Serving the community since 1922

Shafter mourns the loss of Helen Gaede

Helen Gaede passed away recently, leaving the city without one of its treasures.

Gaede was beloved by so many in town, touching lives throughout her life. Gaede moved to Shafter in 1968, coming with her husband, Dennis, a Shafter native. Gaede was always active in her church, the Shafter Mennonite Brethren Church, eventually getting involved in the Shafter Kiddie Kollege in 1972, where she worked as a Teachers Aide. Gaede continued her education and became program director. She joined the church 1969, where she was a Sunday School teacher and Awana leader. Gaede served as director of the Kiddie Kollege until her retirement in 2022.

Among Gaede's achievements, in addition to shaping many lives throughout her career, was receiving the Christian Education Service award in 1977 and being given the Education Award by the Shafter Chamber of Commerce in 2017.

Gaede had a special relationship with the kids, as well as her fellow staff members, giving them a positive role model to follow. Ariel Smith, a teacher at the school, said that Gaede has taught her so much while working with her. "I was a student teacher under her while I was going to school to get my degree. She has taught me how to remain calm, and communicate with the kids with a patience that is not taught in regular classes."

At the time of her retirement, Gaede said that she would miss the children the most. "I love them so much; this will be the hardest part of retiring." She said that she would use the time after retirement to maybe do some traveling, as well as catch up on some things at the house that needed attention. "I will also maybe do a little volunteer work."

This statement is a little misleading because Gaede already had filled her spare time with a variety of volunteer activities, including being president of the Shafter Historical Society. She was involved in helping her community in many ways. Shafter will miss Helen Gaede for her tireless service to the community, but more importantly, her example as a person with heart, passion and caring. Karina Salazar, staff member at the Shafter Kiddie Kollege, added to the praise for Gaede. "I learned so much from Helen. She taught me how to be more caring and loving to the children. She also taught me how important it is to be patient, kind and caring. I will miss her so much."


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