Memorial for Helen Chenoweth-Hage



October 4, 2006


I mourn the passing of one who has been, to me, a living legend. I have seen many eulogies and obits today and feel compelled to write down my own remembrances of someone who, in every sense of the word, was a Hero. The newspapers and Internet have quotes from colleagues and family using such terms as "fearless," "charming," "dedicated," "a firebrand," "a patriot," "amazing" and "gracious." All these descriptions seem to fall short, I guess, unless you add them all up into one word that no one seems to be able to come up with. If I may... the word now, is Angel.

I first met Helen Chenoweth when my girlfriend (now wife) used to babysit Megan and Mike in the late 60's. I remember thinking then, "What a beautiful and classy lady." She only became more so over the years. I was politically active beginning in college and heard about Helen several times over the years, mostly through my brother-in-law, Bill Jasper who also worked some for Steve Symms. I recall when Senator Symms was the keynote speaker at the Washington State Republican Convention in the early 80's, and when I looked her up she remembered my wife and said "It's great to see a Maniac again." I thought once more, "Wow, what a neat lady." (For those that don't know, The Maniacs are the high school mascot in Orofino, Idaho)

Over the years I saw Helen grow into a powerful and persuasive voice for conservative principles and Christian values. Since I lived out of the area for many years, I was never able to vote for her, but she became the measure, or benchmark, which I judged all other statesmen by. And I mean Statesman, too, with a capital S. She was able to navigate a political life where the Establishment and their big media partners found fault with her every move. And she did it with so much grace and charm that even her enemies and detractors admit her to be a "class act." My admiration for her grew tenfold when she stepped down after three terms like she said she would. That one decision showed to me the true strength of her character.

The last time we met was at the SRBA committee hearings in Boise last year. I was amazed again at her dedication to the people of Idaho and her commitment to justice. She came all the way from her lovely home in Nevada to speak out for the people of central Idaho. She didn't have to do that, but because it was the right thing to do, there was no question in her mind. "Wow," I said. "What an incredible and fascinating woman."

We were never close and I couldn't even begin to think that I was considered anything more than an acquaintance, but Helen was always so kind to me. I sure thought of her as a friend. She always asked about my mother-in-law whenever we spoke and, although she lived in Orofino only a few years, was always interested in our town. On the day my father-in-law, Morris Jasper died, she called Rusty and talked forever. She was always strongest in adversity. That was due to her faith in Jesus Christ. One of my proudest moments was when she endorsed my run for a political office here in Clearwater County. Since she had never given an endorsement before, you can't imagine how excited I was to receive her blessings. I know Skip Brandt felt the same way when she went all out for his bid for her old Congressional seat. She affected so many people in central Idaho. She affected so many people in the West, and the entire Nation. She will always be the poster-girl for true Patriots and Americanists.

But now, the Lord has seen fit to take her, and we are left with the memory of her beauty, her grace and charm, her dedication and all those other adjectives that seem to fit her personality and her values, but just can't seem to add up to the sum. Helen Chenoweth-Hage was a Legend and a Hero (not Heroine, I think we would all know the difference) and will be sorely missed by many. It will be difficult for some to go on without Helen and Wayne Hage. But I know now that those of us who believe in personal rights (and personal responsibilities), who work for individual freedom and strive for Christian values, all those of us who want a less intrusive and better representative government, we now have a Guardian Angel to watch us. With Helen's life and principles to guide us we need not fear any obstacle. As Helen said several years ago, "Never give in to fear. Remember, we're Americans. With God's help, we can restore freedom to our land." With Helen's inspiration, I intend to keep praying AND to keep fighting.


Dennis Fuller

Orofino, ID