OAK ISLAND — Helen Jo Cashwell – Born September 18, 1927, in Happy, Texas, passed away peacefully May 19, 2022, at home with her family at her side. She took her final journey as she had lived her life – with fight and determination. From the high plains of west Texas, she initiated her life path beginning with college and ending in retirement on Oak Island, North Carolina.
Taking the opportunity to test out for computer programming in the 1950s, she became a woman ahead of her time on two fronts: Married women were not working outside the home and certainly not in the field of computers, which was relegated to men at the time. She learned her skill well taking the chance to work with the airlines in the up-and-coming field of computerized reservations. Starting with Frontier Airlines in Denver, Colorado, she honed her skills giving her the opportunity to move to Kansas City, Missouri, to head up computer operations with TWA. As time marched on, she was offered a better position with Piedmont Airlines in North Carolina where she initiated and completed Piedmont’s computerized reservation system.
Prior to retiring, US Air had bought out Piedmont allowing her to continue her path with managing and over-seeing the computerized reservation system. However, retirement for most people means sitting on the porch passing the time away. Not for Helen. She was contacted by IBM to go to Germany to work on a reservation system there which she accepted. Upon returning to the United States and not wanting to be bored, she signed up with the program “Healing the Children” which took her to many third world countries to bring severely deformed and/or handicapped children to the US for medical intervention. Still her desire to contribute to society continued.
Getting to know her neighbors and making new friends on Oak Island sparked her to get involved in the community. This included the need to not only participate in politics but to run for Oak Island City Council serving more than one term and subsequently running for and getting elected as Mayor. As Malcolm’s health declined, so did her involvement with government. Prior to his passing, they traveled the world not only by plane but also taking a cruise around the world. As she has told her family and friends, that was one of the best things they ever did.
Always wanting to control every aspect of her life, she did the same with the cancer that she fought. Even though she chose not to accept treatment as she felt quality of life out ranked quantity (she was 94), at no time did she complain or accept sympathy from anyone. She greeted all with a smile and a bright inquiry as to how the other person was doing, never letting on to her own plight. She will be missed by all.
Helen Cashwell was predeceased by her parents Joe and Ora Cox of Canyon, Texas; her husband Malcolm Cashwell of Oak Island, North Carolina; her grandson Brett Rutherford of Tavares, Florida; and most recently her son-in-law Paul Jepson of Grand Prairie, Texas. She is survived by her daughters Karen Rohrssen of Crossroads, Texas, and Vicki Jepson of Grand Prairie, Texas, and her granddaughter Scarlette Rohrssen of Crossroads, Texas, as well as her extended in-laws, nieces, and nephews.
A Memorial Service will be held on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, at 3:00 PM, in the Cape Fear Chapel of at Peacock-Newnam and White Funeral and Cremation Service, 1411 North Howe Street, Southport, NC 28461 (910) 457-6944