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  November 10, 2001

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Queen of Harts unforgettable

New York girl a timeless lady blessed with grace and class

By RICK BELL -- Calgary Sun

Somehow it is most appropriate. Appropriate the card given out at Helen Hart's funeral features Helen in classic black and white, striking a pose reminiscent of the bygone stars of the silver screen, looking more than a little like the glamourous and gorgeous Rita Hayworth.

  I never knew Helen's real age.

  Any time I spoke with Helen she would laugh and tell me she was 38.

  I guess a lady never tells you how old she is.

  Only when I got the funeral card yesterday did I realize Helen was 77.

  No matter.

  Helen was timeless.

  Despite the advancing years, Helen always was the classy girl from Long Island, the daughter of an Olympic track legend, the bright young woman who would go with her sisters to the Big Apple for lunch and to shows.

  Helen was the great girl you'd see in those old moving pictures.

  She never lost the trademark accent.

  She never lost the brains or the wit or the spirit, the elegance or the style, no matter the circumstance.

  She had charm even among the charmless and grace, even with those who think grace is something you say before meals.

  She had dignity and judged no one and never, and I mean never, had a bad word to say about anybody.

  No matter the tragedy, and there was much, no matter the turmoil, and there was plenty, Helen always had compassion and unquestioned integrity.

  She always showed warmth, sincerity and true humility.

Stu and Helen on the rear verandah of Hart House, in November 2000. -- Bob Leonard, Stampede Wrestling
Maybe that's why Helen had many, many friends, legions of admirers and not one niggling naysayer.

  Yes, even in the most difficult of times, Helen seemed more interested in you than in sharing her own cares and burdens.

  You would talk and she would call you "Dahling" and say you were "such a sweetheart."


  Sometimes I had to talk to Helen at the worst of times.

  The death of her son Owen. The death of her grandson Matthew.

  The very public and regrettable feuding in her family.

  Helen would always be so open.

  I would be nosing around, as reporters do as part of this nasty job, and Helen would be so kind and so concerned about me.

  She would turn and ask: "How are YOU doing? You've always been so kind to us. You're such a nice boy."

  It simply floored me.

  When I had no place to go for Christmas dinner, I was welcome at Helen and Stu's place.

  When Stu won the Order of Canada, Helen sought none of the kudos, though she was often the most important member of the tag-team.

  She was so tickled I got her a Gore-Lieberman campaign sign (Helen said she once dated a boy just like Senator Joe Lieberman).

  You'd think I'd bought her something from Tiffany's.

  Yes, Helen had the kind of class no amount of money can buy and no amount of social climbing can give you.

  You either have it or you don't. Helen had it.

  Boy, did she have it.

  If you look up the word lady in my dictionary, you will see Helen Hart beside the entry.

  Helen moved long ago and far away from the bright lights of the big city and came out here to live with her beloved Stu for five decades and more, to raise a dozen children and to move among ring-a-ding-dong-dandy grapplers, monsters to midgets who worked out in a downstairs dungeon.

  Helen, the New York girl with brains and beauty.

  Stu, the rough-and-ready wrestler from Western Canada who saw in Helen "the prettiest thing who ever drew a breath."

  Helen talked about that decision.

  "Sometimes I compare the life I might have had in New York City, the Broadway plays, the glamourous cafes," she once told me.

  "But this has been a wonderful life. I really wouldn't have traded it for the world," she would tell me. I believed her.

  The last time I called Helen was Sept. 11. Her beloved New York City was under attack.

  The world was changing before our eyes. I figured I knew how she must've felt, but I needed to ask in black and white.

  Her daughter Diana answered the phone and told me Helen couldn't talk right then. She was devastated. She couldn't come to the phone, but she would call later.

  The call never came. In a couple weeks, Helen was in hospital. Five weeks after that, Helen is gone.

  But, in her timeless way, never to be forgotten.

More on Helen Hart's death

Our amazing Helen Hart photo gallery

More on the Hart Family

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