Helen McFarland Handy was the only child born to the union of Maude Holmes McFarland and Willis McFarland on January 15, 1921 in Chicago, Illinois. Helen confesses her faith and an early age and joined Greater Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church where her mother was a long-standing member who played a significant and historic role in providing financing to retire the Church’s mortgage in 1939.
After graduation from DuSable High School, Helen attended and received her associate’s degree from Woodrow Wilson Junior College in Chicago. It was at the college library where she met Joseph W. Handy, Jr. and their courtship began with his offers to walk her home after school each day. After their courtship, Helen and Joe were married on November 13, 1943 by Rev. Alfred Watts of Greater Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church. After many years of marriage, they welcomed their only child, Joseph W. Handy, III whom they affectionately nicknamed “Joey”. Helen was exceedingly proud when her husband, Joe, was appointed an Associate Judge in 1977.
Helen was a kindergarten teacher in the historic Rosenwald Apartments where she and her family resided for many years. Later, in addition to being a homemaker, Helen worked as a Supervisor of Proctors for in the Humanities Department at the University of Chicago.
For Decades, Helen was dedicated to providing service to her church and her community. At Greater Bethesda, she enjoyed serving alongside her mother and aunts who were also active in the church. In the year 1950 alone, Helen held various roles in Greater Bethesda, including Co-Chairperson of the Anniversary Committee, Chairperson of the memorial Historical Journal and member of the Hostess Committee Advisory Board. She also served as Secretary of the Usher Board for several years. She was a staunch supporter of the Greater Bethesda Breakfast Program Ministry whose mission is to provide physical and spiritual food to the homeless.
For over twenty years, Helen was a devoted member of the Worldwide Service Organization, Kiwanis, and served as Chairperson for its Kids Peanut Day Program raising funds to assist children with educational needs and illnesses. Helen was a very generous person and was dedicated for many years to providing service and significant financial support to Kiwanis.
Helen loved her family and often supported them in many ways. She adored her grandson, Joseph IV, and enjoyed spending time with him and hearing stories about his amazing athleticism and funny comments. Even when she became ill, Helen generously offered to take Joey, his wife, Veda, Joseph, and Veda’s mother on a Disney Cruise!
Helen was also an avid traveler. She enjoyed going on vacations and cruises with Judge Handy and their son and took Joey on a memorable multi state tour throughout New England when he was a youth. Over the years, Helen and Judge Handy visited many international destinations including Seoul, South Korea, Bangkok, Thailand, Paris, France, London, England and the Taj Mahal in India. Everyone who knew Helen would marvel at her fabulous, colorful and extensive wardrobe and jewelry collection. And oh boy did Helen love clothes! Helen was a woman of incredible grace and dignity.
On Friday, October 5, 2018. Helen, went peacefully home to be with the Lord as she held the hand of her devoted son, Joey. She leaves to cherish her memory one son, Joseph W. (Veda) Handy III, one grandson, Joseph W. Handy IV and several other relatives and friends, especially her beloved friend, Nancy McKeever.
Chicago, IL 60649
Chicago, IL 60637