Helen Myers

Published 12:03 am Sunday, November 18, 2012

Helen Myers, who built a small florist shop into a household name in Washington, N.C., passed away on November 15, 2012 at the age of 93.  She is remembered by family and friends as a generous and creative soul whose love for her flowers and her gardening was surpassed only by her love for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Born Helen Josephine Davis on June 14, 1919, she was the youngest of nine children in the Beaufort County farming family of Joseph John Davis and Sallie Oden Campbell Davis.  Losing her father at an early age and the daughter in a family of almost grown children, she was raised largely by three of her sisters – Emma Davis Gordineer, Lillian Davis Leggett, and Carrie Davis Johnson.

Her hardscrabble childhood may have helped create her famously independent, nothing-is-impossible approach to life.  It was an 18-year old Helen Davis, fresh out of high school in 1937, who took her first job as a bookkeeper at Woolworth’s department store in downtown Washington, N.C.  In 1943, as the nation was deep into the second World War, she was promoted to store manager – a rarity even in a wartime era of expanding roles for women in the workplace.

That experience may have sparked the self confidence that propelled her into a lifetime of entrepreneurship — including J.MarSal’s, a women’s apparel shop on the Washington waterfront in the 1970’s; and Korner Kupboard, a shopping mall restaurant in the 1980’s.

But none were as dear to her as the business that started it all: Myers Florist.

Helen Davis married John Gray Blount Myers in 1944, and the next year they opened a small flower shop in a small back room of the family home on the corner of Main and Harvey streets.  Myers Florist quickly became known by locals as the place to go for everything from special arrangements to simple bouquets.  It was a family business, but Helen Myers was its singular guiding force.

And it was because of her that Myers Florist became a local institution, thriving for a remarkable 64-years between 1945 and 2009.

John Myers died in 1984, but Helen faithfully continued on, working nights, weekends, and holidays to design what were surely tens of thousands of flower arrangements.  The tiny shop was always filled with the smell of fresh cut flowers and the sound of her laughter.

Her devotion to the shop was well known, but it paled in comparison to her love of family.  Showering three generations of children with unconditional love, she was the true guiding force in their lives.  From her famous fried chicken to original oil painting gifts and lounge chair snuggles, Helen Myers gave her heart and soul to a family that was blessed to have her for so many years.

Helen Myers is survived by her children, John Gray Blount Myers, III, of Manteo, N.C. and Sally Elizabeth Myers Pruden, of Washington, N.C.; daughter-in-law, Jacqueline Cox Myers of Kill Devil Hills, N.C.; and son-in-law, Ronald Vincent of Greenville, N.C.  Her daughter, Marcia Helen Myers Vincent, preceded her in death in July 2003.

She is also survived by her five grandchildren, John Gray Blount Myers, IV, of Sacramento, Calif.; Kathryn Vincent Leonard, of Centreville, Va.; Elizabeth Vincent Bauer, of Greenville, N.C.; Nancy Myers Eddins, of Charlotte, N.C.; and Elizabeth Grizell Pruden, of Kill Devil Hills, N.C.; and by seven great-grandchildren.  All of them knew her as their beloved “Noo-Noo.”

In her later years, she relied on the loving friendship of Ann Ross and Charles “Fluffy” Bowen, Jackie Tyndall, all of Washington.  And that’s to say nothing of dozens of other dear friends, the final care of nurses and staff at River Trace Nursing Center, and a community that knew her best by the simple beauty she delivered in vases and corsages for decades.

You may share a memory with the family by visiting www.hillsidefuneralservice.com

Hillside Funeral Service & Cremations, 4500 Hwy 264 E, Washington, NC has been given the honor of being entrusted with serving the Myers family.