Helen Mae Ream Bateman
1920 - 2021
Helen Mae Ream Bateman passed away peacefully in her home on June 6, 2021, moving on from this world into the awaiting arms of her beloved husband James LaVar. She passed away on his birthday, which must have been the best reunion present either could have hoped for. She was 101 years old.
Helen lived each of her years with passion, inspiration, creativity, and grace. She was an incredible example to all of us about how to experience beauty and adventure in life. Helen had faith to move mountains. She lived each day to the fullest. She was adored by her loving family, and friends from all over the world. Nana, as she was loving referred to by her 18 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren, was a brilliant light of energy and joy to all who knew her. She will be remembered for her kindness, vivacious spirit, her stunning smile, and the mischievous sparkle in her eye. Last year, at the age of 100, Nana wrote, "I love to sit, applique, and quilt while listening to music or watching a musical. I enjoy the view of the mountains and the birds eating freely from the bird feeders just out my window. My beautiful green room reminds me of LaVar and our tropical paradise honeymoon."
Nana was born in a log cabin in Dingle, Idaho in 1920, into a large family full of love. The Reams were tough and of pioneer stock. Her dad held the title of "Strongest Man in the West" and her mom was "five foot two, with eyes of blue," the belle of town. In her early years, Helen loved family fun, trips to Bear Lake, pets, cooking, hunting, and candy pulls. She loved adventures and said, "I love departure from routine. I find sameness deadly."
Nana loved to tell stories, and we loved to listen to them. Here is one. In the rugged Idaho hills, she sometimes saw coyotes and wolves, and once imagined what a mountain lion would do if it jumped on her and her horse, Bud. One day, as she was riding, she dug her finger nails into the horse's flank and screamed like a lion. Bud apparently didn't like surprise, and wildly bucked her off. When her brother finally found the petrified horse and returned, asking Helen why she would ever do something so careless, she replied, "I don't know, I just got tempted."
She learned to be resourceful at a young age, and her skills continued throughout her life. "If you can buy it in the store, you can make it at home," she frequently said. And she did. Her hand-dipped chocolates, meat pies, elaborate wedding cakes, hand-chiseled stone home, hand sewn prom gowns, and hundreds of embroidered quilts were all evidence of her creative, can-do spirit.
She married Lieutenant James LaVar Bateman and they became an amazing team. They complimented each other seamlessly-yin and yang, fire and ice, roots and wings. They eventually had five exceptional children: Kim, Shauna, Kathleen, Cindy, and Kyle. Each one added untold richness to the family. Creative in so many ways, Helen always said her kids were her ultimate masterpiece.
Nana lived her life as a teacher. She taught publicly at Montpelier High, Provo High, and BYU-also as a missionary, an author of books, and within her family. Based in their homemade oasis in Provo, the Batemans also traveled and lived all over the world. They resided in Wisconsin, Washington DC, Cuba, the Virgin Islands, Michigan, Guam, Maryland, Australia, Vietnam, and Hawaii. The couple also led many BYU study trips to places like Mexico and Europe, eventually becoming the directors of BYU's London study abroad program. The Batemans also loved to travel with family, in the US and abroad, usually packed into various Volkswagen campers.
Helen and LaVar were exemplar humanitarians. They loved to help people. They held countless callings in the LDS church, were active in the rotary club and other civic organizations, and helped sponsor many refugees or students from different places like Cambodia and Vietnam. Helen and LaVar may have set a world record for serving the most LDS missions. They led the Church Public Affairs office in Sydney, were the first missionaries allowed into Hanoi, served for 10 years at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, and completed another mission in Laie, Hawaii. After LaVar's death, Nana returned to Hawaii for four more missions at the Polynesian Cultural Center, helping people and embroidering quilts. She coincidentally timed these missions perfectly for Hawaiian weather during Utah's winters.
Nana's passing feels like the end of an incredible era. At 101, she is survived by few of her generation. She held the family together to the end. Her kids Kim (Linda), (Rick), Kathleen (Steve), Cindy (Peggy), and Kyle (Julee), as well as her grandchildren and great grandchildren will all miss Nana, but are comforted by her words, "when I've completed my work, I so look forward to reuniting with my family on my next journey." She was preceded in death by her beloved LaVar and beautiful daughter Shauna, also by her parents and siblings: Jean, Lane, Mary Ida, and Hazel Dawn.
A graveside service for family and close friends will be held at the South Jordan Cemetery at 10630 S. 1055 W. at 10 am on Thursday, June 10. This will be followed by an Open House at Helen's home at 1212 Ash Avenue in Provo from noon to 5 pm. All family, friends and neighbors are welcome.
Condolences can be sent to the family at www.premierfuneral.com. Helen would love to know that you donated to a humanitarian cause in her name.