DeGolian, Helen


Helen Dufour Rathbone deGolian died peacefully on Sunday, March 13, 2022, just as she would have wished, surrounded by her children. The proud mother of 14, grandmother of 37, and at last count, great-grandmother of 26, she was the epitome of grace and patience.

Helen was the first of two daughters born to Wofford Robert Rathbone of Cuero, Texas and Helen McLeary Dufour of New Orleans. She was born in New Orleans on April 29, 1920 and lived there until age 12, when her family moved to Austin, Texas. Smart as a whip, she skipped two grades in elementary school and at age 16, enrolled at the University of Texas, where she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and was elected to the Bluebonnet Court.

As a young woman, Helen traveled extensively with her grandmother, Helen King McLeary Dufour. They took a trip to La Jolla, California in 1937, where she met Felix Eugene deGolian, Jr. of Atlanta, a newly commissioned naval officer just out of the U.S. Naval Academy. They began a long-distance courtship.

Helen married him in November of 1940 and their grand adventure began. Their first child, Felix III, was born November 6, 1941, just a month before the attack on Pearl Harbor and the start of World War II. Felix was called back into active Naval duty shortly thereafter and served for the duration of the war.

With their separation, Helen and Felix were concerned that Felix III would be an only child, and indeed nicknamed him "Lonesome Polecat." They worried needlessly.

Child number two, Helen Rathbone deGolian, was born in April 1944. Following that, in regular succession every 18 to 24 months, Helen and Felix would welcome another child into the world, 14 in all, 8 sons and 6 daughters. The deGolian household was a sprawling one filled with the chaos of many children, Felix's booming laughter and the rock solid, calming presence of Helen.

Every son played Buckhead Little League baseball. All of the children, sons and daughters, participated in various sports, cheerleading and other activities at Christ the King School, Marist School and St. Pius X High School. Through it all, Helen was there cheering her sons and daughters on.

After her children were grown and out of the nest, Helen obtained her real estate license and began a career in residential real estate. She surprised herself with her success, growing with confidence into an accomplished businesswoman.

At the center of Helen's life was her Catholic faith. Through every struggle and triumph, she turned to God with gratitude. If her faith waivered, she never showed it. The example she set of faith, perseverance and love was the guidepost for all of her extended family. She was a quiet and steady comforter, always available for a quick visit or a long stay. She gave all of her children room to grow, grieve, laugh or cry and emerge healed, ready to face the world again. She had a special talent to make everyone who met her feel special and loved. She was an extraordinary mother to her immediate and extended family and always a lady.

In recent years, Helen resided at The Piedmont at Buckhead. The family is grateful for the loving care she received there, especially from her personal caregivers Regina White, Diane Small, Meka Oriental and Gillian Harding McLeod.

Helen is survived by 13 of her 14 children: Felix Eugene deGolian, III, Helen deGolian Neely, Robert Rathbone deGolian, Angelique deGolian White, William Dufour deGolian, Jonathan Mann deGolian, Regina deGolian Savakus, Michael King deGolian, Lucy deGolian Marshall, George Putnam deGolian, Peter Cyprien deGolian, Ann deGolian Freeman and Andrew Roch deGolian, as well as her sons and daughters in law, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband Felix, her daughter Marie Elise deGolian Sullivan, and her sister Beryl Schroeder.

Her funeral will take place on Friday, March 18 at 2:00 PM at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 4465 Northside Drive NW, Atlanta, GA. Funeral arrangements are through H. M. Patterson and Son, Oglethorpe Hill.

Donations in her honor may be made to Holy Spirit Catholic Church or to the Saint Vincent dePaul Society, 2050-C Chamblee Tucker Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30341.

Funeral Home Information

H.M. Patterson & Son-Oglethorpe Hill Chapel

4550 Peachtree Road Ne

Atlanta, GA