many of their clothes, including coats, costumes for Halloween and plays, prom dresses, bridesmaid's dresses, wedding dresses and Scottish kilts. Despite her unquestionable skills in this department, there was also the occasional fashion faux pas; her daughters delight in recalling how mortified they were by the swimsuits she made for them, and the furry hats with long flaps that could be tied together for warmth (a look that never quite caught on).
Ever frugal and living on a meager budget, she decorated manses with curtains she made and furniture she repaired, refinished and reupholstered herself. She wore many hats, so to speak: As an economist, she taught her children to use money wisely, how to save and stretch a dollar so that there would always be food on the table and enough to pay the bills. As a conservationist, she taught us to conserve our resources, to turn off lights, to avoid wasting food or water, to fix and reuse things instead of discarding them. As an amateur architect, she drew floor plans and designed renovations for her homes. She was an electrician, plumber, a repairer of lamps, vacuum cleaners, appliances... she could generally fix anything that was broken; she'd at least give it a shot. As her sister, Patricia, used to tell her own children, "There are ministers' wives who will pray when there is a crisis, but if I were stuck on an island with Helen, she'd be chopping down palm trees and building us a boat!"
To her grandchildren she was known simply as Muv (combining Mom and Love, and easier for a child to spell). As a grandmother she was affectionate, and a source of gentle wisdom. She remained physically active well into later life, but she mostly enjoyed a quiet retirement, letting the clan whoop and holler around her while she relaxed with a book, especially on her screened porch. Here and there amidst the cacophony she might interject a subtle joke, heard by only a few; those who did manage to catch one of her asides knew she had the keenest wit.
Even as her memory faded in recent years, she continued to speak kindly and cordially to staff and other residents in her memory care unit, always attentive and caring for others. Once, in the middle of the night, Helen even came to check on her startled 65-year-old daughter, covering her up, making sure she was warm enough and had enough cover on her bed. Always a caring mother, it was almost instinctual.
In addition to her parents, Helen was preceded in death by her husband of 67 years, Wilkes Macaulay, sister, Patricia Scott Alexander and grandson, Andrew Lane. She is survived by her beloved sister-in-law, Joanne Macaulay Cauthen; daughters Pat Macaulay, Lib Ramsay (Lou), Joanne Corsbie (Chris), and Lucy Alexa Lane (Mike); son, Clay Macaulay (Pam); granddaughters, Helen Skeen (Thomas), Maggie Lankford (Lucas), and Carolyn Macaulay; grandsons, Burt Teachey (Katie), Alex Teachey, Wilkes Bass, Robert Bass, and Alec Macaulay (Mia); six great-granddaughters and a great-grandson.
A Service of Witness to the Resurrection will be held on Monday, May 10 at 1:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 420 West Walker Avenue, Asheboro, NC with Rev. Dr. Clay Macaulay officiating. Social distancing and wearing of masks will be observed. The service will be live-streamed at https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCZTvbJiM7ayd5vWEJgBHnnw Burial will be held at a later time in the Oconee Memorial Park, Seneca, SC.
The family would like to thank the staff of River Landing Retirement Community, especially the staff at Muirfield, St. Andrews and Pebble Beach, for their extraordinary kindness and compassionate, loving care given to Helen during her time there.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 420 W. Walker Ave., Asheboro, NC 27203; Prospect Presbyterian Church, 9425 NC-152, Mooresville, NC 28115; or Presbyterian Homes Foundation Inc. for benefit of River Landing Resident Financial Assistance, 2109 Sandy Ridge Road, Colfax, NC 27235.
Pugh Funeral Home in Asheboro is serving the family.