Helen Hines

January 03, 1924 - September 16, 2023

Helen Hines

January 03, 1924 - September 16, 2023


Helen’s Obituary

A Celebration of Helen Hines

The model as Artist, The Artist as Model

Helen Adline Hines, 99, of Tulsa, OK peacefully departed the earth on Saturday, September 16th, 2023. Early that morning, the clouds lifted, and the hands of the almighty welcomed her home.

Helen was born in the great state of Missouri on January 3rd, 1924, to Elmer Franklin Hines (pastor and farmer) and Hattie Adline McCall (Homemaker). She was the youngest of six siblings. The family eventually moved and established roots in Tulsa, OK. After completing grade school, she began traveling and as with many other women in the 1940’s, landed a career as a welder on ships and in factories during World War II. The term “Rosie the Riveter” comes to mind. Several years later she continued her travel. Because Helen had always been influenced by, and possessed a passion for music and the arts, she became a professional dancer and singer in New York and in Chicago. She was eventually united with her first cousin, a famous jazz pianist, band leader and composer by the name of Earl “Fatha” Hines. She also met Count Basie and a few other wonderful musicians of that era.

Several years later, in the 1950’s, she moved back to Tulsa. She began working as a social worker and newspaper reporter for the Tulsa Eagle. In favor of her passion for the arts, she joined a group of musicians and sang Handel’s Messiah for many years during the Christmas season in addition to a variety of other events in Tulsa.  In the mid 1960’s, Helen had the privilege of meeting a well- known Oklahoma artist by the name of Delbert Jackson. One of his most cherished and famous works is a 13-foot by 56-foot mural entitled “Panorama of Petroleum”. Helen was a contributor to part of Jackson’s exhibit and portrayed a character in the piece. It is currently on display at the Tulsa International Airport’s baggage claim Lobby. Upon getting to know Mr. Jackson and developing a great friendship, he instructed Helen to pay a visit to The University of Tulsa’s art gallery and ask for Mr. Alexander Hogue. When Hogue discovered that Helen possessed such elegance, grace and poise, he immediately hired her as the principal figure model for the university of Tulsa’s school of art. This began her modeling career! This also led her to model at Holland Hall School in the 90’s and at Philbrook Museum.

During her career as a model, she met many genuine people and made wonderful close friendships that have lasted her a lifetime. (Their tributes to follow).

Helen leaves behind one great niece, Barbara Biree Wilson, two great nephews- Gene Biree, John Biree, and Kevin Harris, four great-great nephews Doug, Brian, Jon-LeMont, and Brandon, in addition to several surviving family members, spanning multiple generations and emphasizing the close relationships she shared with the ones she loved.

Helen has made a tremendous positive impact and has been a massive inspiration to hundreds of individuals throughout the course of her lifetime. In her many years on this earth, she was deeply committed to her faith and her beliefs in Christ Jesus. She will be forever missed but most importantly, never forgotten.


If you are unable to attend the service, we invite you to watch the service via live stream through the link below:



Tributes from family friends

Chuck Tomlins (Tulsa, OK) writes:

“Helen and I met in September 1966. I was teaching life modeling and she was already the model at the University of Tulsa art department. I never met anyone so dedicated to the art of modeling and I had a lot of models up to that point, but Helen was the best. I immediately took a great liking to her because she was so sweet, so accommodating, so genuine, and I have relished our friendship all those years. I can easily say that she was one of the most wonderful, gentle, kind and generous people that I have ever had the opportunity and the pleasure of meeting and being with over a great long period of time. Later, when Annie and I begin having children, we of course introduced David, Joseph, and William to Helen. They loved her like an aunt and referred to her as “Aunt Helen”, each and every one of the boys was devastated by the news of Helen’s passing, but they also knew that she’d had a long and wonderful life, yes it could’ve been better. And I can only hope that our friendship helped in making that life a good one. Helen is one of a kind. There are no other people on the face of this earth that I know of like her. I miss her. I love her, and I love the memory of our time spent together on this earth.” -Chuck

Matt Ridgeway (Livingston, Montana) writes:

“I met Helen Hines through my brother John – they shared a similar quality of big spirit. I think they met through the art dept at TU and became quick friends. John invited me to pick peaches with Bern (her sister) and Helen once and I immediately saw the spiritual and lighthearted connection they shared.

When John was burned in a house fire Christmas Eve 1996, Helen would often come to the critical care unit to pray and talk. This is where I got to know Helen. After John’s passing, I awoke one morning thinking about Helen and the art world that John and she shared. I had seen some of the sculptures she had created while visiting my first art teacher- Chuck Tomlins. I thought John would have wanted Helen to create a small lively hood from her art, so I offered to have her pieces cast and have an art exhibition at the University. This is where I met Barbara. Through the years while living in Texas and then Montana, I would come home to Tulsa occasionally, and would make a point to visit Helen. I would sit patiently, let her tell stories, and I would just listen. She was never afraid of talking….hahaha. I always felt as if I were there to honor John but also loved the big spirit and positive outlook Helen brought.

