April 8, 2016

Helen Hiers Usher passed away on April 1, 2016, at Oak Hammock in Gainesville, Florida, after a long, courageous battle with Alzheimer's Disease.  She was born on November 2, 1930, to Velma and Delma Hiers.  Both her mother’s family (the Clyatts & Hudsons) and her father’s family (the Hiers & Overstreets) were pioneer Levy County families.

She was the youngest of 4 children, Violet, Johnnie, and John Delma, Jr. (“Bud”), and enjoyed fond memories of growing up with her immediate family and her extended family of cousins who lived nearby.

Helen attended school in Chiefland and Bronson and graduated from Chiefland High School in 1948.  She was Valedictorian of her class.

Helen attended Florida State University as the first member of her extended Levy County family to attend college.  She majored in business education and graduated in 1952 magna cum laude.  She was a committed and faithful FSU Seminole ever since!

Helen returned to Levy County to teach business courses at Bronson High School.  She taught until December of 1955.

In 1953, she married Etter Usher of Chiefland.  They had 3 children, Lynetta, Karen and Tommy (Etter Thomas Usher, III).  Helen retired from teaching four months before Lynetta’s birth, but never lost her love of education.  She was extremely proud that her 3 children were all college graduates.

Helen enjoyed her family and friends and traveled with them to enjoy other areas of the country and the world.  She was an accomplished water skier and snow skier, until her early 70’s!  As strong Seminole fans, she and her daughter, Karen, along with other friends, went on several Bobby Bowden Cruises.  Even when Helen’s memory began to fail her, she didn’t know where the cruise had taken her but she knew that Bobby was on the ship!!

Etter and Helen worked together to build their timber, cattle and farming business along with their land holdings, and at the same time, they worked tirelessly for Chiefland and Levy County.  Helen was very active in the PTA when her children were in school.  She was a founding member of the Chiefland Woman’s Club and the Levy County Education Foundation.  She served for many years on the Area Agency on Aging.  In 1994, she was named the Citizen of the Year by the Chiefland Chamber of Commerce in recognition of her many years of service to her community.

Helen and Etter lost their son, Tommy, in a tragic boating accident on the Suwannee River in May of 1989.  They established the Tommy Usher Memorial Scholarship in Levy County and the Tommy Usher Waterski Scholarship at Florida Southern College in his memory.  Tommy's passing was a tremendous loss for both Helen and Etter, but helping young students further their education gave them a sense of satisfaction.

Helen was a strong Christian.  She loved to sing and listen to gospel hymns.  Gospel music comforted her until the end.

Helen had many lady friends who have been so faithful to her throughout her failing memory.  She had wonderful support from her many nieces, Judi, Anita, Sandra, Sylvia and Sheree (Fishhook), who lived nearby.  Helen was blessed with indescribable loving care from her private caregivers, the staff at Oak Hammock and Haven Hospice.  

Helen is predeceased by her parents, all her siblings and her husband.  She is survived by her two daughters, Lynetta Usher Griner (Ken), of Fanning Springs, and, Karen Usher White (Luke), of Chiefland, and her grandson, John Korey Griner, of Chiefland.

A graveside service will be held at Chiefland Cemetery on Tuesday, April 5, 2016, at 5:00 pm.  Family and friends will gather afterwards at the Usher River House in Fanning Springs for refreshments and fellowship.

If anyone wishes to make a memorial contribution in Helen's memory, the family suggests the Tommy Usher Memorial Scholarship, % Levy County Schools Foundation, P. O. Box 1386, Bronson, FL 32621.

Arrangements are under the direction of Knauff Funeral Home in Chiefland (352) 493-4777.