The Hellhole

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Word From the Boss

Helly worked for her boss, Sandy Jones, pretty much her entire adult working life - just over 27 years. I think at one point she was a cashier at the local Kroger, and during college she worked at Neiman Marcus over the Christmas holidays wrapping presents, but those were just high school or temporary jobs. After college she took a job as an admin assistant at an advertising company here in Conyers, and was assigned to work for Sandy. When he left to form his own company several years later, Helly followed him as soon as she could. They had a very close relationship, and Helly often referred to him as “The World’s Greatest Boss.” Sandy and Helly were very loyal to each other, and Sandy was there and standing by her bedside when Helly passed from this world. 

When the details for the memorial service were being put together, I reached out to Sandy to ask if he’d say a few words. He was of course more than willing, and gave a great eulogy, the kind that only someone who knew her as well as he did could give:

Essence of Helly Bowman

Helly Bowman was a friend, confidant, loyal, wonderfully unique, funny, talented, snarky, eccentric, weird, unorthodox and beautiful human being, with whom I had the privilege to work with for over 27 years, sharing in my marriage to Leigh, the birth of our girls, Aubrey and Annie, the death of my mother, father, younger brother, Tim and a business partner and friend Don Hall.

More importantly, she was family.

Little known facts about Helly are that she had a master’s degree, wrote a book, played lead guitar in a punk rock band, had tattoos and probably piercings that I was not aware of.

She was a combination of Mimi of the Drew Carey Show, Thoreau, Edgar Allen Poe and Will Rogers.

She and I were the quintessential yin and yang, meaning we were seemingly opposite, yet complementary, interconnected and made each other and outcomes better when we worked together. We were of like mind in our conclusions, but always by differing paths.

Our journey began in 1989 when she and Ann Bryant were simultaneously hired at US Enterprises.Arbitrarily, Ann was assigned to work with Robert Jackson in Real Estate and Helly was assigned to work with me in the billboard company. And so our journey began.

After I left Corey in 1994, Helly was the first person I hired when our journey at Jones and Hall Ventures, Mahalo Works, Mahalo Marketing and Business Traveler Services began.

About ten years ago, Alan and Helly were married. In traditional shock and awe fashion. Helly and Alan surprised the guests when they cut the wedding cake dressed like Shrek and Fiona in celebration of having seen the Shrek movie on their first date.

By the way, additionally Helly was wearing a beautiful flowing white wedding dress with white patent leather combat boots. Don’t ask me why! That was just Helly being Helly.

Another aspect of Helly was her constant Hellyism as we called them.
Let me put this in perspective. As many of you know, I married Leigh of the Lockridge clan and was quickly introduced to Lockridgeisms. One example was an occasion in which Papa, Leigh’s Dad was proudly delivering a car to Leigh’s brother Frank who lived in a dorm at Auburn. While entering the dorm to surprise Frank, the Lockridge family noticed a huge front-end loader moving tons of dirt and rock around in the yard of the dorm. When they came back outside to showcase the surprise gift; the car was covered with a ton of dirt and rocks “mistakenly” dumped on the new car by an obviously untrained operator.

Hellyisms were a bit more subtle.

One day Helly calls to tell me that she was walking back to the office following lunch, and had slipped and fallen on the side-walk resulting in a slashing cut across her knee. I rushed to the office and immediately concluded that she needed to go to the emergency room.Once there, I asked her if she would remove the bloody towel so I could see the cut.
There it was, this nice long deep swirling cut across her knee that looked exactly like a smiley face. Helly will be glad to know that her isms are safely entrusted to the Lockridge family and continue.
Her nick names for folks were legendary and her eloquent use of the English language was entertaining. I won’t mention our customers nick names because I don’t want to offend any of you, but as an example of her talent she referred to her mammograms as a “boob smashing” appointment.

Another example of her wit is and I quote: “Never attribute to malice, that which can be easily explained as stewpidity. Not stoopid, but stewpid. The way she liked to pronounce it.

She was always attentive to the needs of others in deed and shout outs to others for their successes.Even during the darkest days of her own illness, she cried tears of joy when I shared with her the miraculous recovery of our friend Gail Putnal from a life threatening coma caused by a cerebral aneurism.

If she wasn’t a Christian, she fooled me, because she really acted like one.

Helly never had children. However, I sometimes think she considered me and many of my derelict buddies as her kids whom she took care of relentlessly planning our outings and handling all the details associated with them so I wouldn’t screw it up.

Over the years Helly demonstrated her commitment to me to the extent that I have told folks who asked me about it; that if I were to ask Helly to go lie down on the Downtown Connector, her only question would be, “northbound or southbound lane?”

She loved going to the Symphony with her Mom, Mikey and really enjoyed visiting the Atlanta Botanical Gardens with her husband Alan.
In fact, Alan is going to spread a dash of her ashes over their favorite spot at the Botanical Gardens.

Having gotten to know Alan during Helly’s illness, I learned he is a great guy, loves Helly, they had a wonderful marriage and Alan hates to throw away boxes, which drove her nuts.

Helly was a woman who was so organized that she arranged the condiments on her refrigerator door in alphabetical order from A-1 Sauce to Worcestershire Sauce. I personally witnessed that phenomenon. She couldn’t even say OCD, she would say CDO, because that is alphabetically correct.

Alan also told me that they made a bond when they got married to always be nice to people even if they didn’t deserve it. I can personally attest to that based on the village of friends that Helly made during her years of working at the Americas Mart. During her sickness and certainly after her passing, I never went to her office to get stuff or more recently remove stuff, that I wasn’t asked by numerous folks on her floor, managers, store owners, the postman and bank personnel in the adjoining building, “How is Helly?” They were all visibly devastated as we are about our loss.

To Helly’s parents and family you should be very proud.

To all of us friends she will be greatly missed.

I recently read the following that seemed so appropriate to end this celebration of Helly’s life: Be who God has made you to be and you will be free. Helly is free.

Thank you.

This is a picture I took a few years ago on one of the occasions when I worked from Helly's office. A few times a year I'd go into work with her, and we'd have lunch together and just spend the workday keeping each other company. Those are some of my fondest memories. 


  • Thank you for posting Sandy's eulogy. During our getting to know you phase, she talked a lot about her job and how much she liked Sandy. The one good thing about making friends online is that you can pack a lot of conversation into emails because there are never any quiet moments. I am so glad you guys came to Vegas so that I had the chance to experience Helly in person. The X concert and dinner/late night snacks afterwards are still so vivid in my mind.

    By Anonymous Nancy aka FlippyO, at 2:02 AM  

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