We have remained in touch and great friends ever since. I feel grateful to have been able to spend time with her last year.” -Matt Ridgeway

Maxine Richard (Tulsa, OK) writes: “A little less than 40 years ago I met Helen when she was a model, and I was a graduate student in the Life Drawing class at the University of Tulsa Art Department.

She was a model in so many ways. Helen had a place she could go. She had a way to get there. Inside her mind and body she found a sense of balance that was precise, natural, exquisite. She was an artist as a model.

She was a model friend. Her ability to give and receive with attention and grace was a wonder. We exchanged many gifts over the years. She gave me dates and pears and roses from her trees. I gave her iris and zinnias and tomatoes from my garden. No one could come close to her in the way she perceived even the most humble gift. She took her time. She looked carefully. She had a lovely way of moving her hands to describe the forms and scents of the things she saw. I wish I could do better describing my friend Helen. I am grateful to have felt the gift of her pure shining heart.” -Maxine


Rosalind Cook (Denver, CO) writes: “I had heard about Helen as being a wonderful model. When I taught a sculpture class at Philbrook in 2003, I requested Helen to be my model.  The class fell in love with her.  She was not only a beautiful and skilled model, but she projected a sense of peace and dignity. After that class, Helen came to my studio to sit for a portrait sculpture which I titled “A Study in Dignity”. A casting of that sculpture is a part of University of Tulsa’s art collection as Helen sat for MANY classes at the University of Tulsa and pursued art classes there.   That was the beginning of a friendship that has lasted 20 years.” -Roz



Memorial Service

  • Date & Time: October 13, 2023 (11:00 AM)
  • Venue: Butler-Stumpff & Dyer Funeral Home & Crematory
  • Location: 2103 E 3rd St Tulsa, OK 74104 - (Get Directions)

No Charities & Donations

No Gallery Photos

No Videos

3 responses to Helen Hines

  1. Barb,
    We send our love to you and “the boys” during this time of sorrow and celebration. Sorrow to know she isn’t physically with us anymore, but celebration she is forever with the Lord and will be dancing with the Angels where they have “the good cheese”. May the memories of her adventurous and joyful nature continue to inspire all of us that strive to be as amazing as she was on this earth!! With love and support always 💕

  2. My heart sank upon seeing Helen’s name in the obituaries of the Tulsa World on last Monday. I had been thinking of her and wondering if she was still with us. My goodness what a wonderful long life she had. My memories of her go back to 1968. I was an incoming freshman at TU,and I would see this petite, lovely little black lady, walking across the U nearly every day. She was always brightly dressed and carrying a large tote over one arm. It wasn’t until my second semester that I found out who she was when I enrolled in Life Drawing under the instruction of Carl Coker. I was so young and unprepared. When she came out onto the platform, she was wearing a beautiful kimono. I was preparing my newsprint pad, drawing board and getting my Conte crayons at the ready, while Mr. Coker told us that she would be making three five-minute poses and to capture them all on one sheet of newsprint. When I looked up, her kimono was gone. I had what seemed like a very long moment of hysterical blindness. I could not focus on her at all. I could tell
    everyone around me drawing away. I finally shook it off and was able to get at least one pose on paper. I came to love this class. I still have sketchbooks full of her images, as I am sure there are many former art students that went through the doors of Phillips Hall, all over this country, with images of the beautiful Helen Hines in sketchbooks stored away or, lovely images framed and on display. I think I could still draw her just from the memories stored in my mind’s eye. She was beautiful and perfect. She was singularly the most elegantly graceful person I have ever beheld. She would glide into every pose like silk. And it was not an easy job. She would often be sweating through her powders by the time her poses were finished. She was so gracious and complementing of the young artists as she would walk around and look at our efforts while she was taking her breaks. Years later, we crossed paths at Philbrook, where I was taking a class. She did not remember me, but she laughed heartily at my story about my first day in class so many years ago. What a treasure she was. I have never forgotten her, and I never will. Lynne Wilborn

  3. Debby Breckeen/Thomas Maier

    Thomas and I moved to Tulsa under difficult circumstances. We needed to heal.
    I first met John Ridgeway and he gave us much-needed shelter and quiet friend-ship. He introduced us to Helen, whose friendship was immediate and calming.
    Helen and Berne reminded me how to laugh again.
    Rest in peace, dear friends.

Leave A Condolence

Choose a Candle

Call Now Button