1927 – 2013

Mavis EppesHelen Ruth Harden, born on January 10, 1927, went home to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on April 8, 2013 at the age of 86. She was an incredibly remarkable woman and left a legacy of joy. Helen was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and moved to Dallas as a young child with her three brothers and two sisters. Upon graduation from high school, Helen was employed at AT&T for 3 years.

Helen moved out to the “country” and became a longtime resident of Lancaster, Texas in 1947 where she began building her home one room at time. She shared her home with her dear friend, Rose Kamper until Rose passed in 1998. Upon Rose’s death her daughter, Erlynn Kamper Cantwell, became Helen’s housemate until her death in 2010.

At the age of 23, Helen proudly enlisted in the United States Marine Corps to serve her country during the Korean Conflict and achieved the rank of Sergeant, as an Instructor-Link Trainer, 1950-1952.

Upon returning to Lancaster, Helen was employed by the Frito Company (now PepsiCo Frito-Lay, Inc.) and began what would become a very successful career in records management. Helen would spend the next 33 years at Frito, retiring in 1986. In the early days at Frito she studied business textbooks from the public library to gain knowledge of corporate operations. While at Frito, she designed, developed, implemented, and directed the corporate records management program, wrote policy and procedure manuals for each phase: active records, records storage, micrographics, records retention schedules, and vital records. She traveled throughout the US for Frito to monitor the records departments at their many locations.

One of Helen’s proudest professional achievements was membership in ARMA. In 1959 Helen joined what was then called the American Records Management Association as a member-at-large. In 1964 she co-founded the Dallas chapter and became the first President. In 1972, she became the National President of the ARMA and served as chairman of the annual conference. Helen was instrumental in negotiating the merger between the American Records Management Association and the Association of Records Executives and Administrators (AREA) to form ARMA, International In 1975, she was the 9th recipient of the Emmett Leahy Award for her innovative work at Frito.

Helen was involved with the formation on the Institute of Certified Records Mangers and in 1976 received the Certified Records Manager designation though the grandfather clause. In 1982, Helen served as President of the Institute of Certified Record Managers. Helen was a speaker on records management at various meetings, workshops and seminars throughout the years. During her years on the ARMA national board she presented sessions to 30 chapters and once arrived at a chapter seminar to find no other speakers and she conducted the entire program. She was active up to the end, mentoring CRM candidates and teaching anyone that would listen (including the nurses at the hospital) about the importance of records management. From 1986-1989, she taught courses at Cedar Valley College in Lancaster, TX on Records Management, Administrative Management and Texas City Records Management.

In 2006, she was inducted into the ARMA, International Company of Fellows (FAI) as Fellow #40. After retirement from Frito, Helen did consulting as Helen R. Harden Company, Inc. for many years. From 1990-1992, Helen worked as a Land Acquisition Representative for Universal Field Services, Inc. (a right of way company) for the Super Collider project.

In 1993, at the age of 66, Helen graduated from Cedar Valley College with an Associate of Applied Science degree. Helen was also active in the Lancaster city government, served on many committees including the Economic Development Committee and at one time ran for the office of Mayor. She was a member of the Fresh Anointing Worship Center where she taught a weekly bible study class.

Helen was preceded in death by her parents and siblings. Helen Ruth Harden, CRM, FAI was buried at the DFW National Cemetery on Friday, April 12, 2013, with Military Honors. She will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved her.

Friends and associates of Helen R. Harden, CRM, FAI, are encouraged to contact the Foundation Administrator to add information to this record.

Her family and friends have requested that donations be made to: ARMA International Educational Foundation, 1609 Terrie Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15241.

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