Select Page
Home » Campus News Latest » Obituaries » Helen O. Epps, Former Staff

Mrs. Helen O. Epps, age 94, received her heavenly wings on June 3, 2020 at the home of her daughter and soninlaw in Atlanta, GA. Helen was born to the late Rev. William E. Oliver and Bertha Oliver Harris on November 22, 1925 in Youngstown, OH.

She attended Youngstown Public Schools and graduated from South High School in 1944. Helen received a B.S. in Home Economics at State College Wilberforce (now Wilberforce University), Wilberforce, OH in 1948; She received a Masters of Education Degree in 1982 from Ashland College in Ashland, OH; Helen married Wade Alexander Epps on April 18, 1953 in Columbus, OH where they remained until relocating to Worthington OH in 1964. To this union a daughter and son were born. Helen and Wade were members of Second Baptist Church until moving to Worthington. They both joined Worthington Presbyterian Church and remained members until their deaths. Helen was an outstanding educator in the Columbus Public Schools for 43 years.

Her passion for education continued after retirement and she worked several years at Antioch College as a Coordinator of Student Teachers. Helen was a civil rights activist starting with her NAACP membership in college. She fought for voting rights and social justice through her passion for researching Africian American history and sharing with others. Helen was her family’s historian tracing family back 4 generations which included slavery. She created the Oliver Family Birthday Calendar that she used to remember all living family members with birthday cards. She was active with St. John AME Church in Worthington during their annual African American History programs sharing her knowledge of the Underground Railroad conductors in the Worthington and Flint Road areas.

When racism at Worthington H.S. prevented her daughter Leslie and other African American girls from participating on the cheer leading squad she joined with parent activist Rev. N. Jeanne Woodward and her daughter Kristy to make a change. As a result, Worthington’s first Drill team, The Cardinal Cadets, was founded and performed with the marching band during the first game halftime of the 1969-1970 football season. The first uniforms were designed by Helen Epps. Gentrification began occurring in Helen’s neighborhood, Flint Ridge Terrace, developed by an African American entrepreneur. She encouraged the resident association there to preserve the neighborhood’s African American history.

Helen became chairperson of the Sharon Flint Residents’ Association Historical Committee and wrote the book “Linking Past to the Present: An Historical Account of Flintridge Terrance & its Surrounding Areas”. Helen enjoyed quilting and made many quilts for family and friends. She rarely charged for her work because they were a labor of love. Helen displayed her quilts at the Ohio State Fair and won recognition. She is also a featured quilter in the book, A Communion of the Spirits: African-American Quilters, Preservers, and Their Stories by Roland L. Freeman. Helen combined her teaching and quilting skills to help seniors make quilts at adult day care centers and senior living facilities in Columbus, OH.

After relocating to Atlanta Helen made prayer quilts as Christmas gifts for family and friends who helped her relocate to Atlanta. Her last quilt was an artistic quilt from a President Obama caricatured on fabric. Helen was preceded in death by her father (Rev. William E. Oliver), mother (Bertha Oliver Harris), husband (Wade A. Epps), five brothers and three sisters. She leaves to celebrate her homecoming; two children, Leslie Jeanne Epps-Smith of Decatur, GA and Richard Alexander Epps (RAE) of Worthington, OH; one son-in-law, Cornelius (Smitty) Smith also of Decatur, GA; nieces, nephews, cousins, relatives and dear friends.In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Helen O. Epps may be forwarded to the Alzheimer’s Association, 225 N. Michigan Ave., 17th Floor, Chicago, IL 60601 or OR Helen Jenkins Davis Scholarship Fund Lunch Bunch, PO BOX 360941 Columbus, OH 43236. Burial was at Northlawn Memory Garden 7060 OH 3 Westerville, OH, 43082.