Helms’ Legacy Honors Both Departed Husbands


Wesley Homes Des Moines resident Gloria Helms pays tribute to her late husbands through a chapel designation.

Gloria Helms, born Gloria Traynor, grew up in North Dakota. She moved to Washington State in 1951 with her soon-to-be husband, John White, where she worked as a secretarial assistant at General Electric for 58 years.

John passed away in 1980, and Gloria married Phil Helms in 2003.

Gloria, a fifteen year resident of Wesley Homes Des Moines, has contributed to the Wesley Homes Foundation since 2002 for various programs and in support of the Foundation’s benevolence fund for residents.

She recently made a contribution to support the Des Moines campus redevelopment. This provided Gloria with the opportunity to name the chapel in the new Gardens building. Wanting to honor both of her beloved late husbands, Gloria decided to combine their names.

The new communal space will be called the White-Helms Chapel & Community Room. Plans for the large, multi-purpose room include a two-story high ceiling with several windows for natural lighting. The chapel and community room is one of several life-enriching amenities planned for the new Gardens building.

Redeveloping the Des Moines campus is an important endeavor that will provide for more modern amenities and independent lifestyles. The project, already underway, continues to progress in a series of phases and is expected to be completed in 2022.

“The campus needs updating, and Wesley, like any business, has to do something to stay competitive,” said Gloria. She is a member of the Resident Redevelopment Committee, which has helped shape some of the decisions for the project.

Foundation Executive Director Susan McConnell said Gloria is one of the first people she met when she joined the Wesley family.

“Gloria’s got such a positive outlook and embraces change when she sees a need for it,” said Susan. “She was the first person I thought should be on the Redevelopment Committee.”

Wesley Homes isn’t the only organization to which Gloria contributes. Being an alumna of the North Dakota State College of Science, she’s donated to her alma mater for nearly 20 years. She also gives to her local church.

When asked why she contributes, Gloria said it’s good to support something you care about. She also believes it is the way she was raised by her parents—with an understanding of charity and helping others.

“It’s just an attitude,” she says. “You want to contribute to the community you’re a part of.”

A dedication ceremony is planned for the White-Helms Chapel & Community Room once that phase of the new Gardens building is completed. Gloria also plans to have her son and her priest present to help honor the dedication.