Helen Claghorn's Story

A Lover of the Outdoors

At first Helen Claghorn didn't want to race, but her husband all but dared her to do it. After all, how could she win again local girls who'd been snow mobile racing all their lives? In the first try, she flipped her snow mobile. But in the second try, she won! Helen grew up an adventurous soul. 

Whether it was riding her Shetland pony as a girl, or playing competitive tennis, golf, skiing, kayaking or biking; she loved the outdoors. Helen was born August 29, 1929 in Elgin, IL, the younger daughter of Lida and Art Giertz. Art was in construction, building "big things" Helen recalls, while Lida took care of the girls. Helen followed her older sister Barbara to college in Colorado. Barbara had gone to the University of Boulder, but she recommended a smaller school nearby for her little sister, Colorado College.

There Helen studied sociology between skiing and other sports. And it was also there that she met her husband Jack. 

A Simple Marriage and Life

After Jack's stint in the military where he served in Germany helping with the reconstruction, the couple married in 1950 in Chicago and took the train out for a ski honeymoon at Pikes Peak-their favorite ski area near Colorado College. His proposal wasn't planned or theatrical: marriage was just something they'd know they would do from practically the moment they met. The couple settled in Neenah, WI and had three children, Karen, Scott and Anne. Helen stayed at home and took care of the kids while Jack made a name for himself in advertising, representing snow mobile manufacturers and other winter sports companies: an occupation that suited both Helen and Jack's active lifestyle. The family bought a place in Eagle River, WI where they spent summers on the lake, Jack commuting up on weekends from the city. Helen volunteered for the women's auxiliary and wheels on meals.

The Kids go to Colorado College

All three of their children followed in their footsteps and went to Colorado College and all three settled in Colorado. Of her four grandchildren, Anne's daughter followed her grandfather Jack into the advertising business. After Jack died in 1995, Helen retired to Sun City, Florida where she played cards, enjoyed sunsets and learned yoga, boce ball and minigolf. In 2001, she met Charlie Brokes, who was her companion until his death in 2015. After Charlie's death, Helen moved back to Colorado to be near her kids and grandkids.

Helen Loves for Flying Continues

Helen had always had a fascination with flying and often flew with Jack after he got his license. Though she never completed her pilot training, in 2011 at the age of 80 she went skydiving for the first time. "If I wanted to feel young again, I'd go sky diving again," she says. "It was fun, like flying." For Helen, even approaching 90, the adventure is never over.