April 18, 1919 — Oct. 30, 2017
Helen Hummer of Corvallis, formerly of Bethesda, Maryland, died on 30 October 2017. Helen was a master swimmer, yoga instructor, and tennis player. She was beloved by and an inspiration to all. She was born as Ilona Forizs, in Springdale, Pennsylvania, the fifth child of eight. Her Hungarian-American parents, Ignatz Forizs and Emilia Farkas, immigrated through Ellis Island. Ilona was born on 18 April 1919, just after her twin sister, Ethel. Her name was Anglicized to Helen Forges, and in 1947, she became Helen Forges Hummer upon marrying her sweetheart, George Henry Hummer of Washington, D.C.
Helen had vivid and fond memories of her family’s Pennsylvania farm where her father raised vegetables and a cow, and her mother made bread and noodles daily. During the depression, the family ate onions (one of Helen’s favorite foods) and bartered milk, cheese, and vegetables. She attended one year at Slippery Rock State Teachers College, but in 1942, with limited resources, she became a die-drafter at the Aluminum Company for the war effort. In 1945, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she was hired at the Washington Post Newspaper and met George Hummer. George and Helen were married in 1947. Their only child, Kim, was born in 1952. Helen was an excellent seamstress sewing new outfits for her daughter each week. She made elaborate Halloween costumes and upholstered furniture. She was famous for her Hungarian cooking including stuffed cabbage and chocolate cake (Dobos torte). She also taught swimming to disadvantaged individuals and was a Girl Scout Troup leader.
She returned to work in 1962, becoming a secretary and then librarian in the civilian service for the Army Map Service (Army Topographic Command) in Bethesda, Maryland. Her husband George died in 1970. She remained employed to see her daughter through college, and began to pursue personal activities. She became a charter member of the D.C. Masters Swim Club. She competed widely, winning many medals, trophies, and 7 U.S. national records in her championship career. Her favorite stroke was butterfly but she also swam backstroke and freestyle. In tennis, she played non-competitive club level in the D.C. area.
She trained in yoga beginning in the 1960s, and became certified as instructor in several styles. She explored “chi” through many eastern arts, and was very conscious of healthful eating. She became macrobiotic in 1978, and underwent annual fasts. She was an expert masseuse. She was raised in the Hungarian Reform Church (Presbyterian) but as an elder attended many denominations of Bible study classes. She is survived by her youngest sister, Florence Forizs, her daughter, Kim E. Hummer, four grandsons, Charles R. Hand, Paul E. Hand, Michael J. Hand, and Kevin R. Hand, and a great-granddaughter, Zinnia M. Hand. A celebration of life service is planned at 3 p.m., December 2 in Corvallis. In memory of Helen, please stand tall, exercise, and when possible, contribute to the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation, your local school, or the educational foundation of your choice.