Five days after reporting that she heard Frank calling her, Helen Slayton Mathew passed from this life, six and a half years after the passing of her beloved Frank, whom she married 77 years ago following a two year Rocky Mountain College romance. She was 96.
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She and her younger sister Juanita became orphans in their Graham, Texas, home when Helen was five. Their parents, Bert and Mittie Stup, died of pneumonia within a year of one another and Bert’s sister, Pearl, and her husband Ernest Slayton adopted the girls and brought them to their Lavina area ranch.
Helen graduated from Lavina High School at age 17 and entered Rocky Mountain College (then Billings Polytechnic) in the fall. Soon thereafter she took notice of a darkly handsome junior year, all-around athlete named Frank Mathew. “I flashed my legs at him,” she said, and in short order they became sweethearts for life.
Life as a coach’s wife began in northern Montana, first at Brady and then at Culbertson. Frank entered the Army Air Corps as World War Two began and Helen and their first son, Hal, moved to Denver to be close to Frank’s training area. After discharge the family moved to Frank’s hometown of Clearmont, Wyoming, to teach and coach all sports. A year after that they moved to Powell, Wyoming, where Frank coached and taught and they had their second son, Mike. During that time they spent summers in Laramie so Frank could get a master’s degree at the University of Wyoming.
They moved to Billings in 1949 where they began a 35 year long coaching and teaching career at Rocky Mountain College and where their third son, Larry, was born. Helen was mother to not only her three sons but to dozens of young athletes and their girlfriends who freely dropped by the Mathews’ on-campus home over the years.
Helen began an over 20 year career at Billings Clinic in 1956. She was active in Eastern Star, First United Methodist Church, PEO and was part of the effort to restore Kimball Hall, her dormitory when she was a Billings Poly student. She was den mother for all three of her sons when they went through Cub Scouts. As a coach’s wife she was an avid sports fan herself and followed not only Rocky’s teams but also the Jazz, Mariners, and her beloved Broncos.
Surviving are her sister, Juanita Schofield; her sons, Hal, Mike and Larry; Hal’s daughter Christy; Mike and Kay’s daughters Jill, Amy and Angela; Larry and Jean’s children Cassie, Nathan, Jolynn and Scott. She had nine great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
Memorials can be given to the Frank and Helen Mathew Scholarship Fund at Rocky Mountain College or to the Spokane Shriner’s Hospital for Children.