Juneau resident Helen A. Mattson died from pneumonia on Aug. 29, 2008, in Juneau. She was 92.
Born April 11, 1916, at home in the family farmhouse near Napavine, Wash., she first came to Alaska in 1937 with her mother, Lena Downing, and sister, June Downing, to join her father, Harry Downing, in Anchorage.
From the mid-1940s to early-50s, she lived the life of a pioneer woman with her husband, Leo Kareen, and two young sons in the undeveloped Sand Lake area of Anchorage. She cooked on a wood stove by the light of a Coleman lantern and carried water from a small lake a quarter of a mile from the family home. The nearest neighbor was almost a mile away.
In 1935, she graduated from Highline High School in Burien, Wash. During her life, she worked as a waitress, counter clerk in the Sears Catalogue Sales Office and as an assistant manager in Anchorage before Sears opened any retail outlets in Alaska.
She left Alaska in 1966 due to the health of her second husband, William Mattson. When he died in 1991, she returned to Anchorage and resided there until joining her son in Juneau in 2006.
She was preceded in death by her husbands, Leo Kareen and William Mattson; son, Edward Kareen; grandson, Scott Kareen; and sister, June Newman.
She is survived by her son, Kenneth Kareen, of Juneau; daughter-in-law, Patricia Kareen, of Anchorage; granddaughters, Jodi Benham, of Anchorage, and Kelly English, of Dubuque, Iowa; six great-grandchildren, of Dubuque and Anchorage; and special Juneau friends, the Richard A. Smith family.
Services will be held in Anchorage at a later date.
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