Dedicated volunteer and former social worker Helen Daniels died Sept. 28 at age 85 of metastatic cancer.
She was born in Brookline, Mass., and was the only child of Joseph Ettinger and Eva Frutman. After her mother's death when she was 6 years old, she was raised by her father, aunt and grandparents.
She remained in the Boston area through college at Wellesley and her marriage to her late husband, Everett, 63 years ago. In 1952, the couple moved across the country to Los Angeles, had two children and built a home in Brentwood, where they lived for more than 20 years. Helen and Everett eventually moved to Laurel Canyon, where she lived for the next 30 years.
After Everett died 11 years ago, Helen continued all her good works. In 2001 she met Jack Atkins, who died in February 2007.
During her funeral, Rabbi John Rosove of Temple Israel of Hollywood made the following observations about Daniels' life:
"Helen was a gutsy lady. As a young girl and woman Helen never allowed convention to stand in her way. She got a paying job as a Los Angeles County social worker, and because of her affability, intelligence and work ethic she quickly moved up the ranks, applied for a promotion to an administrative position and was told flatly by the interviewer, 'No woman has ever had this position before.' But you guessed it, Helen got the job anyway.
"She went wherever she wanted to go, whether anyone had been there before or not. At graduation from college, Helen interviewed for a job as a stockbroker, even knowing that brokerage firms weren't hiring women professionals, and still women are in the minority.
"She was active from an early age in the League of Women Voters and eventually rose to become the vice president. In that role she professionalized the organization's activities and she convinced local utilities to include league literature in their billing notices, urging people to register to vote.
"After Everett's death, Helen endowed [Temple Israel of Hollywood's] Everett Daniels Back to Basics Jewish education course because she and Everett so believed in the importance of education. She got personally involved in all the classes over the years and made many new friends of the teachers and students alike.
"In a word, Helen's was a full, engaged, exciting, interesting and, most importantly, a significant life. She is one of those people who I sense had much less t'shuvah to perform each year than most of us, for she was one of those remarkable women whose heart, ethics, will, kindness, generosity, humility and gratitude for all the gifts of which she was blessed defined her."
She is survived by her son, Stephen (Maygene); daughter, Eve (Jerry) Lerman; four grandchildren; and stepsister, Judy. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for contributions to be made to Temple Israel of Hollywood, 7300 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90046.
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