Helen Hockabout Kelley

Helen Hockabout Kelley

July 23, 1938 – October 12, 2020


Born to Dale and Winifred Hockabout in Council Bluffs, IA.

Helen’s commitment to excellence began at an early age.  Taught to play the piano by ear, she became an accomplished pianist by age 14.  She played beautifully throughout and until her end of life.  From Christmas Carols to Concerto’s, she could play them all – mostly from memory.

Graduating from Omaha Central High School in May of 1956, Helen’s drive for leadership became an integral part of her life early and often.  Her early achievements include: President of the Student Council Omaha Central High School 1956, Miss Central 1956, University of Nebraska at Lincoln Homecoming Queen 1958, Kappa Alpha Theta President Rho Chapter 1959-60, Phi Beta Kappa and recently inducted into the Central High School Hall of Fame.

After college she married her high school sweetheart Dick Kelley in June of 1960.

Helen took her talents to the classroom at Westside High School teaching English Literature for 4 years.  She made an indelible impression on her students many of whom still note how much they loved her class nearly 60 years ago.

She left the classroom to raise the couple’s family, but her leadership interests continued long into her adulthood.  Helen was a passionate contributor to her community taking on many projects for organizations including Rockbrook Elementary School, Junior League of Omaha, Aksarben Coronation Ball Committee, Omaha Symphony, Omaha Public Library, Joslyn Art Museum and more.

In 1985 she ran for and won a seat on the Westside Community Schools Board of Education.  She fulfilled 2 six year terms and one additional for an ailing board member.  A child’s education was of utmost importance to Helen.  She served in leadership roles for Westside Schools, the Nebraska School Board Association and the National School Board Association.  This time in her life included a testimony for a hearing at the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

More than anything, Helen loved her family and friends.  A devoted wife to Dick of 61 years, together they raised Allyson, Beth and Rick and many dogs including their current Wheaton Terrier named Yogi.  She enjoyed traveling with Dick, many dear friends and family.  Paris and the Amalfi Coast were at the top of her list.

Later in life, Helen developed Alzheimer’s Disease.  However, she never lost her love for the piano and her family, especially her 7 grandchildren.  She played the piano to end bringing herself comfort and joy to her family.

Helen was preceded in death by her parents, Winifred Steele Hockabout and Dale Hockabout.

She is survived by her husband, Dick; daughters, Allyson (Gamble) Baffert, and Beth (Jerry) Smith; and son, Rick (Nicole) Kelley; grandchildren: Gamble Baffert II, Remy Baffert, Addison Baffert, Jack Smith, Paige Smith, Whitney Kelley and Carson Kelley; and beloved caretaker, Annie Smith.

Private Family Service.  Memorials directed to: Westside Community Schools Foundation, Omaha Central High Foundation, Omaha Symphony or Alzheimer’s Association of Nebraska.




  • Murray Newman Posted October 13, 2020 8:37 pm

    Helen was a remarkable women with many talents. Makes one wonder why a person such as Helen must leave this world when so many lesser remain. A void will long last where Helen once stood. Dick….Sharee and I are so sorry for your loss.

  • jamie shapiro Posted October 14, 2020 8:58 am

    I offer my condolences to Dick and his family. I have had only one short meeting with Helen on a ski slope somewhere since we graduated from Central High School in 1956. She was a person of many talents, but her endearing qualities for me that I remember to this day were the warmth and caring in every personal encounter.

    Love to all,


  • James Kayser Posted October 14, 2020 11:31 am

    At Central HS it was a “wow” moment for me when Helen played Rhapsody in Blue as part of a piano duet for the Roadshow. Whenever I hear that tune, I still think of that first time I heard it and smile. My condolences to you, Dick, and your family for the loss of this kind and talented woman.

  • John Crook Posted October 20, 2020 11:30 am

    Helen was truly a beautiful human being! Always kind and supportive. Helen cared deeply about education and was an outstanding School Board Member! Her opinions were valued by all. Helen left a lasting footprint on the Westside Community Schools! Respectfully submitted, John crook

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