HELEN LEE SUN
Helen Lee Sun, 99, died on February 28, 2023 in Colorado Springs, CO. She was born on December 10, 1923 in Astoria, OR to Sue You Howe and Edward Lee. She married Chugh Lai Sun in Portland, OR on June 5, 1949. They had three daughters — Marilyn, Barbara, and Debra.
An active born-again believer, Helen received Jesus as her Savior during a Billy Graham Crusade in Portland in September, 1950. Throughout her life she lived her faith, always mindful to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others and especially with her father and siblings.
English was Helen's second language since her mother was an immigrant from China. As a Cantonese-speaking 5-year-old, Helen cried and cried when she couldn't understand her teacher on the first day of kindergarten. Subsequently, an older cousin took Helen to church - to learn to speak English and to introduce her to Jesus as her Savior.
In high school, Helen was active in 4H Club in Astoria, OR, where she excelled in sewing, home-making, room improvement, canning, cooking and rose and flower garden projects. In 1940, Helen was the winner of the county's achievement and leadership contest, and as a result was chosen as the Outstanding 4-H Girl from Clatsop County. As one of 74 high school students from around the state, Helen won an all-expense paid, three-day trip to Portland to attend the Pacific International Livestock Exposition.
After high school graduation, Helen's aptitude for business administration began with her first job as a bookkeeper for Pacific Fruit. Her reputation for being a hard worker with attention to detail was noticed and celebrated throughout her professional career in Michigan and Mississippi. In 1992 Helen retired from Northwestern Mutual after 16 years as the district office manager. Insisting "work was a hobby," she hardly worked a day in her life.
As an adult, Helen's home church was the Chinese Bible Church in Detroit, and she was a faithful Sunday School teacher for elementary-age children. Mindful to present the gospel clearly to her students, she constantly looked for ways to engage them with each weekly lesson.
The library at the Chinese Bible Church was also a passion for Helen. She initiated the idea to open a library, researched the Dewey Decimal System and catalogued hundreds of books written in Chinese or English. Her motivation was to help church members grow in their faith.
For years Helen aspired to complete her college education. Juggling homemaking and a part-time job, she took one class at a time at a local community college. Finally in 1984, as an empty nester and years after all three daughters completed college, Helen graduated from Belhaven College in Jackson, MS, with a BA in Business Administration.
Creative, energetic, capable and friendly, Helen was well known for her smile, which lit up the room. She enjoyed being with her children and grandchildren often vacationing with them and encouraging their creativity. In times of need, she gave to her family selflessly through compassionate service and financial help.
Helen enjoyed listening to music, especially traditional hymns, and singing in the church choir. A voracious reader, Helen always had a book at hand; she especially enjoyed reading nonfiction-especially biographies of U.S. presidents' wives. And although she never returned to Astoria to live, she kept up with her hometown by reading the Astoria newspaper every day.
Although Helen frequently claimed that she “didn’t live to eat but rather ate to live,” she had her favorite foods that she could eat every day…and often would: Chinese food and apple pie. We’ll think fondly of her whenever we eat these two foods. :)
An easy-going personality, Helen adapted when Chugh’s employers moved the family from Oregon to California, Michigan and Mississippi. For the past 10 years, Helen lived with a daughter in Colorado.
Helen was preceded in death by her husband, Chugh, her daughter, Barbara, her granddaughter, Courtney, her son-in-law, Willy Yee and two great-grandchildren. She is survived by daughters, Marilyn Sun (Willy Yee) and Debra Sun (Robert Krumland), grandchildren Jonathan Yee, Caroline Yee (Dominic Piro), Christine Fredrikson (Jay Sparrow), Kate Fredrikson (Mike Windt), Kyle Fredrikson, Jamie Krumland (David Takahashi), David Krumland (Jenna), Nathan Krumland (Megan), and 9 great-grandchildren.
While we will miss our beloved Mom/Grandma/Pau-Pau, we are comforted knowing that she is in Heaven with her Savior, Jesus. Until we meet again, we will continue to live our lives in accordance with what she instilled in us — faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, JOY (Jesus, Others, You), and loving one another.
A memorial open house in Colorado Springs is April 1, 2-4pm, at the Krumland home. A memorial service in Detroit is April 22, 1pm, at the Chinese Bible Church.
In lieu of flowers, please contribute to the Alzheimer’s Association (https://act.alz.org) or to the Chinese Bible Church (https://www.cbcdetroit.org/offering) and designate it for “Elementary Sunday School Curriculum in honor of Helen Sun.”
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