Helen Hamilton Ralston

Published 11:51 am Monday, May 2, 2022

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Helen Hamilton Ralston died April 28, 2022, following years of declining health. She was preceded in death by her husband of 58 years, James “Jim” Ralston.

Mrs. Ralston was born July 8, 1930, and grew up in Edgefield, S.C., the daughter of the late Clyde Henry Hamilton and Edwina Odom Hamilton. She attended Coker College and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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After graduation from UNC, she moved to Richmond, Va., to teach elementary school. On a fateful Easter Sunday when she was home for the holiday, a young forester new to the area was invited to the Hamilton home to meet Helen and some of her friends, and a lifetime romance began. Through the years, Jim would raise a toast every Easter to celebrate the day he met “the fair Helen.” They married, sailed competitively, raised a champion Cocker Spaniel, and soon had four children. Jim’s career took them to several towns across the South – Aiken, Georgetown, and Marion, S.C.; Wilmington, N.C.; and Bainbridge, Ga.; before they returned to Georgetown. Helen taught elementary school in Marion, Wilmington, and Bainbridge, and was devoted to all of her students, discreetly providing a coat for the student who didn’t have one, or taking students who lived on the coast to see the beach for the first time.

In her later years in Georgetown, she was an active member of Prince George, Winyah, Church. She served on the Vestry, as a lay reader and chair of the annual Plantation Tours, and as chair of the finance committee for the Diocese of S.C. Helen was actively involved in many areas of the community, as regent of the Georgetown chapter of the DAR, on the board for the York Place Home for Children, and in the Georgetown Historical Society.

Helen and Jim loved spending time on the water and traveled extensively together. She had a love of nature, particularly the ocean, and walked countless miles collecting sea shells, building an extensive collection that would be the envy of many collectors. Wherever life took her, she was happiest when surrounded by family and friends. Helen and her friends could always come up with an excuse to throw a party, and she loved cheering for her Tar Heels. Helen treasured dear friends from each of the places she and Jim lived, and she maintained friendships throughout her life with Tri-Delta sisters from Chapel Hill. She was also a loving caregiver to many dogs, cats, and assorted other pets and creatures her children brought home. In her later years, she and Tabby the cat were inseparable.

Surviving are four children, James Er Ralston and wife Cathy of Winston-Salem, N.C., Henry Hamilton Ralston and wife Sherri of Charlotte, N.C., Edwina Ralston Bieber and husband Jay of Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Allison Ralston Leggett and husband Leon of Mt. Pleasant, S.C; six grandchildren, Brad, Harris, and Frances Ralston, Holly Ralston Farnell, David and James Leggett; and two great granddaughters, Jane Connolly Ralston and Addison Catherine Farnell. She was predeceased by her brother, the Honorable Clyde Henry Hamilton of Columbia, S.C.

The family would like to thank the many caregivers who showed compassion and understanding over many years at The Lakes at Litchfield and Brightwater, especially Lisa Verkuilen, who showed exceptional devotion and kindness in Helen’s final years.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Prince George, Winyah, Church, PO Box 674, Georgetown, S.C. 29442 or the Georgetown Historical Society, 120 Broad St., Georgetown, S.C. 29440

Please sign a guestbook at: www.mayerfuneralhome.com

Funeral arrangements will be announced by the Georgetown Chapel of Mayer-Ethridge Funeral Home.