Obituary: Helen Strow

Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, January 1, 1999 | Go to article overview

Obituary: Helen Strow


Helen Strow (July 28, 1904 - Feburary 8, 1999)

Helen Strow served in the government and the public sector nationally and internationally, spanning a 60-year period. She was a resident of Washington for over 35 years and an Extension professional and long time champion of the International dimensions of the profession. Ms. Strow was recognized throughout many parts of the world as the person in the United States who cared about Home Economics. For more than 60 years, she was an educator-working at USDA as an international Extension Specialist (19561974) and as an international coordinator for the American Home Economics Association (AHEA) 1976-1989. Her work took her to assignments in more than 20 countries mainly in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Her USDA work expanded when newly independent countries requested teaching materials for improvement in the home, nutrition, food preservation, sanitation, and gardening. Many practical teaching method materials were developed, among them a book entitled "Homemaking Handbook" with chapters on gardening, chicken raising and feeding the family, produced by specialists in each field. Many of her Extension teaching materials and bulletins developed with others were translated into Spanish, French, Korean, Arabic, and Chinese.

Helen Strow had a vision for international home economics at USDA and AHEA (now identified as the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences) which led to an international effort through project initiatives and proposal funded by the US Agency for International Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations Fund for Women, UNFDA, UNICEF and the Population Crisis Committee, The Hewlett Foundation and the Church World Service.

Helen's work expanded from improvement in the home to community development programs for women and families, to income generation programs and training for "school leavers".

During WW II, (1943) she sailed to Europe on a US troop ship and served as a Club Director of Red Cross Volunteers in Europe (1943-1948). At the end of the war, she moved to Germany as a consultant, at the request of the US State Department, to the Marshall Plan program to provide assistance in Agriculture and Home Economics Extension.

Helen received many honors, among them: The Helen Strow International program Fund established at the Ohio State University, College of Human Ecology in 1996. The AHEA (AAFCS) Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Profession was awarded in 1994.

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