Helen Jean Duke Croswell of Panama City, Florida, passed away on Thursday, February 9, 2017, at her home with her beloved son, Adam Croswell, by her side.
She was born in Dermott on October 22, 1949 and graduated from Hamburg High School in 1967. She furthered her education and graduated from The University of Arkansas at Monticello with a Bachelor of Science in Education. Her career began as an educator which led to social work. She retired as an administrator for the care and welfare of Florida’s abused and neglected children. Her compassionate heart expanded into every facet of life – both personally and professionally.
Helen was an active member of the Grace Sunday School class at First Baptist Church Panama City where she was the substitute teacher. She loved her class as they loved her. Above all, family was the most important thing to her. Nothing made her happier than when she became “Grammi” to Owen and Ella.
Always the organizer, Helen loved planning get-togethers and trips for both family and friends. She delighted in gathering together regardless of the occasion. She never met a stranger and the variety of people in her life reflected her generous and loving heart. She was best known for her love of life and the joy she brought to everyone who knew her. If she wasn’t ‘calling the hogs’ while cheering on the Arkansas Razorbacks, she could be found organizing lunches with friends, holding court to share her latest joke, or speed-reading her way through a mystery novel. Even throughout her health struggles, Helen’s perseverance and positivity shone through. She often said, “Cancer is going to kill me one day, but it’s not going to kill me every day.” This motto allowed her to truly enjoy life for the six years after her first diagnosis, while sharing her strength and courage with others. Helen knew that death and adversity were a part of life and she faced the end with the courage and grace we all aspire to have.
Helen was preceded in death by her parents, James Richard Duke and Muriel Riley Duke, and the love of her life, Lonnie Joe Croswell.
Survivors include her son, Adam Croswell, and wife Jennifer, and their children, Owen (6) and Ella (4) of McLean, Virginia; her sister, Susie Duke Harrison of Lake Village, Arkansas; her brothers, Jimbo Duke and wife, Regina, of Pine Bluff, Arkansas; and David Duke and wife, Sheffield, of Little Rock, Arkansas; four nieces, Tera Duke Huntsman and husband, Alan, Helen Sheffield Coulter and husband, Ben, Riley Duke Connick and husband, Brendan and Rachael Harrison and numerous great nieces and nephews.
Memorial services will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 18, 2017 at the First Baptist Church in Hamburg with Rev. Ben Coulter and Dr. Bobby Pennington officiating. A private burial will be in the Hamburg Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to one of her favorite charities: Covenant Care, Panama City Rescue Mission, Second Harvest, or The Humane Society of Bay County.