Helen McCuish Oltman, 105, of Kalona, formerly of Newton and Riley, died peacefully April 28, 2009, at Pleasantview Home.


Helen McCuish Oltman, 105, of Kalona, formerly of Newton and Riley, died peacefully April 28, 2009, at Pleasantview Home.

The oldest of three children, Helen Katherine McCuish was born in 1903 in Leadville, Colo. Her father, a Scotsman from Nova Scotia, was a Presbyterian minister, and her mother, of English ancestry, was a teacher in a girlsí school in Utah. Helenís father, the Rev. John B. McCuish, was pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Newton from 1909 to 1915.

When Helen was 12, both her parents died, and her Aunt Katherine from Boston came to raise the three McCuish children in Newton.

Helen met her husband, Ted, at Park College in Missouri, but they delayed marriage plans until finishing their professional training. They were married in 1927, after Helenís graduation from nursing school and Tedís last year of medical school. In 1930, after the birth of their first daughter, Peggy, they traveled to Amoy (now Xiamen), China, as medical missionaries for the Reformed Churches of America.

In 1941, Helen and the three children returned to Newton, where Ted joined them after being released from Japanese prisoner of war status for 10 months.

After World War II, Helen and Ted returned to China to continue medical work until Communist Chinese officials expelled them in 1950. They set up a rural medical practice in Riley until 1989, when Helen moved to Kalona.

Helen was an active member of Riley Presbyterian Church, the Riley Chapter of the County Extension Home Education unit, a Neighborhood Club, P.E.O., a Great Books Discussion Group, United Presbyterian Women and served as office nurse and bookkeeper for her husbandís medical practice. She also organized volunteer activities for the Leonardville Nursing Home and helped serve congregate meals in Riley.

Helen is survived by two daughters, Margaret (Peggy) Bailey of Rochester, Minn., and Katherine and husband, Robert Cook, of rural Riverside, Iowa; five grandchildren, Kathie Bailey of Minneapolis, Minn., Ellen Warner and husband, Geoffrey, of Rochester, Minn., Douglas Cook and wife, Teresa, of New Madison, Ohio, Lisa Scranton and husband, Alec, of Coralville, Iowa, and Beatrice Boltz of Iowa City, Iowa; and six great-grandchildren, Sarah Warner, Gregg, Audrey and Elizabeth Scranton, and Alexis and Lawson Cook.

Helen was preceded in death by her husband; two sons, Robert and John; her brother and sister, John McCuish and Anna Margaret McCuish; and one grandson, Mark T. Cook.

Helen was buried on July 17, 2009, at Greenwood Cemetery in Newton, with the Rev. Jim Anderson leading a graveside memorial service.

Memorial contributions are designated for Heifer Project International, the Sharon Center United Methodist Church or Iowa City Hospice.