Helen Hendee (BA, Sociology '70)
A True Friend
Helen’s Tenure Stressed Relationship-Building
The Arsenal Oak, the Teardrop, the Quadrangle, the Blanchard Fountain—these are just some of the threads inextricably woven into the fabric of university life on the Summerville Campus. And even though the Arsenal Oak no longer stands and the Teardrop has been rebuilt in a new location, these images live on in the minds and hearts of so many. So it is with Helen Hendee.
Prior to retiring in April, Helen had a long and distinguished career at Augusta State University as Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations. It was in this role that I first met Helen. I had been asked by a board member to serve on the Alumni Association board and had agreed to do so. Helen quickly followed up with a phone call and welcomed me into the fold. I have felt welcomed ever since.
Helen has a way of putting people at ease right away with her ever-present and infectious smile, warmth, and sincere Southern hospitality. But make no mistake; behind that genteel demeanor is a person who is passionate about many things. She works tirelessly on behalf of those things she loves—and it is evident that she loves the university, its students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
Helen, uniquely gifted at building relationships, made genuine friends during her 30 years of service. She motivates and inspires others to take part in the exciting things happening at their alma mater. She is driven and goal-oriented, to be sure—creating the “A Day” annual campaign, which has raised more than $8 million since its inception and boasts 90 percent employee participation. Helen also raised multimillion-dollar gifts.
But that is not what she would personally choose to highlight.
If you ask Helen, and I did, she will tell you very quickly that her business is all about relationships. She genuinely cares about people. And she wants them to love the university just as she does—with passion, commitment, and dedication.
In addition to the university, Helen has given tirelessly to other community organizations. She and her family have a long and storied history of service to the Family Y and to the YWCA before it; she is a Leadership Augusta alum, a member of the Augusta Rotary Club, and a founding member of Women in Philanthropy—to name just a few of her affiliations. She also helped launch the Georgia Education Advancement Council, a consortium of advancement, marketing, and public relations professionals. Helen received the 2012 GEAC Lifetime Achievement Award, having been nominated by 16 of her then-current and former colleagues.
Helen walks the walk. And others follow. During her career, Helen mentored and guided her employees and introduced them to the intrinsic rewards of a career in philanthropy. Many of these employees are still in the Advancement field and, like her, are active members of the community.
I like to think that, in retirement, Helen will continue to rescue stray dogs (they always seem to cross her path), to vacation regularly with friends (some of whom she met as far back as elementary school), and to continue to enjoy her hobbies of boating, swimming, gardening, and woodworking.
But we know that no matter how close by she is or how far she travels, she will be among us, for a true friend never says goodbye. Helen is a true friend.
Written by Phil Wahl (’87)