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
- 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)